With the talent mismatch in the UK at its highest in the IT sector, now is an excellent time to seek a career as a software engineer.
Yet it should be borne in mind that part of the reason for the skills shortage is down to the fact that many candidates have not been able to adapt to the changes of technology, which have been invented and implemented rapidly within business.
According to an annual workforce study by CompTIA in 2013, 44 per cent of respondents said that they were a long way from where they wanted to be. One of the main reasons for this is down to the fact that skills need to be reassessed constantly due to the fact that applications advance very quickly from being invented to applied across the industry.
While the needs of the industry are likely to continue to change frequently, it is important that prospective software engineers are up to date with the kind of credentials that businesses seek. This includes knowledge of the right programming languages, experience in working with various operating systems and having the right qualifications to prove it.
Experience with Linux
While Windows is the most widely used operating system among consumers, Linux can be better for programming. It tends to be used for a wide variety of servers, which is why employers often need software engineers that have experience using Linux.
The operating system is particularly useful when working with a client that is in need of their own servers.
As an example of the things that software engineers need to be aware of when working with Linux is that it is case sensitive; whether or not characters are capped up or down makes a difference. So while programming on Windows meant that a code has still worked, regardless of whether a capital letter is misplaced, in Linux this oversight can cause the whole code to break.
Such considerations are an example of the kinds of things that those with experience of Linux will be aware of when they get an interview as a software engineer, making them much faster when working with the operating system.
Of course, Linux is not the only operating system that employers will want software engineers to be able to use. Skills using OS X and Windows are also highly sought after.
Having a number of programming languages under the belt is a vital part of being a software engineer. It is important, therefore, that candidates have the right knowledge of the kind of programming languages that an employer is looking for.
C Language tends to be very popular among employers; this includes the likes of C# and C++. For the best chance in an interview, applicants should be able to demonstrate a number of applications that they have developed using C Language.
Nevertheless, if an applicant can demonstrate that they have a working knowledge of many programming languages then this can work to their advantage even if they do not have C Language.
Knowing many programming languages demonstrates that the candidate has the ability to pick up a new one if need be and can adapt to the framework that the employer works to. It also shows that the applicant is skilled at problem solving, which is, of course, vital to their role.
While work experience is key to being able to acquire a career as a software engineering, so too is having formal accreditation to prove that the candidate can do the job confidently.
If the candidate has been assessed to ensure they understand the training that they have received then this can be preferable for some employers. This was proven in the CompTIA workforce survey in which 73 per cent of respondents said that they felt assessment following training was vital.
In particular, it is helpful for candidates to have certification that has been developed and approved by the industry. This is because it proves that their skills are in line with the needs of real world employers.
Of the respondents to the CompTIA workforce survey, 31 per cent said that part of their requirements for the role includes some kind of industry-related accreditation. Additionally, a further 44 per cent said that they strongly encourage candidates to have these certificates.
As well as having industry related qualifications, many employers also feel that their candidates should have a degree that is relevant to their career in some way. The reason for this is that it demonstrates a high level of acumen, showing that the candidate is able to learn quickly and under pressure.
Additionally, it demonstrates a keen interest in the subject matter and suggests that an applicant is enthusiastic about the industry.
Many degrees ensure that the candidate is properly equipped with the correct theory that they need for the role. When coupled with work experience in the industry, which will help to keep knowledge up to date, this is proof that the applicant has a well rounded knowledge that employers are in need of.