Most requested programming skill last month? JavaScript.

So about this time of the month I’d usually announce the latest monthly programming language trends from Jobs Tractor. Oh, go on then, they’re here you can read the summary yourself there.

This month though I thought I’d share something different. I recently got Jobs Tractor scraping the links in the tweets and extracting some additional information from them. This includes any programming languages mentioned there, so I can get more reliable filtering for things like Ruby jobs in London etc. I don’t use that data for the monthly stats as currently I make no distinction between

Required skills


Nice to have skills

However, I decided to run those stats whilst was in there anyway this evening. And this is what happens.

Top 5 based on skills mentioned in tweet

  1. PHP                        (707 jobs)
  2. Java                        (674 jobs)
  3. Objective-C          (495 jobs)
  4. Java (Android)  (276 jobs)
  5. SQL                         (258 jobs)

Top 5 based on all skills mentioned in linked page

  1. JavaScript           (1196 jobs)
  2. PHP                        (1064 jobs)
  3. Java                       (948 jobs)
  4. SQL                        (890 jobs)
  5. Objective-C         (704 jobs)

Did you see that? Where did JavaScript come from. Two options as I see it. All those ‘front end’ dev jobs mentioned on twitter call out JavaScript in the actual ad. This seems reasonable but I don’t know if it’d account for a jump to #1 from nowhere in the top five. Alternatively, JavaScript like SQL is another nice-to-have skill mentioned in a large number  of job ads.

I’m still planning to do some more digging into the stats (want to know where all the  ninjas/rockstars are? ;)). Maybe I can shed some more light on this at that time. Meanwhile I was going to suggest if you don’t know JavaScript already you should learn, but it’s a big world and there’s plenty of jobs out there. You’ll be fine. Right?

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5 ways to find a job through social media

Phil Gauvin of MatchFwd has an article over on Cult Montreal recommending 5 ways to use social media to get a job.

It’s a lot about increasing your luck surface area by increasing your network, and there are some tips on how to do that. There’s also mention of Jobs Tractor as a tool for automating some of the process of looking for work on social networks (thanks Phil!).

Check it out

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off topic – create your own word search

Very much off topic. I’ve launched a new side project over at, I’m still working on JobsTractor (and the day job :)) but had an idea for something I could create quickly and could be an occasional alternative distraction from Jobs Tractor. If anyone knows teachers who regularly create their own word searches for class or is maybe making word searches for some after school club or something I’d love to know what they think I need to do to improve the site.

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Low tech ways to get hired #1

People have done it before and I’m sure they’ll do it again. But still, whenever you see someone prepared to put themselves out like this rather than just sending off a few emails then sitting back on the couch waiting for a job to arrive you have to admire it.

Anyone need a degree qualified mechanical engineer?

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Site update: keyword filtering added

I’ve just pushed out the visible part of the biggest change I’ve made to the site since I originally released last November. You can now filter the jobs by keyword (Java, Ruby, etc) and sign up to an email for just the skills and location you want. Whether that’s Ruby jobs in Sydney, Java jobs in London or iOS developer jobs in New York. This also carries through to the emails so should really cut down the noise at some locations where finding the 5 jobs you care about could be a bit of a pain.

I’m pretty pleased with this. It’s taken a fair old while to put together and although the backend for it has been running for a few weeks, because of some issues I’d not switched on the front end. The main problem with doing this originally was that there wasn’t enough data in enough tweets to reliably filter them. For example can I assume a ‘Frontend developer’ means JavaScript? How about a ‘web developer’ you can develop internets almost as many ways as you can skin a cat. This means scraping the pages linked in any tweets and extracting keywords from them. Which in turn means a bunch of other steps need to be handled as well. Whilst there are improvements to be made I think I’ve got a good first stab at it. I’m sure this would be about a weeks worth of work if you were on it full-time, but when it’s a side project a weeks worth of work can take a long while to accumulate.

