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With annual growth rates approaching 100 percent, cloud-based software development in areas like Human Resources (HR) is a job-seeker’s dream. To find out what it takes to get hired for the most rewarding developer positions, I spoke with industry experts who shared specific strategies that make candidates stand out. This is part one of a two-part series.

  • Know the business. In an uncertain environment with limited budgets, connecting the technology with quick business wins is a must-have. Demonstrate your ability to add a layer of industry and company-specific functionality that delivers fast, incremental business value. Walk into interviews with examples of how you have or might solve business problems using cloud computing.

“Cloud developers have to show they can put themselves in the shoes of the end-user by getting to the last mile,” says industry analyst Josh Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting. “Having that skill set says that you’re not only able to code, but you also understand what your coding will look like from an end-user perspective,” says Greenbaum. “The really hard part of software-as-a-service is not the software side but the service side.”

Greta Roberts, CEO of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Talent Analytics Corporation agrees, noting that, “There’s an immediate rush to get the technology skills which are important. But hiring managers are also looking for a higher level ability to connect the cloud with what the company is trying to accomplish. What’s the return-on-investment?”

Understanding the customer, whether internal or external, is fundamental. “Developers need a full awareness of everything—objectives, strategies, and processes that support customer responsibilities,” says Paul Belliveau, HR consultant.

  • Exhibit a strategic understanding of how cloud impacts the business. Developers of cloud-based software have to consider how the organization will run it. That’s because technology companies selling software in the cloud are on the hook to ensure high-performance immediately.

“In the on-premise world, the customer generally pays the operational cost for inefficient and poor quality code. In most cases the customer has to address poor performance themselves.  In the cloud model, the total cost of ownership has a direct impact on the bottom line of the IT vendor. To make sure their company is profitable and can scale, it’s up to developers to make sure that the code runs efficiently and is easy to support,” says Thomas Otter, Vice President of Product Management at SuccessFactors, an SAP company.

  • Gain an understanding of platforms and integration, as well as virtualization. Software developers need to be multi-lingual so they’re conversant in fast-changing technologies.

As an example, Greenbaum says that, “Amazon Web Services is a great platform that epitomizes what’s happening to software this century. Developers also have to know about virtualization—that’s essential for anyone developing next generation software-as-a-service offerings.”

Companies are also increasingly relying on developers with the right skills to navigate integration. “Cloud is an essential part of every organization’s infrastructure but companies haven’t figured it all out yet,” says Roberts. “For example, cloud removes line-of-business silos to integrate data. This means organizations need help dealing with the resultant loss of control over data and security issues. They need a data integration strategy so departments can take full advantage of the data in a secure way.”

Integration is also important in the context of the platform. “Organizations want one foundational platform for connected applications that are aligned with corporate objectives in the long run. Integration skills are crucial because interfaces don’t cut it anymore,” says Belliveau.

As cloud revolutionizes the entire technology stack from basic infrastructure requirements to applications, it’s not enough to know how to build cloud software. Developers have to build technology with a strategic purpose that’s based on the specific needs of the customer.

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