I've been looking at some job postings and noticed that a fair amount of them list IDEs under the 'required skills' section, even for senior positions. This is not localized to one company either, but rather it's something that comes up once in every few postings.

I am perplexed by this job requirement, as my mentors and some of the best coders I've seen in my life were VIM/Emacs ninjas. Similarly, when I work with people I don't much care what tools they use as long as they are productive on the team.

Can someone please explain the rationale behind hiring managers making IDEs an official job requirement?

  • 25
    Job requirements on listings are written by HR folks not hiring managers, those HR folks just ask what tools the engineers use and list using those tools as requirements. Oct 15, 2012 at 15:28
  • There can be a flip side to this. Some developers may prefer a specific IDE and thus use that in their searches and thus listing the IDE may make it easier to find if one uses aggregator sites to find jobs.
    – JB King
    Oct 15, 2012 at 18:04
  • @JimG I couldn't think of a good reason for this requirement, and always dismissed it as 'stupidity by HR' and red flags in terms of company culture. But IMHO a number of answers here provided good reasons that make sense and will be useful for people wondering the same thing as I was. In particular I found TMN's and aserwin's answers bringing up good points.
    – MrFox
    Oct 16, 2012 at 14:54
  • The longer the list of requirements, the less any given one matters. For .NET though, I'd be surprised if they didn't think you were weird for not using Visual Studio. For C/C++, I'd think they were being freaking weird for requiring a specific IDE or editor. I'm a JavaScript guy though, so I might be misinformed. Dec 23, 2012 at 14:35

6 Answers 6


If the organization has standardized on a singular IDE or development environment, then they might call that out in the job description/posting since it's a skill that would separate one candidate from another during the screening and interviewing process. However, just because it's a requirement doesn't mean that it's really a requirement and companies might hire someone who doesn't meet every single identified "requirement".

  • 4
    And it keeps away those who are going to declare an IDE holy war on day one.
    – JeffO
    Oct 15, 2012 at 20:35

In some companies the use of an IDE is standardized.

They expect all coders to use the same IDE and therefore are looking for candidates that are proficient in using it.

Some IDEs provide integrated debugging, code completions, templates, source control and more features, and as such a company may want to ensure an incoming developer known how to use the IDE effectively.

Having said that, most of the time knowing an IDE is not a hard requirement, just a nice to have, as far as the hiring managers and team are concerned. If these are listed as a "must have", I suspect the hand of people who do not code for a living (HR, recruiters etc...).

  • 1
    I'd say knowing how to use the Visual Studio IDE a pretty "hard requirement" for working in .NET. However, there probably isn't one for working with LAMP and/or Java on most teams. When I've contracted in these places using those technologies everyone used their favorite editing environment (Notepad++. EMACS, Eclipse, etc.)
    – jfrankcarr
    Oct 15, 2012 at 15:48
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    @jfrankcarr - I must disagree (unless you are specifically talking about Windows only .NET development). Ask the mono guys... MonoDevelop and SharpDevelop are capable IDEs for C#, for example.
    – Oded
    Oct 15, 2012 at 15:50
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    Seems to me that if an IDE is so hard to use you need experience to be productive off the bat, it's pretty bad IDE. (And, for the record, I've never found Visual Studio to be a bad IDE.)
    – user53141
    Oct 15, 2012 at 17:13
  • @Oded - Windows only. I haven't seen much interest in Mono in the corporate areas where I've worked/contracted. LAMP and Java are the popular alternatives to .NET.
    – jfrankcarr
    Oct 15, 2012 at 17:14
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    @StevenBurnap Eclipse might be a good example of one where experience would be a benefit. Does everything you need, but it's so counterintuitive to use that it takes people a LOOONG time to get up to speed on it. Oct 15, 2012 at 17:53

The company may have custom extensions or plug-ins specific to a particular IDE, or more often simply have their workflow defined in terms of IDE capabilities. For example, their standard build tool may directly consume an IDE's project file, or depend on some particular directory structure. They may also have coding standards that are enforced or checked using a specific IDE option or plug-in.


I wouldn't read too far into it.

Larger organizations tend to have separate HR and development departments. HR generally has little to no understanding of what the development teams actually need in a candidate, and likewise with the hiring manager understanding what HR needs to vet candidates.

So silly things like an IDE become part of the official requirements as it's a concrete measure HR can filter against.

If it comes up during the interview, and the hiring manager can't provide a particular reason why XYZ IDE must be used for development in their shop, then consider that a red flag.


Perhaps they use a very specific IDE (provided by a niche-market vendor for niche-market technologies - I think some SAP tools might count in this area) that takes some time to get good with and they don't have time to wait for a new hire to catch up. Perhaps they do a lot of tooling/scripting specific to an IDE so they need people with that skill.

I've never actually run into these situtions myself (where IDE was listed as a must-have; I've seen it often under the "nice-to-have" skills section on a job posting), and I've never heard of such a thing being a show-stopper in the hiring process. But that's just my experience...


I can give you one scenario... I work for a large financial corporation. We have a list of "approved" sofware that we are allowed to install on our machines. That includes development environments. It is a security issue; helps then keep track of possible problems with individual PCs and laptops.

When hiring, the managers have to take into account what IDEs will be available to new employees and of course, if they are nor experienced with what is available, they won't do much good.

  • Are they not willing to train new hires? I work in a similar situation at a financial company and we only use IBM RAD for Java development but have no problem hiring people developers as long as they have Java experience and some experience with an IDE - and even that might not matter as long as they can get what they need done - I know two developers here who drop to the command line to manage local servers while coding. I don't think anyone would care if they used Notepad to write Java as long as they can get their work done on time. Oct 15, 2012 at 15:37
  • 1
    Training is not an option here. This is pretty fast paced... I was brought on to fix a certain application; I was given a laptop and a phone number and the rest was up to me. Literally.
    – aserwin
    Oct 15, 2012 at 16:00
  • Wow! I guess in that case having specific IDE would be a hard requirement for hiring. Oct 15, 2012 at 16:02

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