Developer market salary issues

Part 4 of our series on trends looks at the wide range in developer salary.

We have a unique vantage point here at untapt; we get to work with a spectrum of companies, ranging from early stage startups to global enterprises. Across the board, our clients face the perennial problem of attracting and retaining the right technologists.

Recently, we’ve noticed new trends that present challenges and opportunities for our clients. We thought we’d share some common themes.

If you’d like to discuss this or any other challenges you’re facing with the tech talent market, please do get in touch – we’d love to have a conversation.

Trend 4: Wide range in developer salary

Many of our clients have faced this challenge; the demand for software engineers has never been greater, but some skills are even more sought after than others. As a result, we’ve seen a wide variation in salaries for developers, and confusing inconsistencies in the market.

Some of the most in-demand skills include:

  • Functional programming languages like Haskell and Scala
  • Javascript frameworks like Angular and React
  • Big data frameworks like Hadoop
  • Skills related to data science and machine learning (we wrote a bit about this in our piece on Trend #2)

Top tech firms like Google and Facebook are encouraging intense competition for entry-level talent by offering starting salaries as high as $115,000, and that’s before factoring in equity and bonus. As a result, we see a particularly wide range in pay for junior developers.

This can make it hard to fit your hiring into your budget. If you end up bringing in new talent at a higher level, it can also create inconsistencies with your existing team.

Wide range in developer salary

We’ve come up with four suggestions to navigate this market:

  1. Where it makes sense, be open to matching salary with competing offers. Over time, you may also need to address any imbalances within your team by rewarding strong performance with a raise, ensuring fair, performance-based compensation across your team. If you need more information about what the market is paying (on average) for a specific role, drop us a note here at untapt and we can lend you a hand.
  2. Compensation is only one of many factors that a developer will consider when they make their career decisions. In fact, we asked the 30,000 developers on untapt what factors they’re likely to weigh most heavily when considering their next job – compensation came second after ‘the technology I will use’.
  3. Be flexible about the skillset you will consider for a role. A talented developer will often pick up new languages and frameworks quickly.
  4. Be willing to invest in your current team by providing opportunities for education and training resources.

For startups, equity can be an important component to consider in the compensation package. There’s a healthy skepticism about the value of equity in the developer community, and for good reason. Our advice is to have a frank conversation about the value of ownership in the company. Be clear about the risk and reward. We’ve found developers are receptive to this – a higher-risk environment is often what attracted them to startups in the first place.

For enterprises, we suggest you encourage career progression within your firm using an internal mobility program. Make sure your roles are well communicated across the organization, and that there’s a confidential process for employees to apply. The Hadoop developer you’re looking for might be closer than you think; we’ve heard of a case where a manager and engineer met for the first time to discuss a role, before realizing they worked on opposite ends of the same floor.

This is a tough and sometimes controversial topic, but we’d love to start a conversation. Please reach out with comments, or let us know if we can provide insight on a specific situation.

Ed is co-founder and CEO of untapt. A FinTech veteran and an Oxford alum, Ed was previously MD at JPMorgan and has held technology positions at IBM and various startups. Coder by day, Ed leads a double life as DJ after work. And if you happen to run into him, ask him how much he loves Seamless (hint: a lot).

Ed is co-founder and CEO of untapt. A FinTech veteran and an Oxford alum, Ed was previously MD at JPMorgan and has held technology positions at IBM and various startups. Coder by day, Ed leads a double life as DJ after work. And if you happen to run into him, ask him how much he loves Seamless (hint: a lot).