Saturday 28 June 2014

What are the essential skills of a software engineer ?

In our last article, we tackled the question of what local industries software engineers should be looking at, specifically the difference between them. This week, we take a look at the other side of the equation: what technologies and skillsets do employers favour in their projects?

An ever-present question in technological circles, “what is the best programming language” is best considered not solely by the merits of the code’s structure or ease of handling but also by considering the opportunities opened up by each language. Knowing what languages are currently on demand and being able to predict changes in the next few years means you will be better positioned to be competitive in the market.

By looking at 37 software engineer vacancies published by local employers since January 2014 on,,  the media and their corporate websites it is clear what the vast majority of employers are looking for.
To verify our conclusions, we also gathered information from our network by interviewing 7 software developers employed across igaming, B2B and software companies.

Here are the most requested programming languages by employers in Malta, listed according to the probability of an employer asking for it in job descriptions:

  • .NET (ASP.NET, C#, VB.NET)  -  Originally developed by microsoft for the .NET initiative, this group of object oriented programming languages tend to be requested together. C# is required by practically every employer who develops software components for deployment in distributed environments. ASP.NET is not strictly a programming language but a server side web application framework. With most software now being built as dynamic web apps, it is very much in demand. Mastering these is a good career move however keep in mind that it is a tough area to compete in: unless you have other unique skills you will not stand out.
  • Java  Confirming the continued popularity of object oriented programming, Java is also highly popular, which corresponds to our recent in Java vacancies.  A highly flexible language designed to run on a broad variety of platforms, it is mostly demanded by clients in the telecoms and enterprise solutions (client server applications) industries. If you are interested in mobile development Java is a safe bet, as it powers a lot of development for the and the Android platform. Due to its flexibility demand is increasing, and as of 2014 there are slightly less developers who are experienced in the platform, so honing this skill makes you extremely attractive hire in the eyes of employers.
  • SQL or structured query language is the next in line. Defined as a “special purpose language designed for managing data held in relational database management systems”, it is often required in combination with other skills and drives the majority of any data driven engineering. Combining SQL proficiency with UX knowledge is an interesting combination, and allows you to play a leading role as projects are moving towards simple interfaces which conceal high backend complexity.
  • C, C++  For software engineers who want maximum transferable skills, C is an easy choice. Used on practically all platforms, it is one of the most widely used programming languages locally and has been around for a while, partly due being a precursor to other languages such as C++, Objective C and Python. The trend, however, is that development on pure C will slowly become marginalized as employers seek these later languages. Being object oritened, C++ has gained in popularity and will soon become a mainstay. Objective-C on the other hand is not so popular in Malta as it is mostly used today as the primary language in developing applications for Apple OSx and iOS.
  • Javascript, HTML5, CSS3, jQuery:  Since they are so tightly related, we have listed these together. Until just a few years ago, any agency-style company that made websites for clients required at least knowledge of 3 of these front-end oriented skills. With cloud infrastructure becoming commonplace, the increasing amount of  popularity is now exploding however, particularly in the igaming industry. Javascript in particular is being requested for server side programming, game development and desktop applications. In relation to HTML and CSS, it is also common that employers ask for AJAX knowhow so as to send and retrieve data in the background.
  • PHP is an  open source server side scripting environment designed for web development, and another mainstay of igaming development. It remains high in demand, and Malta currently has a lack of software engineers who have mastered its complexity, which means that it commands a premium in salaries.
  • RDBMS (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle MySQL) Finally, knowledge and experience with databases is particularly useful and often requested. While differing in structure, knowing NoSQL as well will help cover certain weaknesses of RDBMS such as speed in certain areas, making the software engineer become more valuable to employers.

It is important to note that the typical software engineer vacancy in Malta requests 3 years of experience or ability with around 4-5 different language in combination with database knowledge.  Employers in Malta are increasingly looking for Full Stack developers rather than specialists. This is reflected in the increase in average yearly salary for an experienced full stack developer (35,000 euro average). The reason is that employers require flexibility. Software and web services are always on the rise, but the nuances between employers specific needs means that software engineers must be more flexible than ever and cannot risk locking themselves into one platform or methodology

As you can see, most software engineering jobs in Malta still revolve around the web and Microsoft Windows platforms, with Oracle/Linux following up and mobile (Android/ioS) opportunities lagging behind but increasing exponentially.  

