Average tech salaries dipped this year, down 1.1% in the U.S. compared to 2020, data from Hired shows.
But salaries only tell part of the story about the technology job market, said Amy Pisano, Hired's Chief Revenue Officer. For starters, salaries are down largely because there's so much need for talent in the United States that tech firms are hiring more junior candidates. Tech salaries are up 6.2% globally, and American tech workers with more experience are seeing salaries decrease less, if at all.
Plus, companies are making up for it through better benefits – whether it's paid time off, flexible schedules, additional options, or larger stipends for a remote office.
"Between the Great Resignation and the shift to remote hiring, it's a candidate-driven market," Pisano said. "We see no signs of it slowing down."
Many jobs, high demand, and piqued curiosity
CompTIA's latest Tech Jobs Report noted that job listings for U.S.-based technology roles hit a two-year high in October 2021. The roughly 360,000 job listings are about 76,000 more than September and represent the highest monthly total since September 2019.
All told, the industry added about 140,000 jobs in 2021, and the tech sector's current unemployment of 2.1% is less than half the national average.
High demand has led to a decrease in the time it takes to fill roles. Hired reported that the time to close open roles is down to 30 days, which previously peaked at more than 50 days in each of the last two years.
In this environment, Pisano said, "if you don't move quickly, you lose candidates." Firms may let too much time lapse in between interviews, she said, or they may take too long to answer questions or discuss next steps.
The abundance of technology job listings has people looking. Hired's report, which analyzed interview requests and job offers made on its hiring marketplace from January 2019 through June 2021, found that 62% of tech workers plan to look for a new job in the next six months.
Part of this motivation is the effect of the pandemic, with many people taking stock of their life situation, Pisano said. But part of it is also the status of the job market.
"If you know you can get something better, and it pays more, and you can demand where you want to work, that balance of power makes you think, 'I don't want to let this pass me by. The market is too hot for me to not see what I can get out there,'" Pisano said.
Letting employees work remotely – whatever that means
Being able to dictate where to work is now the status quo for tech workers. More than half of workers want a remote-first model, and another third want to stay fully remote, according to Hired.
At the same time, 90% of employers are moving to a remote-first or hybrid model, in large part to expand their talent pool, Pisano said.
Companies considering different compensation structures for remote workers may want to think twice. Nearly 70% told Hired that they strongly agree that employees should have the same salary regardless of where they work, and 58% said they wouldn't accept a lower salary in exchange for working remotely.
Data from the latest Stack Overflow developer survey pointed to a rise in the number of independent contractors, freelancers or self-employed coders. This is not surprising, as freelance work and remote work do tend to go hand in hand, said Khalid El Khatib, Stack Overflow's senior vice president of marketing and communication.
However, those roles tend to be filled by junior developers, he said. More senior roles tend to be full-time, on-site positions – and those job candidates may not have the same flexibility.
"You have to think in terms of what the company needs," El Khatib said. "If you need a site reliability engineer, a data scientist, or someone to lead a cloud migration, you're not going to bring on freelance workers. The freelance trend won't be disruptive relative to the need for tech talent in house."
Supporting an increasingly remote workforce is not without its challenges and costs, Pisano said. Companies need to spend more in collaboration software licenses and provide stipends for remote office setups – which, in a job market favoring candidates, can be lucrative. Companies such as Basecamp and Shopify offer employees $1,000 stipends for remote office setup, with technology, lighting, and furniture all covered.
It also begs the bigger question: What is remote work? Companies are wrestling with policies that could require job candidates to be based in certain states, or at least in the same time zone, or to come to the office regularly if they live within a certain distance, Pisano said.
"We're seeing a big push to clarify what remote means," she said. "Companies need to be transparent about their philosophy. That's a big factor in a job candidates' decision."