How to Hire the Best Java Developers
Hiring managers and recruiters who have little to no technical background often meet difficulties when hiring Java developers. Often, they fail to ask the right questions or look for the right skills and experience, leading them to bring in Java developers who do not match their requirements. To be able to make a good hiring decision, hiring managers and recruiters should, at least, have a basic understanding of the programming language and the technologies related to it.
Java is an object-oriented programming language which follows a Write-Once-Run-Anywhere (WORA) approach. This means that Java bytecodes can run on any device with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This feature has made the lives of programmers significantly easier; with WORA languages such as Java, a programmer can develop code on a PC and they can expect it to run on Java-enabled devices (mobile phones, and even routers and mainframes equipped with Java) without having to adjust anything. The installation of JVM on chips, devices, or software packages, then, has become a standard practice in the industry.
Because of this, Java can be found anywhere. Aside from being the primary language for Android development, Java can also be found in web applications, governmental websites, and big data technologies.
Even during the pre-smartphone days, Java was dominating mobile. In fact, in the early 2000s, the first mobile games were made mostly in Java. Thanks to its long history, Java has remained at the top of the TIOBE index for more than a decade. The TIOBE index is among the most reputable rankings of programming languages in the world.
Aside from this, Java is also an ecosystem of tools covering almost everything a developer may need:
- Java Development Kit (JDK) along with a standard Notebook app which developers can use to write and run Java code.
- Java Runtime Environment (JRE) - A software distribution tool which contains the following: a stand-alone Java Virtual Machine (JVM), the Java standard library (Java Class Library) and a configuration tool.
- Integrated Development Environment (IDE) - a collection of tools that help Java developers run,edit, and compile code (e.g. IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse, and NetBeans)
Why should you hire a Java developer?
Here are 4 great benefits you gain when you hire Java developers to work on your Java-based projects:
Build great enterprise applications
Back in the 90s, organisations and businesses started looking for robust programming tools that were simpler and more efficient than C. It was then that Java started to become a great choice for building enterprise applications.
Java supports a multitude of libraries which help developers create any function or feature that the business may need. It also has impressive integration capabilities due to the fact that most hosting providers support Java. Lastly, maintaining an application or a website built with Java is relatively cheap to maintain because it is not dependent on one specific hardware infrastructure or platform.
Reduce security risks
Despite Java being a secure language, you will need a skilled Java developer to protect you and your business from vulnerabilities by utilising features that save you from common security flaws.
Java developers will be able to maximise security features such as the following:
- Compared to C, Java does not have pointers. These pointers are objects that store the memory address of another value that can cause unauthorised access to memory.
- Java has Security Manager—a security policy created for each application that lets you specify access rules you want to implement.
- Consequently, this allows Java developers to run Java applications in a sandbox, which is a set of rules preventing risks when the app is sent as part of a Web page.
Java follows the write-once-run-anywhere approach. With a skilled Java developer, you get to enjoy this capability and build applications that are able to run seamlessly on different platforms and devices.
Utilise the stable and massive community
One of the key reasons why Java has survived for so long is that it has a massive and active community, Oracle’s support, and an abundant amount of applications and languages that run on JVM. Moreover, there are always new versions of Java regularly released with fresh and interesting features.
According to StackOverflow 2018 survey, 45% of the respondents use Java. It is among the most popular languages, if not the most; this is further proven by the fact that Java is also among the first languages beginning developers encounter. On online learning platforms such as Udemy, there are more than a thousand Java-related courses, while there are 300+ on Coursera.
What kind of projects can a Java developer work on?
Java is used by many organisations in a wide range of use cases. From e-commerce websites and financial applications to games and desktop applications, Java can be used in a variety of domains. Let’s go by them one by one:
Although Kotlin has grown tremendously over the years, Java remains to be an essential language for Android development. Although Android uses Android SDK and not JDK, the code is still written in Java.
Java Web applications
Aside from being prevalent in mobile app development, Java is also widely used in e-commerce and web application development. In fact, a lot of RESTful services are being created using Spring MVC (a Java framework used to build web applications), Struts 2 (an open-source web application framework written in Java used in developing Java EE web applications), and other similar frameworks. Moreover, many departments such as those in governments, healthcare, insurance, education, and defense have their web applications built in Java.
Java is also widely used and highly-demanded programming language in the financial industry. It is used on both on the back-end and front-end to build reliable, fast, and simple websites. In fact, global investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Barclays, Standard Chartered, and other backs utilise Java for their office electronic trading systems, settlement and confirmation systems, data processing projects, and more.
In relation to the financial services industry, third-party trading applications are also commonly written using Java. Murex, a popular bank management program for front and bank connectivity is written in Java.
Point of sale systems.
