Java developers are in high demand, especially in larger corporations, but employers are having trouble finding them.

One reason for the lack of available talent is that Java is no longer the first language many programmers choose to learn, opting instead for “fresher” languages such as Python or C++.

Regardless of the positive hiring outlook, Java developers need to keep refining their skills to stay marketable. Here are a few tips to help ensure you can keep your edge as a Java developer:

Keep building technical skills

Attend conferences to learn the latest developments in Java and take advantage of learning opportunities, such as hands-on training or coursework. Review tutorials on key aspects, like minimizing code in loops to boost speed or reducing memory gaps. You can also glean indispensable knowledge from participating in developer communities, or starting your own with your Java developer friends and colleagues.

Use the Robert Half Salary Guide to determine starting Java Developer salaries in your area.

Grow your soft skills

As a Java developer, technical skills are a must. But it’s becoming increasingly important for all tech pros to possess soft skills as well. You can become a better Java developer by honing these interpersonal skills:

  • Communication: As organizations embrace and are more eager to fund technology initiatives, you need to be able to collaborate with colleagues from other departments. By improving your written and verbal communication abilities, you can be a driving force behind these initiatives by providing engaging and informative presentations to audiences who may not be fluent in Java.
  • Problem-solving: You’ll increase your value to an employer by coming up with solutions and workarounds for complex coding conundrums or enhancing your organization’s development practices.
  • Customer service: One sure way to impress management is showing that you make the needs of end users a priority. Even if your role isn’t customer-facing, it’s likely some of the projects you work on are. What about that Android app you’re creating? Its success certainly depends on customer satisfaction. Keep that in mind as you work, so you can achieve better results and troubleshoot the end product.

Learn a new language

Clearly, you know Java. But why stop there? Having a strong grasp of more than one programming language can enhance your problem-solving abilities and make you a more valuable Java developer. When you learn a new language, you gain the ability to view a problem from multiple perspectives, increasing your likelihood of finding the ideal solution.

Scala is one language that presents many advantages, including a reduction in verbosity and the utilization of functional programming elements. And because it interoperates with Java and runs on JVM, a Java developer shouldn’t have much trouble picking it up. However, there are many other programming languages that are in much higher demand.

Consider project work

Using the resources a reputable recruiting firm can provide is another way to gain new skills. Some leading firms offer opportunities for career development through online training and coursework, certification programs, webinars and even mentorships. Staffing agencies focused on placing tech professionals can also keep your resume brimming with examples of experience by connecting you with relevant consulting or project-based work.

With interim tech work, you’ll stretch your skill set and learn to work in different environments. This will keep underutilized components of your Java developer toolkit from rusting, while affording you invaluable experience and networking opportunities.

To learn how Java development skills can have a positive impact on the average starting compensation for many technology roles, check out our latest Salary Guide.