Monday, August 6, 2012

Jobs for Mobile Developers: “Go Enterprise Mobile, Young Developer!”

Enterprise Mobility Job

The advice in the phrase “Go West, Young Man!” is said to have helped launch the westward expansion of the United States. Today, the dream of getting rich quick by developing a mobile app has lured hordes of developers to build apps and offer them in app stores. But just as American pioneers found life difficult in the old West, nearly eighty-percent of the mobile apps sold in app stores today have sold fewer than 100 copies. Mobile developers who want to eat as well as program might want to consider getting a day job. So here is my advice: “Go Enterprise, Young Developer!” Despite the dreary lack of robust sales in app stores, there is a rapidly growing source of jobs for mobile developers: large enterprise IT departments need an army of mobile developers to build applications for their customers, partners and employees. Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of developers are needed in industry immediately to fill the demand for proprietary mobile apps for business.

What is needed to get a job as an enterprise mobile developer?

1.       Prepare a Functional Resume. When you are seeking a job in a relatively new field for which you have little actual job experience, then a functional resume may be your best way to open the door to an interview. Rather than list Job A, Job B, Job C in chronological order. Show your skillsets for mobile app development. Be sure to show: cross-platform capabilities, hybrid development capabilities, UI experience, integration capabilities, etc.

2.       Working applications. Once your resume opens the door, there is nothing more impressive than handing your mobile phone to the interviewer and saying, “here is one of the apps I developed that shows my skills in UI; here is an app I developed with integration to a backend system; here is an app that I developed in hybrid native and HTML5 mode” and so on. If you don’t have a working app, take a day and build one. Spend a few days an you will have a mobile development portfolio.

3.       Cross-platform capabilities. A job seeker needs to be able to demonstrate that they can create applications for more than one type of mobile client. With all of the rapid change in mobile platforms and devices, businesses are not willing to put all their eggs in one basket. Gaining experience in multiple platforms can be tough, however. Native development requires skills in Objective-C for iOS, Java for Android, etc. A developer with experience using a cross-platform mobile development tool may be in a better position than one who simply programs for native apps. In many cases, a young developer with cross-platform experience will actually be able to influence the selection of a mobile enterprise application platform.

4.       Hybrid experience. Developers who can leverage native clients with portions of the application in HTML5 in hybrid mode will get advanced to the head of the line. Employers love versatility in a developer. Demonstrated ability to work in hybrid mode helps your employer to prepare for whatever the future may bring in terms of technology direction.

5.       Understand the IT manager’s problem. The IT manager or development manager who hires you has a problem. The business side of their organization is demanding mobile apps. They see millions of apps on the app store and think “why can’t we build our own app like that!” The IT manager has to meet this demand, but at the same time create apps that are easily maintained, well integrated and can be readily migrated to new mobile clients in the future. If you can quickly grasp their intended solution to these problems or propose a solution in the form of an enterprise mobility platform, this will create confidence in the interviewer that you are a good fit for their organization.

Smartphone apps are by nature rather limited in scope. For this reason, they do not lend themselves well to international outsourcing of development. While tablet apps have a more expanded scope, they are often closely related to the enterprise architecture used for smartphone apps. This is good news for those who want to get a job in their hometown that is less likely to be outsourced in the future. If I were new on the job market today, I wouldn’t just go mobile, I’d go enterprise mobile. A good cross-platform, hybrid mobile app developer can build their own job. To build your own application, consider the Magic xpa Application Platform. You can download it here.  It will look good in your resume.

Glenn Johnson is a Senior Vice President at Magic Software Enterprises, Inc. Active in the software industry since 1984, he frequently speaks at industry conferences and writes for numerous publications.