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What recession? No freeze for tech workers this winter

  • Publish Date: Posted over 1 year ago

With recession looming, many workers are worried that their salary and home-working prospects are looking bleak. But tech workers have little to worry about, according to a new survey by Hackajob.

Starting salaries for software engineers are 64% above the national average and showing no sign of slowing–despite rampant inflation. And while a few companies have recently announced hiring freezes, demand for software developers is still outstripping supply.

The survey also found earning potential and career prospects are still "astronomical", with candidates with sought-after programming skills commanding salaries up to £140,000–and those numbers are set to keep rising in 2023.

Java programmers won the highest proportion of jobs, making up 15.8% of tech hires in 2021-2022, followed by C# developers (15.3%), DevOps professionals (10.8%), JavaScript programmers (10.6%) and Quality Assurance technicians (8.9%). Fewer PHP, C++, Go and iOS (Swift) programmers were hired, not because of low demand but because of rampant skills shortages.

And tech recruitment is about to get even tougher in 2023: 46% of candidates said they’d turned down job offers in favour of another role in the past year, meaning employers are under increasing pressure to boost their employer branding and attract talent.

While salary remains candidates’ top deciding factor when choosing a job, developers also place great importance on flexible working, culture and location, and are increasingly prioritising work-life balance. Employers need to be offering remote and flexible options both to woo candidates and to expand their pool of talent beyond the local area.

This is particularly important for companies with smaller budgets, the study said. Only 3% of job offers made by startups were accepted in 2021-2022, while enterprise-level companies scored over 50% of placements, perhaps because of “the perceived stability of a larger corporation in a cost-of-living crisis”, said the report.

Companies might be able to offer lower salaries by wooing candidates with other desirable options like flexible working, development opportunities and interesting tools to work with, but the survey noted that if the salary "leaves a lot to be desired", perks are unlikely to cut it. 16% of candidates said they'd decline a job offer if it didn't meet their expectations.

Despite pay rises across the board, there’s still a significant gender pay gap, with women's salary expectations at £57,000 versus men’s £65,000. And while more women are getting hired for entry-level jobs, especially by startups, more senior roles are still a boys’ club: engineering manager, one of the top roles for men in Hackajob's report, didn't even appear for women.

Mark Chaffey, CEO of Hackajob, said: "The next 12 months will be vital in addressing the gender pay gap, with dedicated strategies needed to achieve this."