What Do Employers Want?
Above all employers want empowered, motivated, people who constantly ask themselves, “How can I help my employer best today (not necessary my boss)?” and have the courage to act on the answer. This is well described in the important book Essentialism.
Some misguided mentors will tell you to study what employers are hiring and build your individual development plan around that. Nothing could be worse. Employers usually do not know what they really want.
Usually when an employer is at that critical point where they are hiring for something it is out of some level of desperation. They have a critical need that needs to be filled immediately. Filling that need best will land you the job, but keeping the job requires a much wider view.
So yes, study the job postings – particularly for a few companies that you dream of working for. Do your research. Look for what they need immediately and learn it. But also have the foresight to see where the industry is going and how to full the next need they cannot even predict themselves. That is what employers want.
Employers are Usually Way Behind
The larger the company the farther behind they usually are. This means that if you only work on what they want you to maintain your skills will seriously languish and when that big company – that doesn’t understand the economic dynamics at play in the Gig Economy – comes crashing down and lays you off you need not be afraid because you can walk into any remaining opportunity.
Consider that most of the “junior” development jobs are because everyone else in that job realizes how abysmal it is and how dead-end the technology is. They leave opening up critical needs. Posting such a job is almost always a very desperate cry for help from a dying company suffocated by technical debt that they cannot crawl out of. Rather than do what it takes to survive, they scramble from anyone dumb enough in the water to swim out and try and save them. They they claw you under suffocating and killing you and your prospects by never letting you up for the critical air you need to stay relevant.
Patience Will Keep You Alive
It seems hard with you face the financial urgencies of life – especially today. But the key to getting an amazing job – other than skills, abilities, knowledge, and confidence – is patience. On average it takes one full month for every $10k salary you seek.
Hourly Over Annual
Because you are a smart technologist, you do not measure your income by annual salary. You measure it by the hour. This is a critical difference between past economic models and the Gig Economy. It also allows you to remain keenly aware of the demands on your time and reminds you that at any moment your employment on a given gig may abruptly end.