What you want to learn vs. what will get you a job

Battle of the rankings: Employers want Go but developers won’t Go

Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
© Shutterstock / Aekotography  

Hacker News Hiring Trends rankings and PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language index for April 2018 are out, offering different approaches, different data sources and different, yet interesting results.

Some are rising, some are falling and some remain static. This month’s Hacker News Hiring Trends and PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language index are out and the results are intriguing. Both rankings depict Python as a drastically-growing language, with its popularity hitting the top.

However, while PYPL PopularitY index shows Kotlin to have received a huge boost, in the Hacker News Hiring Trends ranking it is nowhere to be seen. Before we discuss the results any further, let’s have a look at the methodologies used for both rankings in order to better understand the different approaches.


For the Hacker News Hiring Trends ranking, data was collected by the Hacker News activity. Using the HN Search API and a dictionary of software terms, all of the comments (job postings) in the “whoishiring” submissions were processed to count the number of times each software term was mentioned. That being said, the ranking does not focus only on languages but rather on the top trending skills required by companies, including knowledge of specific frameworks, libraries etc.

SEE ALSO: Go has earned companies’ trust: More developers use it at work now, survey shows

On the other hand, the PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language Index is created by analyzing how often language tutorials are searched on Google. According to this index, the more a language tutorial is searched, the more popular the language is assumed to be while the raw data comes from Google Trends.

So, who is hiring?

According to the Hacker News Hiring Trends ranking, companies are increasingly interested in Python skills which dominate the list, followed by JavaScript and Golang. Most interestingly, Go –surprise surprise – appears to have managed to surpass Java in popularity, which seems rather static when it comes to hiring trends. JavaScript seems mostly static as well but, still, ranks higher than Java.

A highlight that I found particularly interesting in this ranking was the fact that Kotlin ranks among the less popular languages. Given the general hype around Kotlin lately and the huge boost of Google’s announcement on making Kotlin an officially supported language for developing apps, I would expect employers to be increasingly interested in developers with Kotlin skills; however, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

What do you fancy learning next?

PYPL PopularitY index focuses on another set of data to measure language popularity. According to this index, Java remains the royalty of languages even though there is a slight decrease in the overall trend to learn the language, comparing to last year’s results. Python jumps over JavaScript with a huge boost of 5.2% making it the fastest growing language in terms of popularity among developers.

Python’s increase in popularity has managed to almost touch the one of Java, since the difference between the two is a mere 0.57 percent!

Another fast-growing language is Kotlin. According to this year’s index, it jumped to the 16th place,  jumping six positions compared to last year when it didn’t make it into the top 20! Go, on the other hand, appears stagnant in the 17th place with a rather small increase in popularity of 0.3 percent.

What companies want vs. what developers are interested in learning

When comparing the two ranking systems, one thing becomes clear: Python is becoming a big deal. Both the trends on job postings, as well as tutorial Google searches place Python at the top of language rankings. However, there is a great discrepancy between the two rankings when it comes to the Go and Kotlin trends.

SEE ALSO: Kotlin is rising, Go is plateauing, and Scala may be at the start of a backslide

As pictured above, in the Hacker News Hiring Trends ranking Kotlin is nowhere to be seen, while the PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language index shows Kotlin as one of the fastest growing languages. Similarly, though conversely, the trend of Go seems to be rising according to the Hacker News Hiring Trends ranking while the PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language index pictures Golang rather static.

What we can take from this swift comparison is that there is a clear discrepancy between what employers require versus what developers want to learn when it comes to growing trends like Go and Kotlin. I would suggest that we don’t take either of the rankings for granted but rather use them as complementary to each other if we are to picture a more accurate image of the most popular languages out there.

Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou was the editor for Coming from an academic background in East Asian Studies, she decided that it was time to go back to her high-school hobby that was computer science and she dived into the development world. Other hobbies include esports and League of Legends, although she never managed to escape elo hell (yet), and she is a guest writer/analyst for competitive LoL at TGH.

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2 years ago

Golang is the fastest growing language on GitHub, what do you mean stagnant in popularity? ROTFL