talent November 12, 2019

Job Listing Keywords: What Developers Search for vs. What Companies

Every company seems to call their technical employees something different. Here’s a rundown of the various titles used and what they mean.
Avatar for Medi Madelen Gwosdz
Content Strategist

Supply and demand in the marketplace for tech talent have long since shifted in favour of the candidates. In recruiting circles, it’s referred to as a candidate-driven market. At the same time, the greatest risk for companies is the unmet demand for new talent. This talent gap makes it all the more important to reach those developers who are thinking about a new position. We looked at how the expectations of developers match those of companies by looking at the data from our job board. Specifically, we compared the most common searches by developers with the most common terms used by companies looking to hire. 

Which words appear in most job advertisements?

Our data team at Stack Overflow recently looked at which terms job ads on Stack Overflow have in common. 

If you look at the following word field, you can see which terms were most frequently used by companies in their job offer titles. The larger the dots, the more frequently they appeared. The stronger the connection between the terms, the more frequently they appeared in combination. Chances are most of the roles you are currently looking to fill, have some terms in common with these.

The most common terms in job ads on Stack Overflow

Top Joblistings Titles Stack Overflow

Customers have a free text field that they can use for the title of the position. Here you can see the terms used since 2017.  The links show the most common combinations in which they appear. 

If you first look at all synonyms for ‘developer’, while the exact terminology of developers or engineers is subject to debate, the analysis found some interesting regional differences: 

  • Full Stack Developer is popular across all regions but is more prevalent in North America
  • Front End Developer and Back End Developer are titles that are widely used particularly popular in Europe
  • DevOps Engineer appears frequently on Stack Overflow. In the United Kingdom, it’s the third most common job title that we see.
  • Companies in Germany, the UK, and Canada are more likely to use the term “developer” in job postings, while companies in the United States are more likely to use the term “engineer.” 

Beyond these most common and general words, we see words focusing on types of software work, such as securityDevOpsdata, and back end and front end or web development. Some companies mention specific technologies in job titles, including Java, .NET, Python, PHP, Ruby, and more. We also see roles for leadership positions like team leads and engineering managers. The latter being particularly crucial to run a successful team, but certainly hard to find. 

If you look at these terms as a reflection of the most difficult-to-fill or urgently sought-after developer profiles, then topics such as DevOpsSite Reliability Engineering, and Infrastructure are in demand.

In comparison, what keywords are developers looking for?

Keywords tech professionals use most often in searches on Stack Overflow’s job board.

Our data team analyzed over 180,000 search queries over the period 2017-2018. Here you can see that for the majority the keywords are similar. Half of all developers looking for jobs search for the same 30 keywords. 

The Top 30 Search Terms account for 50% of all searches

Top 50% of Job Searches

The 30 most frequent keywords in the search query on https://stackoverflow.com/jobs:

The 30 most frequent keywords in the search query on httpsstackoverflow.comjobs

There’s common ground for employers and employees in IT. So in many places, the top in-demand technologies and job titles seem to match up.

Of the 30 top search terms entered by developers, only nine are missing from the top terms in job ads: C#, C++, Angular, machine learning, Linux, Golang, scala, rails and remote. 

On the flipside: Among the most common terms in the job ads, those which are not in the top searched terms for developers are: product, full, stack, system, web, manager, administrator, principal, lead, team, technical, architect, infrastructure, application, senior, embedded, cloud, analyst, platform, automation, designer, security, mobile, test, ui, and it. 

There seems to a slight tendency for developers to look directly for the technology they are using, while job advertisements tend to indicate the seniority level or the subject of the programming activity.

We also wanted to know if there are any trends in the community or among employers.

Which terms are trending in job listings and searches?

In addition to the absolute number of search queries, we also took a look at which terms have increased most in the search queries of developers since 2017.

The fastest-growing terms developers are looking for on Stack Overflow

Job Searches over time on SO

Here are the fastest-growing search terms since January 1st, 2017.

The words that have seen the biggest increases in job ads on Stack Overflow

fastest growing words in job listings on SO

The words seeing the biggest increases in year-over-year growth in job title on Stack Overflow 

Popular with both employees and employers are requests for reactjunior, and python. In this context, it is worth taking a look at the Stack Overflow Developer Survey. No surprise, one of the most loved web frameworks is React.js. 

While Python, one of the fastest-growing languages today, is the most loved by over 70% of participants and number one when it comes to technologies that developers want to use. In other words, developers who do not currently use it want to learn it. And companies are looking for these talents, too. 

Most Loved, Dreaded, and Wanted Web Frameworks

Loved Frameworks global 2019

Most Loved, Dreaded, and Wanted Languages

Most Loved Languages global 2019

How can recruiters optimize their own ads?

This analysis is certainly helpful to put some trends in the tech industry into a broader context. But at the end of the day, only your team can find out which keywords belong in your job ads. The best advice is to write a job ad with a team of colleagues from HR and software development. Furthermore, it can be helpful to test different versions against each other via A/B testing. Even if the temptation is great to stand out from the crowd with a little crisp marketing language, we strongly advise against it. Developers have an extremely powerful Bulls*** detector

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