“This Insane Tech Hiring Market”
The title of this article is a reference to the Podcast of the same name, in which Gergely Orosz argues that the demand for tech workers right now is unprecedented. They waste a little bit of time talking about Curt Corginia’s article, even though Curt Corginia is not even a real person, but for the most part their conversation is interesting. Gergely Orosz, also known as “The Pragmatic Engineer,” is a former hiring manager at Uber. He says:
Everyone was talking about a crazy market, but I actually did the research; I talked with hiring managers, recruiters, job seekers, I actually helped a lot of people negotiate their packages… And the crazy thing is that it has never been this crazy. When I say “never”, I’m not exaggerating. There was a dotcom boom where the hiring market was insane, and most of us were not even working. There were some people who were, and I talked with them, and that was a crazy market. This market is even more crazy for experienced engineers… And a lot of people think it’s because of remote work, and Covid, and people start to work remotely, and now we can hire in different areas… But it’s actually just one of the many elements.
— Orosz, emphasis mine
Orosz elaborates on this “perfect storm” which a graphic that he features on his own blog.
Orosz is Not the Only One Making this Argument
An article by The Boston Globe appeared in early November of this year called “In a red-hot job market, tech workers are naming their price.” The article begins:
Starting pay of $105,000 for software engineers right out of college. Company stock to the tune of 80 grand. Got a good night’s sleep? There’s a cash bonus for that, too. Oh, you want to work from home? Absolutely. Anything else?
Welcome to a job candidate’s market in the region’s technology industry. Long a high-flier compared to other industries, the tech sector has hiring practices that have gone into overdrive since the pandemic started…
The article goes on to introduce 28-year old Maiya Brown, a health care researcher in New York City who left healthcare, gained skills in web design, and went on to receive interest from Facebook and Google. After fielding back-to-back calls from recruiters, she went on to accept an offer from Wayfair, but not before considerable negotiation that went in her favor.
This sentiment is echoed by an article by the LATimes, which describes the market as hotter than it has been in decades for tech workers. In June, employers posted more than 365,000 job openings for IT workers, the highest monthly total since September 2019, according to IT trade group CompTIA. The positions highest in demand include software developers, IT support specialists, systems engineers, and architects. In September, there were 8,754 tech-related positions advertised in metro Boston, according to a report by CompTia, a 43 percent increase from the same time last year (from the same Boston Globe article).
Perhaps the best sign of all is that even people on r/cscareerquestions are asking why the market is so hot right now for software engineers.
First Caveat: Uncertainty Regarding COVID-19
If you Google “software engineer demand,” you may notice that many results are from at least a few months ago. The article by Boston Globe, for example, came out a little before the Omicron Variant began to make headlines, as did Orosz’s statements.
Second Caveat: Orosz Makes an Exception for Junior Engineers
Orosz writes that the market is not hot for everyone in tech, and that people with no professional experience are struggling to find positions. He also writes that compensation for entry-level engineers has not increased in this frenzy, confirmed both by anecdotal sources and by compensation data he took from Djinni.
This is a far cry from the tone of the Boston Globe article, which paints a very optimistic picture for new software engineers.
It is very easy to complain about the software engineer hiring process — if I wanted to, I could even start a Medium page like InterviewNoodle with articles exclusively complaining about the interviewing process, instead of actually helping people study for them. I am sure that would make the world a better place.
But when a Boston Globe article with “hot market” in its title begins with “$105,000 for software engineers right out of college” and “company stock to the tune of 80 grand,” I do think the focus is a little off. Interviewing is still a process. Anyone who writes an article like that is really underestimating the amount of times an interviewer asks a candidate to put fruit into baskets with an O(n) solution.
Or are they? Maybe this is the prime opportunity for software engineers. I certainly think that anything Pragmatic Engineer says has weight, considering his experience in and influence on the field.
There is no telling how much this trend will continue into 2022, but for the time being these statements have merit.