There is a lot of focus on .net , c#, locally but PHP, Java etc might have higher growth . Compared to countries with similar economics such as Romania and Ukraine, Malta also has a low incidence of employers asking for Python, Ruby/Rails, Perl, Delphi, Scala and MongoDB, all of which are showing international growth. This is a reflection of the major pool of available talent. Since the University of Malta, private education institutions and MCAST tend to train people in the languages above, this is manifested in a bias for employers as well. However if you have the basics covered, we highly recommend setting yourself apart by mastering one of the high growth languages on the international scale which will inevitably come to Malta as well, as with such additional skills you can excel both during the initial interview and during employment.

NEXT: What non technical skills do local companies want in developers?

Friday 27 June 2014

What industry sectors in Malta have the highest potential for software engineers?

Software developers with the right mix of talent, experience and qualifications are in demand across a wide variety of Maltese industries. With the island starting to attract high-end game development studios and the continuing success of leading technology companies, such opportunities are only going to will the competition. How do you handle this?

It turns out there are two key questions that will equip you to triple your success as a software engineer in Malta.

  1. Which local companies are the key players, and what industries do they operate in?
  2. What technologies and skillsets do they favour in their projects?

Being able to answer both gives you both a wide perspective of the context in which you operate as a professional as well as a depth of knowledge that enables you tackle any employer’s challenge. This makes you invaluable for businesses, which affect your long term salary curve, productivity and most importantly happiness doing what you love.  

Yet the entire opportunity landscape for the local professional software engineer is not very well documented, which means you have to make career decisions with a limited view of the landscape.  The only way to truly be equipped with these answer is through consistent industry networking, deep understanding of what employers want and what the trends in the market are...which as recruiters, we do all the time. In today’s article we tackle the first question.

You need to know your options so you can choose the optimal path for your software career. From our experience, it’s incredible how much the industries you choose to work in change how future employers look at your  working experience. For instance, some industries such as aviation are highly specialised, which means you will acquire skills that are less transferable to other employers on average.

By looking across the vacancies published by our clients on in the past 12 months,  career opportunities advertised on LinkedIn and the major news media  by employers, and speaking with our network of developers, it is possible to extract the local industries which tend to employ the most software developers and engineers. These are:

  1. iGaming / Betting. The industry provides ample opportunity for growth. New companies set up shop in Malta regularly and the established players tend to have large teams and high employee satisfaction, which translates into upward mobility. Companies in this industry are always looking for high quality engineering talent to tackle the challenges of running a worldwide operation.
  2. Web, Software & Application Development. Not every company has a team of internal engineers for its requirements and this is where this industry comes in. These companies offer a range of services to other businesses relating to  IT consulting, system architecture, building websites and applications. Working within such a company offers you the opportunity to tackle an incredible variety of projects as no client is the same, however be aware that most do not employ more than 40 employees which might limit your upward mobility.
  3. Public Sector  -  The public sector includes multiple ministries, institutions, government agencies, companies and other entities so it should be considered an industry in and of itself. For instance, MITA, the government IT agencies, employs over 350 people.
  4. Enterprise Solutions  -  These companies tend to make over a million in revenue. Their entire business model relies on building complex software solutions for international and large local clients, often within highly specialised verticals such as business intelligence or finance. Their very nature means that hiring good software engineers is critical for them, making them willing to offer a higher than average package, as well as the opportunity to take a critical role within or even leading teams if you quickly adapt to their demanding environment.
  5. Telecommunications - Malta is host to three large telecommunications companies, each serving tens of thousands of consumers and business clients. Smaller competitors are also making a dent in the market, particularly those tackling international problems. Keeping telecoms operations running is complex and good problem solving skills combined with breadth of technological knowhow are definitely required in this industry.
  6. Finance - A pillar of the strong Maltese economy, this includes multiple banks of various sizes, financial service providers, and a technology ecosystem to service their needs, such as companies specialising in fraud analysis, which are becoming more common. These types of organisations handle massive amounts of sensitive customer data and monetary transactions, and software engineers who understand the industry can be really successful.
  7. Technology Startups / SME - The area with the highest variation. The reality of the Maltese context is that there is a big portion of software engineering career options that are “hidden” within a large number of companies that employ less than 10 people. These are often highly specialised or are in their first few years, meaning you will probably be in a small team or even on your own. However, for ambitious people who want the opportunity to grow with a company, this could prove an ideal scenario.
  8. High Potential Industries:  There are technology-driven sectors that show a lot of promise in the coming years, such as Aviation, Health, eCommerce, and Tourism. While overall employment of software engineers might be currently less than, initiatives such as the Fusion programme by the Malta Council of Science and Technology and the availability of EU funds mean that they will develop quickly into hotbeds for software innovation in the coming years.  If you are looking for something more exciting than average, keep an eye on this sphere.

