Everywhere you look, it seems there’s an article proclaiming the sweet spot .NET developers are in — and the tough one hiring managers are in. It’s no secret that .NET developers are scarce. But is something else going on?
.NET developers are very much in-demand, and some CIOs are tearing their hair out while searching for talented candidates. One of the questions that’s often asked is, “Why is it so hard to find .NET developers?”
Besides the obvious demand-exceeds-supply answer, here are three theories on why this role is particularly hard to staff:
1. No one is sure who counts as a ‘.NET developer.’
Maybe the problem is simply in the nomenclature. .NET is a framework. Therefore, you can’t actually develop with it so much as you can develop for it. This means “.NET developers” are best defined more generally as a type of web programmer with a strong understanding of the .NET framework who is responsible for creating a variety of online software, applications, development and interfaces.
So to say you need a .NET developer is like telling your barber to give you a haircut. It’s a good start, but without more information, you may not get exactly what you’re looking for. Does your job vacancy really require a senior-level software pro with years of ASP.NET MVC 5 experience? Or will a combination of other skills do?
Graduates are especially hurt by this, as most educational institutions don’t put a lot of emphasis on .NET development. Because students are leaving schools without qualifications explicitly related to .NET, recruiters frequently overlook them.
But things are changing, which may, in part, relieve some of the supply issues around this role: Many graduates have gained the necessary web development experience from side projects, and employers are increasingly accepting this in lieu of formal education on the framework.
Shana Groen, division director for recruiting at Robert Half Sacramento, agrees. “Clients have migrated to being open as to what qualifies as experience for .NET,” she said. “They’re open to internships, paid or free, and to people doing their own private projects like building an application on their own or creating their family website.”
2. Companies are missing out on .NET developer candidates due to the hiring process.
Recruiters across the country agree on two things: Demand far outstrips supply for .NET developers, and employers need to move faster when someone becomes available.
“The job offer process should be speedy due to the number of offers any one .NET candidate is likely to receive at a given time,” said Diana Smith, a Robert Half branch manager in Washington, D.C. “The best candidates won’t wait more than one to two weeks before losing interest or accepting other offers.”
Employers need to identify the right person as quickly as possible, which may mean taking a multi-pronged approach:
- Fast-track interviews and interviewing over Skype, if necessary
- Work with recruiters to quickly assemble a pool of vetted candidate
- Opt for a temp-to-hire strategy
The latter involves bringing in a potential full-time employee first as a contractor to view how they fare within your team. There’s no commitment to offer a permanent contract, but employers can do so at any point. This approach allows employers to snap up highly skilled .NET developers without the inherent risks of making a rushed hire.
Of course, an essential part of streamlining the hiring process is ensuring clarity surrounding the job requirements. Which leads to the next issue…
3. Companies want a level of experience or skill set that is near impossible to find, but aren’t willing to train to get it.
Employers may be looking for a "purple squirrel." When writing job descriptions, some want additional technical abilities, such as SQL, on top of C# and .NET, while others want strong communication skills to support their Agile environment. Others want developers for Windows, Mac and Linux.
“If it wasn’t bad enough that the demand for this core Microsoft stack [.NET] has more than doubled,” said Nicole Sharp, Robert Half branch manager in Pittsburgh, “some organizations want to add requirements like IoT (Internet of Things), big data and Angular.”
Realistically, no one can know all of .NET. Rather than holding out for the dream job candidate who can do everything — this person likely doesn’t even exist — it’s better to hire promising people and then support their professional development to help them become the employee you seek.
“In the time you spend looking for the perfect candidate,” said Bo Hormberg, VP Recruiting Manager in Memphis, “you could hire someone with great potential and the basic technical skills you need, who is also a good fit with your organization, and in a relatively short period of time train them on the technical skills necessary to do that job.”