One of the most coveted items on any CTO’s wish list is a ‘superstar’ software developer or engineer, as these guys are  crucial for the development of new products and evolution of internal systems.

Java, which turns 20 years old this year, has no difficulty staying trendy. In the technology job market it is usually the most requested skill, and for most development recruiters finding a 'superstar' Java developer is like finding the Holy Grail.

Why is Java so durable? Why is it the most-requested skill in the technology job market? And what makes a Java developer a ‘superstar’? I sat down with Yvonne, who specializes in java development recruitment, to get an understanding of the state of the java development job market.

So, Yvonne, why are permanent Java developers like gold dust?

Any permanent developers are like gold dust, but Java is a particularly attractive language for employers as it’s very robust and has therefore remained consistent despite changing trends and shifts in the programming world. Java is arguably the best programming language in its ability to scale, which makes it an attractive programming language for companies that are looking to expand internationally.

So if you want to build a quick application you might use ruby as its stylistic and relatively easy to learn, but where it comes to scalability and robustness Java remains the king!

Would you expect python or ruby to be off trend in several years then?

Java likely to be consistent for many years to come, as is .Net, which is basically Microsoft's equivalent to Java.

I'd expect ruby and python to be on trend for quite a long time too though. Lots of startups are looking for people with knowledge of these programming languages because it's easier to get something to market quickly using these languages. The downside is that python and ruby developers are in a very niche community and it's relatively difficult to find people with the required level of expertise with the salary expectations that would match what a startup could offer. 

What separates a good Java developer from a 'superstar' ?

A good Java developer has solid knowledge of the language but doesn’t have the framework experience (eg Javaspring or hibernate). but usually our clients would require their new hires to have experience and knowledge of a framework.

A brilliant Java developer has knowledge of Scala, knowledge of front-end side of things (eg. Javascript angular), multiple databases (oracle, MySQL) and node SQL as well. More importantly, more clients are look ing for people who can’t just sit and code but are able to communicate and take on the client-facing side of the work, mentor, influence and upskill junior developers. Many of our clients look for agile developers who are happy to pair programme or share a screen with a junior developer. 

So it sounds like a gold dust Java developer is basically someone who is really well rounded. Someone who is a strong communicator, understands the entire development ecosystem but has expertise in the specific area, and is able to take on team leadership and even client-facing responsibilities.

Yes exactly. It's really hard to find people with this broad and well-rounded skills set, but when you do it is like finding gold dust!

I imagine that it could be quite overwhelming for superstar developers to look looking for a new position if there are so many exciting opportunities out there! What would be the best way to approach your job search if you were in this situation?

I’m obviously biased, but I would advise them to align themselves with one or two recruiters who are trustworthy, experienced and a strong client list. Like us! (Laughs)

When they speak with any recruiters they should ask them about the market and treat them as a sounding board. What’s the climate like at the moment? Are there any adjustments I should make to my CV? What sort of salary level do you think I could get? Recruiters have access to broad and up-to-date market knowledge and because that’s what we do every day, and if you find a good one you should think of them as a long-term career advisor as well as someone who will help you get that next job.

Alright, and on the other side of the coin…say you were advising a client on how to attract higher calibre Java developers – how would you suggest they sell themselves?

I think many complies have realized that they can’t be as rigid to their job specs as they have been in the past. They need to focus more on the raw skills and potential of Java developers instead of just their work experience.

If they want to recruit superstars they need to create that superstar environment. In my opinion this means they need to be able to offer their development team new technologies to work with, an agnostic approach to technology, a willingness to look at new tools and a culture that enforces professional development and progression. I think the top priority for most Java developers is to be around skilled people who will accelerate their learning curve and push their horizons. Other benefits like working remotely, a cool office, good equipment and flexible working hours can help, too.

RELEVANT: How to Recruit and Retain a Successful Team of Developers

So the key thing a Java developer would look for is the ability to work with other talented people and expand their knowledge, and those other benefits are an added bonus?

Yes, I think the main things are the people in the team and the technologies they’d be working with. The culture of the company is really important too though. Many developers want to be able to walk in and one day influence how things are done, rather than sit at their desk all day and follow orders.

Of course, you will find individuals who want to come in, put their head down and do what is required - and there is nothing wrong with that! – but for most companies who are in start-up mode, or building new products or internal systems, they will probably want someone who wants to be inventive, work collaboratively and have those smoking hot skills.

As a recruiter in the Java development space, what are your biggest pain points?

There are quite a few! (Laughs) Our clients have extremely high standards and will want to hire someone in the top 5%, so a big challenge is finding Java developers who fall in that talent bracket who are also open to exploring their options. It helps that we work with fantastic clients and have attractive opportunities to present to Java developers, but because it’s a relatively small, tight-knit community it can take quite a lot of effort and energy to find candidates that are a good match for the role. What makes it even more of a challenge is that Java developers always have a lot of options so whenever you’re able get them a job offer, they will inevitably have several others on the table.

It's lucky that you enjoy a good challenge then! What else do you enjoy about recruiting Java developers? 

Java is a versatile and robust language that you can use to create a broad range of pretty cool stuff, and a whole host of the most successful digital organisations in London have thrived using Java. It's really rewarding to help someone find a role that they're really excited about and then hear about the projects they're working on or the products they're building. I get a real buzz when I hear about a product that's been launched that one of my candidates helped to build.

So… why do I like recruiting in the Java space? I inevitably get to work and network with some utterly brilliant people and businesses on a day to day basis.

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Want to get in touch with Yvonne to talk about your career and the latest opportunities in the Java development market? Connect with her on LinkedIn or email You can also see what java positions we are currently recruiting by clicking here

Interested in working for Burns Sheehan? Visit our "Work for us" page or email your CV and cover letter to