These are only the top industries ranked in terms of general volume of software engineering opportunities, and salaries and conditions play a crucial role in making career decisions. Indeed,  perceptions of the employer play a huge role on how happy you will be in a new position, so make sure that if you have an employer in mind, you speak to other people who work there or have worked there in the past.

We think it is crucial for all software developers to understand the market and what the potential is, so they can hone their skills appropriately. Next week, we tackle the second crucial question in your journey to become competitive: understanding specifically what employers need from your software engineering skills!

If you have any questions about the next step you should take, our team help you figure out who to talk to and how to make sure what they need. After all, who wants to waste time applying to irrelevant jobs?

Thursday 19 June 2014

3 tips to get that summer job!

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School is almost coming to an end! For many of you in sixth forms, at university, or have just finished secondary school, you may be looking forward to earning some money over the holidays.

The following are some tips that will help you land the job that you really want this summer!

1. Experience.
Having worked in a club as a bar tender may help you in achieving a post at a beer festival or other related festivals. The winning resume is often that individual who manages to give an impression of a young person eager to grow in the field.

2. Covering Letter.
Two candidates are runners up for the same post. One submitted a cover letter and one didn't. It is undeniable that the candidate with the weaker experience may have benefited from a cover letter justifying his reasons why he should be selected for the post.

3. Money doesn't matter!
You should aim to prepare yourself, or position oneself, for the best possible life-long employment. This means also getting the best first job and second job in a chosen field. Although money does matter in helping a teen learn money management and responsibility, experience in a profession is worth ten times any base salary.

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Nikita Pisani at Muovo

Monday 16 June 2014

Are you an Organiser? These 6 Careers may be just for you!

A first-rate organizer is never in a hurry. He is never late. He always keeps up his sleeve a margin for the unexpected.
                                                                                                                                       ~ Arnold Bennett

Below are 6 careers that you are likely to enjoy if you are a full blown organiser:

1. Project manager
You will be organising projects. A project manager will usually be required to check all parts of a project, starting from the inception up to execution. If you are to succeed in this position, you need to be a good organiser.

2. Travel agent
You will be organising trips. For those individuals who do not like to plan a holiday by themselves, you will probably be organising how to get from point A to point B, including accommodations and itineraries.

3. Real estate agent
You will be organising details. You would need to keep track of all of your customers' contact information, listing details and contract deadlines.

4. Archivist
You will be organising documents and records. You will be creating and maintaining databases, organising and classifying archives and helping users find any reference materials.

5. Merchandiser
You will be organising stores. The way you store items will play an imperative role in the amount of sales that you will have.
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6. Event planner
You will be organising events, including weddings, parties, conferences, and so on. You need to make sure that everything is in the right place, keeping up with guest lists, accommodation, schedules, and all track of details.

What do you think? Muovo would like to hear from you!

Nikita Pisani at Muovo

Friday 13 June 2014

Writing that Perfect Thank You Letter!

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As we have stated in previous blog posts, a thank you letter following a  job interview is, in essence, a prerequisite. 

It is best to do this either on the same day of the interview, perhaps leaving a couple of hours before sending it off, or preferably, the following day.

Apart from showing your interviewer that you are keen on the job, it also serves him as a reminder of your interview and your potential as a candidate.

The following are some tips offered by Brazen Life as regards the writing of the letter:

1. Be careful of the layout!
Do remember that this is a formal letter and should therefore be written in a formal style. Start off the letter with Dear 'Surname', instead of writing the generic Dear Sir or Madam, as this may show the employer that you do not remember his or her name.

2. Try to bring a high point from your interview.
It would be apt to remind him or her of your skills and strengths in your thank you letter to remind him of some of your strong points, thereby making you an ideal candidate for the job.

3. Keep it brief!
Don't write a 2-paged letter that is longer than your original resume. Remember that the employer will likely still be conducting interviews and hence does not have too much time on his or her hands. 

4. End your letter with a call to action.
It would be better to write 'I look forward to hearing from you' rather than 'Thank you' or 'Thank you for your time'. 

