When the UK began shedding Covid restrictions in Summer 2021, I noticed something begin to happen in the tech sector.
Companies that'd closed their hiring books in 2020 were suddenly very keen to hire developers. Job ad numbers grew. So candidates began to pour in – Client Server's website started seeing record numbers of applications.
The predicted Covid hiring wave had arrived, and we've been riding it ever since.
The cut and thrust of tech hiring have meant companies offer much more to attract and retain talent. With UK tech companies enjoying a record amount of VC funding in 2021, start-ups and scale-ups could cut their competition off at the knees with the most apparent of attractors: big salaries.
Why pay a mid-level dev £50,000 when you could get them for £75,000? Reel in a couple of senior devs for a cool six figures instead of £70,000? It's all happening.
But here's something you'll be surprised to hear coming from a recruiter: it's gone too far, and it's not going to last.
At Client Server, we see technologists who were on £50,000 or £60,000 a little over a year ago are now regularly getting offers of well over £100k. Happy days if you're looking for a job, but there's no way it's sustainable.
For every rise, there's a fall. So I predict years of flat salaries and even pay cuts when technologists start looking for their next opportunity. And it's probably going to kick off sometime in the next 8-10 months.
But what about the present? Make hay while the sun shines, right? The following statement will sound odd, but many candidates are not worth the monster salaries they're suddenly getting.
It won't be the top 1% of talent that will suffer; it will be the "thick middle" banding enjoying the largest cash who'll face a big reality check.
20%, 30% even 40% pay rises are expected at the moment as companies jostle to attract the best people, but I fear that they are fighting over what's left in a bid to meet their hiring needs.
I don't want to sound like a doomsayer, but candidates must carefully think about their next move and not get caught up in the whirlwind frenzy that is recruiting right now. Changing job should be like any other investment. So here are some questions all candidates should ask themselves first:
- Can I afford to move?
- Will this job increase my knowledge?
- Will I gain helpful experience?
- Will my market value rise?
- Do I want to work for this company?
Notice how "Who will pay me the most?" doesn't factor at all? So short term gains could lead to long term pain if you're not careful.
So how do you prepare yourself? How do you not lose sight of what's vital in a cash-frenzy market?
- You need to adapt. Over the last two years, the big changes have meant the world of work has changed for good. WFH, the digitisation of our lives and tech leading the charge are here to stay. Over the next few years, technology professionals will need to upskill, reskill or cross-train into new tech.
- You need to keep learning. New technologies are always coming up, making the old ones obsolete. Emerging technologies are transforming the world of work. Companies will need to acquire new in-demand skills and adapt to future jobs. This should be your 'guiding star' when looking for a new job, NOT cash alone.
- Soft skills are going to be even more important. Attributes like problem-solving, complex decision making, and critical thinking are essential skills and experience for the top professional to have, enabling them to navigate a broader spectrum of scenarios that they will encounter in their careers and adapt to the future needs of their industry. Resilience, stress tolerance and loyalty will also become more crucial as companies attempt to fine-tune their candidate searches and the "great resignation" becomes a thing of the past.
But here's the good news: There's no need to panic. Your skillset isn't going to be redundant overnight. You need to be looking beyond the here and now and all the zeroes after the £ sign.