Mondo – Top Salaries in Technology and Digital Marketing for 2020 with Stephanie Wernick Barker
On today’s show, we have Stephanie Wernick Barker, President at Mondo here to talk about a fun subject—salaries are something we all care about. Stephanie and I talk specifically about top salaries within tech and digital marketing for 2020, based on their latest research.
Plus we’ll get into a bit on pay equity, as well as what the impact remote and hybrid work models will have on salaries and comp.
Listening time: 29 minutes
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Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have on Stephanie from Mondo and we’re gonna be talking about a fun subject, which is something we all care about, is salaries. But we’re going to be talking specifically about top salaries in tech and digital marketing for 2020. They’re based on their latest research. So let’s do introductions. Stephanie, would you do the audience a favor and introduce both yourself? And also Mondo?
Sure. Well, thank you so much for having me on. I’m really excited to chat today. So my name is Stephanie Wernick Barker. I am the president of Mondo. I have been with the company for going on nine years, so it’s been a wild ride, to go through just so many years with the company. But we are the largest niche digital and tech staffing firm in the country. And we really focus on providing top talent in the tech and digital marketing space.
I love that. And so that’s your emphasis. And there’s so there’s a real reason for you to kind of keep track of comp. Because you’re dealing with it day in and day out both on the client-side and candidates as well, right?
Yes, absolutely. I mean, this is the number one driver for the success of our customers, our candidates. And of course, the byproduct is our success from it.
Right. So let’s, let’s talk about what you learned when you did this research for 2020. So obviously, murder hornets and a presidential election, and all the other stuff going on, you know, aside? What did you what do you what did you learn in both tech and digital marketing?
I think that what’s wild is not just 2020, but every single year, it gets more and more competitive. And I think it’s interesting, because it’s not just last year, it’s everything leading up to this moment with, you know, COVID and how that affected so much. But it just continues to get more and more competitive. And you know, certain roles become more of, you know, a commodity where there’s a lot of candidates out there. So the salaries stay pretty stagnant.
But for the really incredibly, um, you know, incredibly talented, high-level technologists that really are super technical, where they and then also have incredible communication and can really have a vision and really matching like the right and left brain in their roles. Those talents continue to drive the salaries higher and higher. So, you know, last year, we saw just an overwhelming really two things, one, an overwhelming increase of a need for highly competent, highly skilled workers.
And then the second piece is the salaries just with COVID are it really opened up this, you know, this geo, the getting rid of the geographical boundaries, it really just opened up where the salaries and all the markets have really come to more of a flatline where it’s just pretty consistent now, across all the markets.
So I was gonna ask you about how remote work has impacted salaries. So as you’ve seen that you know, the aperture, I guess, for staffing firms and for recruiters is okay, good news. You have, you have more candidates because now you can look all over the world, in theory. But also, in theory, candidates can do the same. So it’s created more competition as well. Right. So how does remote work kind of play out for you all and what you see both from your clients, but also from candidates?
It’s exactly what you said. I mean, it’s impacted the supply and demand like on all on all levels, because yes, we, in theory, we have now access to all these candidates. But you know, when we have these large tech companies from Silicon Valley, making bold statements that they’re now going to say that you can work from anywhere, and they hold so many openings, and they’re constantly looking for the best of the best. And they don’t have to live in California and they can all of a sudden, you know, live in Denver or in Minneapolis or Nashville, wherever it may be.
Now, all of a sudden, these candidates can apply to opportunities that they never had access to before. They want to live in New York or LA or San Francisco. So, candidates are having multiple offers. It’s definitely creating a very competitive landscape all around not just in salary, but just in opportunity.
So I wrote an article on—it’s okay to tell the host that he’s a moron, on this show—I wrote an article for Indeed, that basically said location-based pay should be done away with.
Eliminated. And the reason that I got there intellectually was I think it hides bias. I think we’ve hidden behind paying Johnny more money in LA, than Sally in Topeka because well, Johnny lives in LA. But the job’s a job. Whatever that job is, like digital marketing, whatever that job is, we’ve historically said, well cost of living, and then this, that, the other. And we’ve adjusted pay.
Compensation professionals hate my guts at this particular moment in history. However, I do believe that’s how we’ve hidden hire bias, some bias, at least comp bias in the past. What are you hearing from candidates? Again, it’s okay to tell me that that’s a stupid idea, and William, you should really delete that article. That’s fine. But what are you hearing? Because you’re on the front lines. You get to hear it from both sides, both candidates and from your clients? What are you hearing?
First of all, William, that I mean, that that’s brilliant, and it should—I fully support it—so perhaps my name will now be attached to yours on that. And people think comp professionals, disliking myself as well. But the value of what you bring, is the value of your work, is the value of your compensation. And what you said is so important.
It’s, a job is a job and how you fulfill those job duties equates to the value you bring to an organization. And where you live, while it has had a lot of impact based off of commute and cost of living and all those things, I mean, that’s your prerogative. And I think that what we found in the past year is exactly what you said. You know, a big theory I have is that I think companies have really been unmasked. And I think that no longer can you sell your organization based on cool office space, or free snacks, or a ping pong table. I mean, that was so the past decade of what people thought was cool are these big campuses have all these things.