For now that completes the work I really wanted to get done on the developers looking for work side of things. There are a number of improvements, specifically from the NLP course I took earlier this year for example. I’m going to take stock and work out what the next steps are. I’ve a few ideas for things I’d like to do with the data and I’d like to get the featured listings implemented soon. I’d also like to improve the filtering to allow people to choose their search terms rather than stick with my list of skills.

Any ideas on what should be my priority next, let me know.

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June developer job trends – numbers back to usual

The Jobs Tractor monthly language index tracks the most popular programming languages each month. You can see it here

The June results are now out and whilst the top 4 remains unchanged there were more changes further down the table. C# dropped back below Android, Ruby and JavaScript whilst C++ maintained it’s lead over ActionScript. Or more likely ActionScript failed to make up for lost ground vs other skills.

In  other news the numbers fell back a bit on Mays jump, I’m putting this down to the improved spam filtering I’ve implemented in the last month.


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What’s really wrong with the recruitment industry

Yesterday, Steve Buckley of put up a blog post titled All that is wrong with the recruitment industry. It’s an interesting read, from an insider in the IT recruitment industry. However, it doesn’t really hit what’s really is wrong with the recruitment industry for me.

Steve talks about how recruiters are targets driven. Rather than create deep relationships with clients and candidates they are encouraged to treat it as a numbers game contacting X candidates and employers a day. I think it’s sad some people aren’t happy in their jobs. I think it’s sad that opportunities for people to be nice to each other and build relationships are being missed. But as an employer I don’t care, that’s not what I think is wrong with the recruitment industry.

What’s really wrong with the recruitment industry?

The real problem with the recruitment industry is that it can’t solve the real problem with recruitment. The real problem with recruitment is that hiring people who are Smart and get things done is hard, really hard. And there’s not really anything you can do to change that.

What makes that worse is if you rely on someone who doesn’t really understand your requirements to do too much in your recruitment process. I’m sure even Joel Spolsky would admit a job spec saying “Smart and gets things done” wouldn’t really cut it. Also, you can’t often tell if someone is Smart and gets things done from their CV. This is why everyone uses proxies, they ask for X years experience, they ask for a degree or a good degree, or even a great degree from a great university. They look at where you’ve worked previously, what your current job title is, how much you get paid. But none of this really works, so you still need to talk to people and check them out face to face. One of the best hires I’ve made had no degree and no commercial experience in the primary language he’d be working in. He applied when he saw the job listed on the monthly hacker news “Who’s hiring” thread. I doubt a recruiter would have put him forward.

Doing it yourself

Ultimately you have to do a lot of the work yourself to get a really good result. More and more recruiters are offering to qualify candidates for me with coding tests. I suppose it’s additional revenue for them if I agree. I think they’d just be making a hard problem worse. They’d reject people I’d hire and they’d send people through who can regurgitate a Java reference manual but can’t code Fizzbuzz. Even if they got it right (which is unlikely) I’d still have to do the same amount of interviewing I do now with each candidate because the recruiter isn’t me and I don’t trust them to know what I want.

The solution

I don’t know. I don’t know that right now that the recruitment industry is under pressure to make it change, maybe it’s at a local maximum or maybe it’s genuinely found the optimum solution given the current constraints. Various people have tried to change things, from spamming devs on GitHub to charging candidates to apply for jobs. I’ve tried to lower the barrier to getting jobs published with Jobs Tractor. Ultimately most of what I see amounts to rearranging the chairs on the Titantic, or in the case of charging candidates, piling the chairs in the way of the life boats. Steve says he’s some ideas and I’ll be interested to see them, hopefully he really can improve things.

Personally I think every employer needs to think seriously about how important recruitment is to them and put as much of their own resources behind that as makes sense. That might mean using recruiters, it might mean having an in house recruitment team or it might mean more involvement from your technical team/managers in recruitment. And that’s what’s wrong with the recruitment industry, it’s hard and pretty much everyone would rather be doing something else.

PS, If you’re a developer looking for work, do pop over to and take a look at the jobs listed there.

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