Happy New Year! 2017 is on the horizon, and we want you to be in the best shape possible to land your next engineering contract role in the Silicon Valley. Last year we put out a blog that included 6 technologies to learn to secure a gig in 2016. We updated our list for 2017 to include the top skills that contract hiring managers will be asking for in the new year.

  • JavaScript Frameworks – AngularJS and ReactJS

On our last list, we highlighted Node.JS as one of the top skills to learn for 2016. While Node.JS has maintained its prominence as a runtime environment for JavaScript because it communicates well between the end-user and server. This year, we’ve seen frameworks such as AngularJS and ReactJS increase in popularity. AngularJS expands capabilities of your HTML pages for dynamic web-applications. The usability of AngularJS has made it even more popular – by adding the <script> to your HTML page, your code will update automatically when the model changes. AngularJS, made by Google, has plenty of resources on their website highlighting the pros of AngularJS, as well as tools to learn the framework.

Unlike AngularJS which includes the entire framework, ReactJS is just the view layer for HTML applications. In fact, you can even use the two together to develop even better applications! Many websites describe ReactJS as the “V” in “MVC Framework” – or “View” in the “Model-View-Controller”. This open-source view layer works with your existing code to make user-interfaces for applications. We’ve seen many managers list ReactJS as a must-have skill for roles like Full Stack Tools Developers and Backend Cloud Engineers.

  • 802.11AD – WiGig

The top skill that that managers are looking for in a Wireless Test Engineer is without a doubt 802.11AD. Otherwise known as WiGig 1.0, 802.11AD is a new Wireless local area network (WLAN) feature. WiGig aims to completely redefine what fast data transmission looks like. WiGig operates on the 60Hz frequency band, which should allow for less traffic and a faster transmission speed between Wifi enabled devices. For example, connecting your laptop with a projector or monitor wirelessly. They aim to transmit data at the rate of 7Gbps.

Companies like Intel, Amazon, and Qualcomm are all hiring for engineers with experience with 802.11AD. This includes contrcts for Test, Firmware, Hardware, or Software engineers with WLAN experience. Currently, there aren’t an overwhelming amount of resources online to learn the skills needed for your 802.11AD role. If you’ve worked in WLAN for a number of years, you should be able to pick up on the current specifications through hands-on experience at your next contract.

  • Universal Verification Method – UVM

UVM has remained on our list from last year, because it still remains the most-asked-for ASIC Verification skill. UVM, which stands for Universal Verification Method, creates a more standardized way for engineers to create IC verification testbench environments. UVM is based in SystemVerilog, and is easily translated from its predecessor, OVM. This is an absolute must know skill for ASIC Verification Engineers. If you’re someone who is interested in learning UVM, Mentor Graphics actually hosts a virtual Verification Academy.

  • IT Automation Tools – Chef, Puppet, Ansible, Jenkins & Gerrit

In any IT infrastructure, it’s important that all of your moving pieces work seamlessly together. From your operating system, to your servers and software, configuring your tools to all work together will help you to effectively manage each component. Here are some of the different tools that hiring managers like to see when choosing a software developer for an automation role. Some of the most popular automation tools include Chef, Puppet, Ansible, Jenkins and Gerrit. Chef, Jenkins, and Ansible are open source, while Puppet and Gerrit you can download for free.

Companies choose which management platform to use based on their specific needs. Chef is written in Ruby and is used to automate the process of managing your servers by turning your infrastructure into code. Puppet is often compared to Chef, as they have similar functions in terms of server management. As the two continue to release updates, many of their differences become less distinct. Ansible is another configuration management that is praised by admins, but is still very new. The main difference is that Ansible focuses on deploying your applications, while Chef and Puppet are more of management tools. Jenkins is a software automation tool known for its ease of use, and cuts out much of the busy work for developers so they can focus on quality. Gerrit is used to collaborate on a project between teams. With Gerrit, you’re able to review, accept and make changes to your colleagues’ code. Each of these are valuable tools to developers, sys admins, and IT teams. If you’re interested in learning the basics with any of these, you can start by checking out GitHub for projects and code.

  • Big Data tools – Hive, Cassandra, SQL

As Big Data continues to maintain and expand its prevalence in everyday life, companies continue to develop tools to manage and interact with data. If you’re going to make the move over to Big Data as a software engineer, here are a few skills you’ll want to learn before your next contract.

SQL – or Structured Query Language, is one of the oldest data management programming languages, dating back to the 1970’s. On a very top level, SQL is used to index and manage data for analyzation. If you’re a developer who wants to learn SQL, there are tons of online resources that will help you to learn. Again, with the increase of Big Data, this is something you’ll want to learn as a developer. Apache Hive actually uses SQL for “reading, writing, and managing large datasets residing in distributed storage.” Hive creates an SQL-like interface, and runs on top of Hadoop, so if you’re working as a Big Data Software Engineer role, you’ll want to know both. Cassandra, a NoSQL data management system, is often praised for its fast performance in large databases. Both Hive and Cassandra are open source, so you can find plenty of opportunities to learn and work with each of those for free.

In DevOps environments, we’re seeing contract hiring managers ask for a mix of the above Big Data tools and IT Automation Tools. For example, for a Senior DevOps Engineer role in Mountain View, you’ll see the manager list things like: “Expert ability to perform and automate system admin tasks using two of the following- Ansible, Chef, Puppet, Fabric” and “Install and configure NoSQL databases – PostgresQL, MySQL, MongoDB, Redis, Cassandra”. While you can learn these through online resources, the best way to master any of these technologies is through hands-on experience. That’s why many engineers enjoy consulting, as it gives them the opportunity to work with many different, new technologies.


Let’s discuss your contract career plans for 2017! Contact Kristen Shumate, Marketing Communications Specialist for ERG at to set up a time to chat!

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