Many businesses prefer and use Java to create PoS systems, mostly because of its platform-independency and the wide talent pool—which means that these businesses can easily find all the manpower needed to develop the system and software.
SaralPOS, a point of sale software which is reported to receive positive user reviews in terms of stability and usability, has been developed using Java.
Big data technologies
Many big data technologies such as Hadoop, Apache’s Java-based HBase, and ElasticSearch use Java in one way or another. Moreover, Scala, Kafka, and Spark use JVM as well.
With Java, developers are able to access countless tried-and-tested libraries, debuggers, and monitoring tools.
What technical skills should you look for when hiring Java developers?
Strong proficiency in Object-Oriented Programming
Java is an object-oriented programming language, so it only makes sense for great Java developers to have a solid knowledge and understanding of the concepts of object-oriented programming (OOP). Developers who are skilled in this area are able to implement object-oriented design patterns, and are learned in OOP basics such as abstraction, inheritance, composition, class, object, interface, encapsulation, and more.
Java developers must have both the skills and the broad experience to be able to write and structure their code in an orderly and object-oriented manner.
A sound understanding of garbage collection
Java comes with garbage collection. This feature means that it automatically frees up the occupied memory of unused objects, or those that are no longer referenced by a reachable Java object. In languages without garbage collection, such as C and C++, developers have to implement manual memory management in their code.
Sometimes, developers prefer manual memory management over garbage collection mainly because of the control it gives to programmers. Also, a poorly-implemented garbage collection can be harmful to the code. Fortunately, Java offers many options for tuning the garbage collector to improve its efficiency.
Java developers who have a sound understanding of Java’s garbage collection and how to optimise it will be a great asset to your development team.
More noteworthy hard skills
Here are some more important skills to take note of, as enumerated by Gaurav Sharma, Sharabh Technologies Business Development Manager (IT):
Database skills such as:
- SQL Queries (e.g. Inner and Outer Joins, Group By, Having, With, etc.)
- Stored procedure (a set of SQL statements that can be saved so it can be reused and shared by multiple programs)
When hiring Java developers who will work on networking or distributed applications, they should have:
- Knowledge of protocols such as IP (Internet Protocol, a connectionless protocol), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol, often called “The protocol of the Internet”), FTP(File Transfer Protocol), and TCP and UDP (Transmission Control Protocol and User Datagram Protocol, which are both used to transmit network data to and from server and client applications).
- Skills in working on sockets (endpoints in communication between two computers or programs across a computer network), RMI or Remote Method Invocation (an API that allows programmers to create distributed applications in Java), and RCPor Rich Client Platform (a software development platform that helps software developers build new applications rapidly).
When hiring Java developers who will work on Java-based web apps, they should be skilled in:
- JSP (Java Server Page) and servlets
- Web Frameworks (e.g. Struts, Spring)
- Web service architecture strategies (SOAP - Simple Object Access Protocol or REST- REpresentational State Transfer)
- Markup languages (e.g. XML, JSON)
When hiring developers to work on Java UI, they should know:
- Applets (a small program written in Java which is also able to run in HTML)
- Frameworks such as Swing, AWT, JavaFX
Are there other skills to consider when hiring Java developers?
To be able to make the best hiring decision and find the right fit, you should look beyond a candidate’s technical skills and experience. It is always a smart move to take into consideration a Java developer’s traits and soft skills. After all, you have to make sure that the developer you will hire not only fits the role you need but also fits the culture you have. Here are other traits and characteristics you can look for:
Passion for coding
Most developers, if not all, who are passionate about coding often work on projects outside work. These projects may be something outside Java, and they can also be open-source or even personal projects. It doesn’t matter what it is; what matters is the experience and the learnings that come with it.
Java developers who follow their passion for coding and try out different projects are able to build a wider skill set and a broader experience compared to those who code only during work.
Great communication skills
Applicable to all tech talents regardless of the language, it’s advantageous to hire Java developers with great communication skills. Despite the long hours of coding in front of their computers, often with their headphones on, programming is still a discipline that is essentially social.
Communication is critical in building a great product. A lot of collaboration happens among teams throughout the development. That being said, a great Java developer is able to communicate with peers and colleagues effectively, and he/she is also able to clearly share ideas to teammates, whether they have a technical background or not.
Client Handling Skills
It is easy to say that you should hire Java developers who have great client handling skills, but how do you see examine this skill during the interviews? You can ask questions about how he handled working with managers and clients in previous works, how he handled client expectations and worked towards deadlines.
Client handling skills will come in handy, especially since your Java developer will have to deal with different kinds of clients, developers, and managers like you as you move forward. When an applicant is able to answer your questions with ease and confidence, then that can be an indicator that he/she possesses client handling skills to some extent.
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