Felipe Gaúcho works as senior software engineer at Netcetera AG in Switzerland. He is a well known Brazilian JUG leader and open-source evangelist. Felipe works with Java since its early versions and has plans to keep that Java tradition as it is. When he is not coding, he prefers to listen reggae and travel around with his lovely wife Alena and his son Rodrigo. Felipe is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 29 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Good Java Developers Deserve Better Salaries

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My mailbox aggregates several Java User Groups and other specialized sources of information about the Java universe, with special guests like CEJUG and the Java EE community. Many of these Java sources are used by consultant companies to hire smart people, and since last year I am reading a desperate growing interest about skilled Java developers. More: few days ago I was having a coffee with some colleagues and a manager confessed he is worried where to hire all resources he needs to allocate in the signed contracts for 2010.

Listening such conversation and watching the raising offerings in the mailing lists I have only one conclusion: Java market is dry, skilled Java developers are becoming scarce. Reasons for that? No idea, but there are some obvious observations about our times:

  • Hype languages and technologies didn't conquered the market as we expected, languages like Scala, Ruby, Grails, etc. Android? You know, perhaps next year. These languages advertised revolutions during the last two or three year, sold out a lot of books and conference speeches but nowadays it is not easy to find good jobs (salaries) for such technologies. Certainly there are good jobs somewhere, but it is nothing compared to the Java is dead speech of three years ago. Simple fact is: Java is still ranking high in the IT market, while all that hype revolutions are still hype promises. And the young developers that followed the hype? Well, they will need to accept that Java job now, frustrated people mostly unable to delivery a quality service anyway.

  • People are becoming lazy and dumb, everyday a bit more. Watch idiocracy and you will get the point. If not convinced, watch MTV for half an hour and you get a live demo :). The iPhone users cannot handle more than one button in any GUI and unsafe-typed languages say that "anything that requires a type declaration is just too complicated to be useful". Nice speech, but what to do with developers convinced that math and domain models are obsolete technologies?

  • What about the salaries and Java carriers? Java platform produces a large chunk of all software running in the Global IT market, supporting business at a scale of billions of dollars every year. Nothing more natural than expect the guys behind this technology monster to have a good life - or at least a profitable life. Well, the reality is a boring overestimation of the management models, leaving to the developers just the extra hours, tendinitis and more learning curves.

How to hire good Java developers?

Just in case you are seriously looking for good Java developers, some hints:

  1. Raise the salary (no excuses).
  2. Offer learning as part of the job benefits (conferences, books, courses, etc).
  3. Allow your developers to take project decisions.
  4. Use modern Java technologies (Still using Java 1.4?)
  5. Give the developers some stability and carrier perspective, and don't try that in a bureaucratic way.
  6. Flexible working time and remote office should be available.
  7. Give the developers more than water and coffee.. how about fruits? cokes and other beverages? How much it costs for you to buy 1 coke per developer a day? If you think it is too much, please leave the market :)
  8. Don't try poor copies of Google and IBM ideas, these companies are just richer than yours. Be creative and honest with your developers.

Good luck :) Java market is dry, good developers are scarce.. it is time for smart managers to raise the salaries and catch the good ones, the rest can be shared by people reading Scrum and Kanban manuals.

From http://weblogs.java.net/blog/felipegaucho

Published at DZone with permission of Felipe Gaúcho, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Frank Silbermann replied on Wed, 2010/01/06 - 10:08am

Hire the Java developers who lost their jobs during the recession.  If necessary, hire the ones who lost their jobs during the dot-com crash or due to out-sourcing.  And for the sake of the future, stop firing Java developers, and you won't have this problem.

Eric Rich replied on Wed, 2010/01/06 - 11:59am

I'm surprised that profit sharing or bonuses were not mentioned. Our team got bonuses last week and raises this week. We get a paid vacation (with paid time off for a week) this year too (comes up every two years). I'm glad that the owner of the company knows how to hire and keep Java developers. :-) Eric Rich Flux - Java Job Scheduler. File Transfer. Workflow.

Wal Rus replied on Wed, 2010/01/06 - 1:14pm

it's funny to see complaints about dumbing down population and requests for coke, coffee and "other beverages" – what exactly do you mean here anyways :) Surely the link between what you eat and a psychological as well as chemical state of mind/brain exists and so the only 'valid' recommendation there was fruit. The rest will definitely dumb down: shorten attention span, reduce brain power.

Felipe Gaúcho replied on Wed, 2010/01/06 - 4:39pm

@wal_rus: you are right, but coke was just a reference for something the developers like ... no recommendations at all :)

* my wife looked the screen, did that sarcastic smile of victory and shooted: "you see, it is not only me.. " :) eheh

Cloves Almeida replied on Wed, 2010/01/06 - 7:41pm


the "hunt for developers" is only happening down here in Brazil and few other emerging markets. Up there, they're still recovering from recession.

Nevertheless, I agree finding average developers is difficult, really good ones are close to impossible. But I can say that's the case for every profession in high demand.

People in general tends to accomodate and in tech that means not being able to use the productivity tools and concepts developed in recent years. They're productivity goes down and the company tries to solve it by hiring consultants, architects and layers of managers. You get into the situation that salaries are low, yet the company spends a lot of money on IT.

Eventually managers learn that 1 really good professional are worth tens of the mediocre kind...

Setya Djajadinata replied on Wed, 2010/01/06 - 11:45pm


No matter how good you are or how hard you have worked on a project, if the project is not making money don't expect bonus or a raise, the management won't event think about it, since the success rate of a project does not depend on developers alone. This is one example where performance appraisal is nothing but formality.

Just my 2 cents.


Frank Silbermann replied on Thu, 2010/01/07 - 1:04pm

The hiring market for Java developers cannot be all that tight if employers can be picky enough to specify a dozen different APIs, tools and frameworks with which a candidate must also have significant experience.

Alex(JAlexoid) ... replied on Mon, 2010/01/11 - 2:20am

 8. Don't try poor copies of Google and IBM ideas, these companies are just richer than yours. Be creative and honest with your developers.

 Both of those companies are no paradises to work at. IBM only qualifies for 2 out of 7 points, though nothing beats IBM's stability. Google does get 5 out of 7.

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