What are tech candidates looking for?

Pay and flexible working top the list of things that experienced hires are after – and if you can’t offer...

Andy Bristow
Andy Bristow
6 min read Reading Time
12 June 2023 Date Created

Pay and flexible working top the list of things that experienced hires are after – and if you can’t offer both, then you’ll need to consider lowering your expectations in a competitive market.

The Big Two: pay and flexibility 

Job seekers in tech have spoken: the most important priorities for tech candidates are compensation (yes, pay), followed by flexible working arrangements. 

The ‘Big Two’ factors are also ranked the fastest-growing priorities year over year, according to LinkedIn’s recent research, The Future of Recruiting 2023.

So, the thorny issue of pay – the one thing you were never supposed to mention at an interview – is now the key thing people are looking to know upfront. That, followed by the expectation that they can be fully remote if they want to be.

Why are employers reluctant to talk about pay?

Very few employers like to get out there and say “we pay great salaries.” Of course, everyone thinks that they offer above the market average, but few lead with it. Why? 

Because generally, most businesses don’t want to hire people who they perceive are motivated solely by money, because, in their mind, they’re harder to keep happy. And that’s why traditionally, job ads follow the same predictable structure: company size, clients, tech stack, and a touch of benefits (progression plans and training). But pay? That’s usually left until the second interview, by which both sides may be wasting their time.

Changing priorities, challenging times

So why are pay and flexible working driving the market? Two reasons.
On the pay front – it’s pretty obvious. We’ve got a cost of living crisis. Rising inflation, stagnating real wages. Job seekers literally can’t afford to be coy about what they can expect from their wage packet.

Flexible working, on the other hand, is a hangover from the pandemic. Hires, especially experienced ones, have grown used to a new way of working and they’re unwilling to go back, certainly not in the way they were used to.

Why it matters to employers

Frankly, if you’re not offering the ‘big two’ as an employer, you’re not just slightly behind, you’re way behind – to the point where you might not even be shown CVs for experienced hires. And that’s an issue, when you’re trying to recruit and keep people. It’s an issue for all sectors, of course, but it’s particularly prevalent in tech because the demand for skills is so high. 

In tech, hires can afford to be picky

While some companies are forcing people back to the office, in tech, employees can afford to be picky. In a sector where people are being approached once, twice a week for their skills: there’s always someone, somewhere who can offer better money and better flexibility. If you’ve got a loyal tech employee, then you’ve done something right; they’re working with you because they want to be there. 

Can’t offer more? There is an alternative.

We get that not all companies are in a position to offer high or better salaries, and not all companies are able, or willing, to offer flexible working. Assuming you don’t want to go offshore, there’s one way around that. 

Hire people who are less experienced and/or more junior than you would’ve considered. 

This can work, and here’s why: junior candidates are more likely to want to come into the office. They’re less likely to have family duties, which are a real benefit to home workers. Going into the office four days a week doesn’t require major adjustments in their personal lives to accommodate. Of course, juniors will still look to their peers and see flexible working happening there and would likely expect at least one day from home, so you’ll need to factor this into your offer, too.  

Want great hires? Think pay & flexibility first

In a nutshell: if you want experienced candidates, then a good salary and significant flexibility in working hours are an absolute must. If you haven’t, then by definition, you’re automatically shopping in a junior market.