At RedCat, we think it’s important to give both the candidates and clients we work with a genuine overview of the market. I know everyone says ‘oh we can tell you exactly what’s going on out there’, well in this case, the proof is in the pudding.
We put together some stats earlier this year (so, apologies, as some of these have changed – which I’ll give an overview on later) to give that balanced understanding to the Front-End community, whether you’re hiring or looking for a new job. Some of these are RedCat specific, and what we’ve experienced in the market over the last couple of years, but again, I’ll go into more detail there.
So you’re looking for a new job
If you’re looking for a new job in the front-end market, the first thing I’d suggest is to take a gander at the number of developers out there and compare that against the available jobs in London. There is pretty much a new job available for every two developers in London. I absolutely appreciate that as these stats have come from job boards that there’s no doubt there’ll be some duplicates and overlaps with those jobs, but even taking that into count, it’s a quite a clear indicator.
The Front-End market at the moment is as busy as anything, which actually lends itself to candidates quite nicely. My suggestion, with this knowledge in hand, is that you can be less worried about what’s out there because there’s so much choice. Do a real exercise about what you’re looking for and what you need in your next role. Sit down with someone who knows you like the back of their hand and work out your motivations.
What’s also worth paying close attention to is the pay rises happening at the moment. When I first started in recruitment, the average salary rise people would go for was typically £5,000, or 10% of your current salary. Now you’re looking at an average pay rise of 19%, with the highest pay increase (of a candidate I’ve placed) being 51% – although certainly worth noting that multiple candidates I’ve worked closely with have moved for me, the highest being 58%. There’s a potential the way things are going that you’ll have a number of companies throwing huge sums of money at you (which is great!), but on the other hand, if you won’t be fulfilled you need to see how much money means to you.
So you’re looking to hire
If you’re looking to hire 10 Front-End engineers with React experience at the moment, what do you do? Firstly, for me at least, you would need to come to the appreciation that the candidate controls the market. I can’t emphasise that enough – no amount of underlines, bolding, or caps lock will help me here. They have so much choice and opportunities for big ol’ pay-rises, that they can leave whenever, and you won’t know until they hand in their notice.
So looking at these figures, you’re looking at 5,665 React engineers in London (according to LinkedIn), and 441 open to new opportunities, which is just shy of 8% – however, I’m well aware these figures can change so have had a refresh. At the moment, we’re looking at 7,212 Front-End engineers, and only 590 looking, so still sitting at the 8% mark. Even with a massive influx of Front-End developers (we work in a booming industry, after all), and a number of people adding a valuable skill-set to their repertoire, there is no real visible difference between those on the look-out. So how do you plan on making those successful hires so easily?
When you start to consider the salary figures, you’re opening a real can of worms. Understanding average standards for the Front-End industry is a huge tool, because what company doesn’t want to be in line with the market? It’s great to talk about what you’ll learn in the new role, the opportunity for growth and responsibility, as well as things such as making a direct impact on millions of people. These are all great, genuinely, and please don’t take away from this that I don’t think these are important.
From a client-side, however, you would need to be acutely aware that to some people, these things don’t matter as much – or at least, they’ll want to be paid really fairly for their work, and see these as positive attributes for the job rather than a salary compromise. I think the best way to understand how the salary increases affect the market is by looking at the seniority/salary levels you’d be expecting candidates applying for your role to have. If you’re looking for a lead candidate at £85,000, you’ll realistically be looking at candidates that (at the most) are on £68,000; at most big companies or established start-ups, you’ll be looking at senior without, or with little, leadership experience.
If you’re wanting people who have leadership experience to come into these types of roles, you’ll be wanting to up that salary – not just to be ‘in line with the market’, but to make sure you’re actually capable of getting the candidates you need. If not, you’re literally hoping and begging that you (or the agency you’ve no doubt pulled on board to help with your impossible search) can find an underpaid gem. I am aware that this is a reductionist statement to an extent, but it is not a sustainable business plan to only hire underpaid gems if you are a tech-centric company.
Now, I totally appreciate the last couple of paragraphs have read pretty damning if you’re trying to hire great Front-End engineers. It’s not impossible, don’t get me wrong, but let’s not pretend it’s not hard. So how do we make life as easy as it can be? Well, it’s all about the process and the candidate experience. How can you be honestly trying to attract the best Front-End engineers in the business and give no, little, or exceptionally delayed feedback on their CV’s? It’s a really small world in tech, and having bad experiences can spread like wildfire. As well as that, make sure the process is inclusive as it can possibly be. A client I’ve worked with quite closely in 2018 allows all candidates in the process to submit a different technical test if they don’t have the time to commit to too many different tests – whether they’ve got a family, look after someone in their spare time, or simply don’t want to spend hours upon hours doing technical tests. It’s an extremely inclusive process that candidates have really enjoyed and allows the positive word to be spread.
How do we conclude from here?
Well, it’s hard to 100% commit to a conclusion here, because we work in a dynamic, ever-changing industry, but we have to embrace the changes, stay aware and understand what’s going out there to work alongside the ebbs and flows. I think from a candidate perspective, it’s clear to see that there’s a huge amount of opportunity available and to understand salary rises are available. From a client perspective, please remember the keywords: the candidate controls the market. Think about your process, think about genuine competition and have a reason why people should work for you.