Our DNA is written in Objective-C

iOS Jobs Rundown

When I saw this creative job advert I figured, why not pull together the most interesting iOS jobs into an article. I keep telling you that more companies are hiring than there are iOS software engineers looking to be hired. Now here’s the proof.

I was contemplating several forms of establishing a platform that you could refer to. Should I put it on a dedicated Jobs page on Cocoapedia? Make a jobs page on this here blog? Write about it?

All of the above. So far 7 companies have sent me links to their job specifications. Since this is a large enough first sample to call that “many companies” here’s a quick rundown and commentary on the jobs.

BSA Banner

The first company that I was telling you about was scribd in San Francisco, California. They have several full-time recruiters on staff dedicated to find talent. Generally they have to rely on any and all hints that you possess some skills and they do that by scouring GitHub, StackOverflow and relevant forums. GitHub was also how they found me, via my NSAttributedString+HTML Open Source project. But I cannot move to the USA, I’m too old and too married for that. But for anybody else they offer relocation assistance.

Love your iPhone? Have little or no experience building iPhone applications, but want to learn? You may have just found a perfect opportunity.

They make it sound so easy. Who needs experience these days? Further down in the job description they still require some fundamentals. You should have worked at least one year as a software engineer and possess a Computer Science degree or equivalent experience…. whatever that means. I love that they specifically put “understanding of memory management” there. Expect to be questioned about retain/release/autorelease in your job interview.

Ah, and if you get asked, tell them I told you to tell them that I sent you. Ok?

While we are in San Francisco, let’s also pay a visit to ngmoco who is looking for several software engineers. Their jobs are not strictly iOS however.

We are broadening our focus from iPhone to all major smartphone operating systems with the release of our ngCore and Mobage products, which allow developers to write their applications once and deploy them seamlessly on iOS, Android and Flash.

This company is a known behemoth and I interpret the above statement in two ways: 1) they cannot find dedicated iOS developers, so they built a multi-platform system so that Android and Flash developers can play too. 2) They are not willing to bet on iOS alone.

Personally I would not consider working for a company that hedges it’s bets like that. But then again, ngmoco is well known and any CV can definitely profit from a couple of years working at such a major game development company. They too are requiring a B.S. degree in Computer Science or equivalent, which makes me think that this is short for Bull Shit, because I have yet to meet somebody with such a degree and being a prolific iOS developer at the same time. But hey, big companies have to have at least SOME form of hurdle, or else they’d be swamped by candidates.

Speaking of large companies, Google is hiring as well, but this time in London, UK. Of all statements that are designed to whet your appetite Google’s is the most optimized.

You are a software engineer who can write client-side code for iOS. You are also a well-rounded developer who knows how to create robust high-volume production applications, and can also develop prototypes quickly. The work is challenging, creative, fast paced and intellectually stimulating.

Google goes even further with raising the level of entry, again there’s the BSc (this time abbreviated correctly), but they state that an MSc or PhD (or equivalent experience) “would be an advantage”. As a reader of the Cocoanetics blog you are definitely qualified. Just tell them you are a Doctor of Cocoanetics. You’ll get hired off the spot.

On a more serious note, the requirements are full of EXes. EXtensive iOS EXperience. EXtensive EXperience programming in ObjC. EXperience with multi-threading and network programming. EXperience as architect or technical lead a strong plus. To get access you need EXes it seems.

Google, too, has dedicated recruiters, I can get you in contact with their guy in charge of Europe.

Again, we stay in Great Britain, the second company of interest there is Lightbox. They don’t have this job motivation paragraph but instead did interweave the fun and good humor into the requirements. I found it to be a great example of how to make a non-boring job offer:

You …

  • Think that Objective-C is a beautiful language.
  • Are eager to learn from your teammates.
  • Don’t have “this can’t be done” in your vocabulary.
  • Have a university degree in Computer Science or equivalent and 1+ years experience building high quality iOS apps, or alternatively:
    • You’re Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates and you’ve been writing code since you were a kid and don’t need no stinkin’ university degree.
    • You can point us to something badass that you’ve built recently (e.g. an app with 50k+ users and 5 star ratings).
    • Your StackOverflow reputation is greater than 10,000.
    • Your Github repositories are followed by more than 100 developers.

