'Touchy feely' interviews await contract developers who don’t like the language

Techies going forward for development contracts might be wise to expect ‘touchy feely’ interviews, as clients try to sway contractors to work with languages they know they loathe.

Visual Basic 6 tops that list of the most loathed, ahead of Cobol and CoffeeScript, but it is the little-used MS language that poses clients the most “difficult challenge”, says Hays IT.

To overcome it, and to actually find contractors willing to work with such “dreaded” languages, the recruitment giant recommends to clients that they get to know developers from the off.


“Employers who understand the nuances of what attracts developers today -- from compensation to career trajectory -- are most likely to edge out their competitors,” the agency says.

Rates are the driver when contractors eye a new contract, Hays said based on a poll it ran, implying conversations about pay will stay the course if edging out rivals is the client’s goal.

Less awkward to broach is what a solid 30% of contractors said was their second biggest pull factor -- the contract offering them the chance to maintain a good work-life balance.

'Close attention'

And it is definitely a case of 'maintain,' as 60% of contractors rated their current work-life balance as healthy.

Specifically with developers however, “they pay close attention to the technologies they’ll work with” and, even if those include “dreaded” ones like VB6, clients are still urged to put them in lights.

“Companies that showcase their tech stacks in their employer branding materials often stand out to potential candidates,” adds Hays, in new guidance aimed at end-users.

'New and exciting'

“Your employer brand can help you attract candidates to work with these…‘dreaded’ technologies…[if you] showcase examples of how your team has used them to create new and exciting products.”

Less convincing will be required, and fewer ‘bells and whistles’ in the showcase if it’s of Kotlin and Rust -- found by the poll to be contractors’ most-loved programming languages.

“Although these were once considered emerging technologies, both are used widely today by companies such as Amazon, MS and Atlassian,” Hays said.


The recruitment firm thinks it "important" for interviewers to know which languages candidates like the most.

But also, it implied, to have handouts or demos at the ready to cushion the blow if those preferences fail to appear in the brief or job spec.

“In addition to sharing the list of programming language in your tech stack,” the firm advised, “give candidates a sample of the work they’ll do by highlighting projects that your tech team is proud of.”

Editor's Note: You can search for Developer contracts here.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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