5. Proofread your letter.
Make sure that there are no grammar or punctuation mistakes in your letter. Proofread it well. A careless letter rift with spelling mistakes will surely not impress your potential employer.

Start practising your letter writing now!

Adapted from Brazen Life

Nikita Pisani at Muovo

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Learn How You're Killing Your Career

This article is adapted from

You feel that you're a GREAT employee. You're always on time. You're polite to all the other staff members and colleagues. You don't sneak out early (okay - maybe occasionally). And most importantly, you MEET deadlines. 

Although these may be stellar qualities, it doesn't mean that you're in line for the next promotion. All your hard work might actually not pay off the way you expect them to.

Below are three ways in which you might be killing off your career.

1. You respond to e-mails right away.

Sounds like a good thing, right? Wrong. People who read e-mail at work change screens twice as often than those who don’t—that’s an average of 37 times an hour—which means that your attention’s bouncing back and forth like a beach ball, finds a recent University of California, Irvine, and US Army study. 

Not only does this make you less productive, but the habit keeps you in a steady “high alert” state, meaning your heart rate’s unnaturally elevated and your stress levels are higher. 

Solution: Take a vacation from your inbox. The same study found that employees who e-mailed less had increased productivity and had less stress. 

2. You work too much

Does this sound familiar? 


        …think about how you can free up more time to work

        …make hobbies and exercise less of a priority than work

        …spend more time working than you initially intend 

        …work in order to reduce feelings of guilt and anxiety

        …have been told by others to cut down on work 

        …become stressed if you can’t work

        …work so much that it has negatively influenced your health 

If you answered “often” or “always” to at least four of these seven question, then you could be a workaholic, according to researchers from Norway and the UK who developed this work addiction scale. Countless studies show that overextending yourself at work can increase your risk for health problems, like insomnia and heart disease.

Solution: Leave work at the office. If the COO of Facebook can leave the office at 5:30 every day to get home in time for dinner—it’s true!—then what’s stopping you? Avoid taking work home with you, and if you must get something done at home, be sure to work in a designated workspace for a set amount of time. And consider scheduling in your downtime just like you schedule your worktime.  

3. Problem: You’re jealous of other women at work. 

This is a tough one to admit, isn’t it? But a new Spanish study finds that women who feel like they have to compete with other women for their male coworkers’ attention are more jealous of women they see as more attractive or powerful than themselves. Plus, sexes were found to be jealous of peers who have strong social skills.
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Solution: Work those happy hours. It’s not easy coming out of your trusty shell, but it’s important to push yourself to make social connections anyway—for your career and your health.

Any comments? Muovo would like to hear from you!

Wednesday 4 June 2014

5 Keys to Making a Good Impression

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Blow your audience away in 100 milliseconds!

Below are 5 tips which you can follow if you want to make a great impression on your interviewers or new colleagues:

1. Look polished and groomed. 
Make sure you brush your hair, dress appropriately according to the environment of the place of interview. Appearance is very important - first impressions do actually count after all!

2. Try to stay healthy and fit.
Apparently, healthy and well-groomed people tend to earn more and get hired more often than their less attractive peers. That bias gets carried over to senior professionals. According to the GE executive, Deb Elam:

"Being physically fit gives people the confidence that you will take care of what you are asked to do, because you are taking care of yourself."

3. Dressing in simple, yet highly stylish clothes.
"Dress for your next job", Hewlett says.

To know how to do that, observe the people in your organization who dress well, then pattern yourself after them.

"It's not that everyone has to wear a grey suit," she says, "but this sense of polish and putting some thought into it does yield some benefits."

4. Stand tall.
The importance of height is seriously gendered. According to Hewlett's research, 6% of respondents said that being tall contributed to a woman's executive presence, while 16% said it mattered for a man's.

You can see it in the race for the Oval Office: The taller candidate has beaten the shorter candidates two-thirds of the time.

5. Look youthful.
The secret here is to Look youthful - not like a child. It gives signals that you have the "vitality to lead the charge and not succumb to setback", Hewlett writes. She sees the need evidenced in the cosmetic surgery market, as the number of Botox injections, facelifts, and "upper arm lift" operations continue to increase year over year.

But no matter how you're presenting yourself, you need to be aware of the audience that you're set about to impress.

Adapted from

Nikita Pisani at Muovo


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