Here’s another good reason to have some open source code on GitHub, preferably something useful. Here the degree is kind of embedded, but at least this company is friendly enough to share their standards on “equivalent experience” with us. They lose a couple of points because these exact humorous points are also present on their Web, Android and generic Software Engineer job postings. Good job with the copy&paste guys!

Further east we leave we enter the European main land and the first job there is in Copenhagen with Shape in Denmark.

If you are passionate about beautifully crafted software and if you would like to work in a young aspiring team with a flat hierarchy, then Shape might be a perfect fit for you.

Do you see the trend as well? While the focus in USA and UK was on Objective-C being beautiful, now for the first time we hear about “beautifully crafted software”. Shape’s job page is also the first one I see with at least a bit of design. Ok, nothing too fancy, just a screen shot of Instruments and rotated by a few degrees to the left. Could this be a hint of socialism? You know, those countries in the northwest of Europe are famous for their rampant socialism…

Another thing that strikes you as odd is that this is the first offer that does not mention BSc or equivalent experience. Or maybe it does, in code: “…a theoretical background in computer science or software engineering”. One could argue that theoretic backgrounds are only available at university. Because in real life all computer science backgrounds are practical, not theoretical.

And there’s one thing that disturbs me here: “You will be programming in Objective-C, Java and maybe Ruby or something even cooler.” There is NOTHING cooler than Objective-C, you HEAR ME?

While we are in Europe, let’s stop over at NOUS, located in Vienna, Austria, incidentally my birthplace and wonderful location to work at. Their job page is in German, which is a bit off target as I am certain that language skills in English and Objective-C should be sufficient. But they specifically mention that German is required, probably because you will either have to communicate with external clients or some internal types that don’t want to switch to English just for you.

NOUS, too, omits the motivational paragraph and goes right into the tasks and requirements. They stress that you’ll be responsible for carrying out the software development in a self-reliant fashion. You’ll work with backend developers. You’ll support other departments when it comes to judging which of their fancy ideas can actually be programmed.

In short, this might be an interesting job, in a great city, but their job page needs a major rewrite first. PS: they are looking for interns as well.

Did you know that New Zealand is what’s left of a now submerged continent of Zealandia? They don’t even belong to one of the modern accredited continents, so developers from there answer the question which continent they are from with “Oceania”, but that’s a region, not a continent.

Last but not least we come to New Zealand and the company whose job ad has inspired me for this article: Polar Bear Farm. Apple tells us that 60% of app development is design. That’s why this company gets the trophy for the best designed most targeted and most fun job advert I have ever seen.

Doesn’t that make you want to eat them up? Hey, it even makes MY palms sweaty in excitement, and I don’t plan to move to New Zealand. This is the only catch I can see there: they are located in Christchurch which has recently been devastated by major earthquakes. Even yesterday their CEO tweeted about the earth trembling.

Besides of the fantastic design they seem to get two important things about iOS developers that the other companies did not get. 1) Academic training does not matter, but only real life experience counts. 2) Ideally you’d be based near the company’s HQ, but they are officially open to the idea of remote working as well. The latter is smart because there are few iOS developers to go around and of these even fewer might want to move to an out-of-place island like NZ, let alone an earthquake region.


I think this proves sufficiently that my article claiming that there are too few iOS developers holds true. Let’s summarize the main topics that companies mentioned as important for aspiring iOS software engineers. Those are the areas where you might want to bulk up your knowledge before going to an interview.

  • OO design
  • memory management
  • multi-threading
  • network programming
  • OpenGL
  • OpenCV and computer vision algorithms
  • Getting apps successfully through the Apple App Store approval process
  • Agile Software Development (SCRUM)
  • Testing
  • Documentation
  • Xcode 4
  • C/C++, Objective-C and COCOA
  • rapid prototyping

From now on I’ll keep listening for tweets that are announcing jobs and will report on the most interesting ones periodically. If you represent a company that’s hiring, please get in touch.

Categories: Jobs


  1. Heh, great post – good news for iOS devs if there really is a shortage, all we need now is for salaries to go up with demand (precious little indication of that happening in my neck of the UK, grrr)

  2. Salaries are definitely up in California. I regularly see postings for senior developers in the 100k-150k range. Used to be you needed to negotiate up to that range, they didn’t just come out and say it.

    Software development can be done remotely. There’s no reason any part of the UK should be out of reach for salary inflation.


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