It’s really now about, from a candidate standpoint, it’s with these companies being en mass with being remote. It’s, it’s the feeling of your culture because that’s what culture is, it’s a feeling. And it’s how you come in every day. Who you work with. The values of the organization. So from a candidate standpoint, and the salary standpoint, I mean, just the competitive nature, it’s not only now are there more jobs, but now it’s people can really see the opportunities for what they are based on the quality of the organizations and the leadership there. And you just have to be, you have to offer a great opportunity that’s so far beyond what we used to have access to. That’s what we’re finding.
So how do you sell culture now? Because you’re right. I mean, before, when we were all in the box, it was camaraderie is you know, the job. But it was also all the other accouterments, you know, lunches being, you know, brought in and things like that. So culture became location based, or office base, etc. How to how do you find your clients? Or how do you help your clients is probably a better way to say it. How do you help them position culture? Today?
It’s all about their core values is what do they believe in? Who are the people that they are? Like? What kind of human being are you and how does that fit into the organization’s core values? I really believe this value-based match is because that’s when you can move at the highest speeds, when you have people around you that share the same core values, you can be completely different from all walks of life. But if you have the skillset, and you align with the people you’re speaking to, based off of values, that’s where the fit is.
So you know, when we’re working with clients, of course, right, number one is do they have the right skill set? That’s that’s Yes, of course, we need to match the skill. But nine out of ten times any organization is going to hire the person with potential that they can coach up and teach how to have those skills if they share the same values and if they are someone they want to work with. And they believe they will be a culture add to their team and that’s based on the person they are. And that’s the biggest thing that we find from our clients and it’s so not a plug and play anymore. It is so much more of a value fit.
I love that. And there’s potentiality. I love what you said you use, like, competency is always going to be important and still important. But potentiality, we’re looking at that, then you’re looking at fit, making sure that one fits to the team and fits to the task. How do you talk salaries? You know, when you’re talking with especially a new client, and also with, you know, candidates. How do y’all go about the conversation of Okay, comp? Let’s get around to it, you know, sooner rather than later. What’s the comp? How do you have that conversation on both sides?
Absolutely. So, well, I mean, the client-side, it’s usually pretty easy, right? They’ve got a budget and wherever they came with their research. Or it’s, there’s a few things in this current age. So on the client-side, yes, they’re working within a budget that’s coming from the directive from, you know, the top down. Of, okay, this is the budget allocated, these are the number of roles we need, these are the level of roles we need based off of the tasks. And then it’s saying, Okay, what are we able to have concessions on? And how are we able to get what we’re looking for within the budget we have.
A lot of the time when we’re speaking with clients, right? If they’re, for example, you know, just this past week, we’ve been interviewing all of our clients that we’re working with nationwide, to understand how many people are looking. To how many people have the directive from the top, that they are going to have a hybrid, or work from anywhere model moving forward permanently. And the reason I bring this up is it’s really important, because if they have a hybrid model, or a complete work from anywhere, going back to the budget conversation with clients, it’s much easier to then say, Okay, we have something of value to bring, we don’t have to have the commuting costs, we can open it up nationwide.
So now it’s saying, okay, maybe you don’t have to make concessions in the skill set, rather versus Okay, if it’s on-site now, right. And they need someone in the office five days a week on site, when when COVID is done, you’re having a much smaller market. So okay, what are you looking to, or can you pay more money? Do you if you want, if you’re going to pay this budget? What can they not have? Can they be a little bit more junior?
So it’s really looking to understand the client’s needs in this onsite or remote is truly driving candidates decision making. So then, you know, going to the candidate side, it’s it always comes I mean, there’s, of course, there’s a lot of laws out there about you know, you can’t under you can’t learn what they’re currently earning, that’s, you know, having a bias, whatever. But it’s, it’s really about, what are you looking to make, because a lot of people have been, you know, let’s say an accountant’s been in the role for five to eight years, and they’ve been maybe perhaps, you know, looking to be in a high growth role, going from a corporate environment to a high growth environment.
And they’re looking for a compensation jump, a lot of people do leave companies to find a higher compensation because someone from the outside is paying for the value of the skill they’ve acquired elsewhere. But it’s just really about what are you looking to make. And what’s important to you. Because it’s much more important on both sides to learn about the going back to the values, the values and flexibility on both sides to marry the two people together and make the comp work for both parties.
So I’m gonna ask a pay equity question, and it’s gonna be relatively naive, so you’re going to beat me over the head with this. But from an outsider looking in, if we have nine engineers on staff, and let’s say all nine have 10 years experience and relatively, they’re Twinkies. They have all we do relatively the same as the same school and have the same education etc. Okay, so let’s just act like they’re number two pencils or Twinkies?
Why do we ask candidates? And this is again, naive. Why do we ask candidates what they want to make? As opposed to looking at what they should make? Give you a for example. In that scenario, the nine are all guys, and they all make $250,000. Sally applies to the job. We like Sally, Sally’s got the exact same experience, all that stuff. Everything. Again. Twinkie. Yeah, Sally, Sally, what do you want to make? Sally says $200,000.
