The T-shaped technologist is comingPosted 4 months ago by Nick Caley

I used to love all you can eat buffets.

That feeling you’ve maximised your budget and cheated the system.

Maybe it’s the Yorkshire in me – my dad’s from Sheffield – I like to get my money’s worth.

One such self-service establishment, which I frequented during my early London days, was Wimbledon-based Jimmy Spices.

If you know, you know.

A strange place, somewhere where – from memory – you could peruse plates of fare from China, India, Italy, and Mexico. All in one place. At the same time. On the same plate.

Now, I’m not saying tech hiring these days is a metaphoric smorgasbord of global cuisine – stick with me – but the desire to get a more varied skill set is certainly prevalent.

From engineering to infrastructure, DevOps to data, candidates who wear multiple hats are more and more popular. And for 2024, I think that sticks.

Maybe that sounds obvious, but rewind 18 months and some companies were thinking quite the opposite.

“We have a DevOps, Cloud, and Platform team yes, but what we really need are some SREs”, they’d say.

I jest, but only a little.

I can think of three companies just this month who are letting technologists in infrastructure go, having over-hired ‘specialists’ in the space.

Then there’s the term ‘Full-Stack’.

Back in 2021, that was someone who wasn’t that good at any software development, front-end or back.

Jesting again.

But seriously; “we want Node engineers who care about distributed systems, SOLID principles, and design patterns. If they want to do UI development, they’re just not for us.”

These days a more rounded engineer is what the doctor is ordering.

There will always be a leaning – FE or BE, depending on the candidate – but the primary expectation is to tackle the team’s challenges as they arise, irrespective of tech.

And as teams get smaller this year – unfortunately I think that’s also something that’ll stick, certainly in Q1 – the ability for engineers to jump between languages and frameworks will be key.

So, as an engineer, what can you do about it?

Well – in short – anything you can to improve your skills.

Personal projects, reading, and for those with kids (no time) use any opportunity your employer provides to work with unfamiliar tech.

You’ll never be an expert, but that’s kind of the point.

Knowing enough to jump in, but not enough so you keep asking, is the combination you’re looking for.

The T-shaped technologist is coming – maybe it’s already here – but with the right prep and a bit of foresight, you can be one too.