It sounds like at least historically, we’ve viewed that both in HR and in recruiting, we viewed that as like, we just saved money out of the budget. But and you know, again, academically, we just put Sally in a pay equity situation where it’s going to be hard for her to catch up to her peers. You know, just because she’s $50,000 short at the start, she’s $50,000 behind them. So why is in salary instead of asked of the candidate, why isn’t it said here’s what people like you, with your experience, make at our firm? Period.
It’s a very good question.
Good, naive. So go ahead and tell me where I’ve got this wrong. But I’m curious as to how we got to pay equity. I mean, I think that historically, I think I understand most of that. But today, especially with the transparency around comp, why are we asking candidates? Why aren’t we telling candidates here’s what you’ll make?
Yep. Well, first of all, it’s a great question. And I appreciate the picture you painted. So listen, I’m no expert in this. I mean, we do staffing. Of course, we focus on this. I’m not in corporate HR comp, however, I do know enough to say, you know, based off my gut, and there’s no right or wrong answer to this. But what I will say is, first of all, we absolutely do tell candidates especially like, that’s why we have the salary guide. That’s why we learn what is common. That’s why we approach candidates with the budget of what we have.
We always have to ask people, because listen, some organizations, it goes back to the organizations, right? It could be okay, this is what these candidates make at my organization. But company X and company Y have totally different salary bands for the same skill set, right. So if this one candidate is applying to, candidate to X and Y, and it’s a mid-market and enterprise company, and they have different pay grades. I mean, you have to understand that it gives the candidate the narrative to be able to dictate and use leverage for different pay grades.
So it’s really just since it’s not regulated, like from the standpoint of like, you know, five, it can’t be black and white. And there’s so much room for gray area, based off what the market dictates that’s why we end up in these positions. But I mean, you’re 100% correct, we do go to candidates and say, This is what, because a lot of people might be in positions where they, you know, they perhaps were making something crazy at one, at company X, and then they go back into the job market. And then they have a reality check, like, Hey, this is actually what candidates with your skill level are making in the masses. And we do education around there all the time.
But it’s a fine line that you have to walk and you have to figure out and you can give people the information. But since there’s different pays for different skill sets across different organizations, and different internal experience, or better negotiating power. I mean, this is where we lead to these, these places. And the last thing I’ll say is organizations with pain points, we find, you know, that we find that they make concessions for people if they have a really strong pain point to hire for project work or wherever it may be. And that’s probably another reason why organizations get into the places they’re in with pay equity because of, of the pain points and urgency to address them.
Yeah, you’re right, if you’ve dug, especially like technical debt, if you’ve dug yourself a huge hole, you’re probably more than willing to overspend. I just, you know, I see a lot of bigger guys, of course, I’m gonna see this, I see a lot of guys leveraging the hell out of that. And that just creates more problems down the road. Because at one point, we have to have a reckoning of making sure that we get all of that right, just with gender and other things.
But I think for research, the way I look at your research is you’re educating both sides. You know, this is one of the beauties of your research is that you’re giving it to your clients and saying, Hey, this is the market, just in case, FYI. Just in case you’re not paying attention to it. We are. This is the market. So in case you thought that that position was a $140,000 position, you should probably rethink that.
B, you’re also educating and doing this, you’re educating the candidates, and then they get to kind of see. So hopefully we can fix some of those inequities. I mean, that’s ultimate ultimately. So I love your research.
When you look at Tech and digital marketing, what was their top, either top positions or top skills that were really kind of in-demand or that shocked you?
Yes, absolutely. Well, I think last year was the year where companies prioritized and advanced their digital transformation agendas. That was the biggest thing we’ve seen and by a landslide. So, so many, I mean, especially the enterprise level with cloud-based solutions at, you know, a large scale. They have prioritized all of their development for their, for their cloud-based initiatives.
So just so many things from you know, AWS and software engineers for the digital transformation, were by far the greatest demand that we’ve we saw, you know, coast to coast. I mean, we probably had an increase by, like, 75% of placing these resources. And my gosh, the best of the best people, they are few and far between. There’s a lot of people that, you know, are admins or lower level, but really brilliant developers and architects in the cloud-based solutions few and far between.
Yeah, I can see that. And again, it’s a good year to kind of rethink those things. “2020.” And now. It’s a good time to rethink how you do all that stuff. And so I can see that, it’s a little bit outside of y’all’s purview, but a data scientist is kind of the same thing. We’ve seen a spike in data scientists. It’s like now everyone has woken up and said, We need a data scientist. So, so there’s, I mean, there’s kids getting their BA or getting their masters, and they’re already being recruited. So it’s, you know there’s a scarcity when people are getting recruited out of high school. So where do you want to? What’s your next research? Tell us a little bit about what you’re going to do next with your salary research.
I think the biggest thing for us is, it’s this notion of where the world is going to go. It’s really going to change the landscape for how you hire, what you hire, how you pay. Do you do contract? Do you do the flexible, you know, elastic workforce, where you do sprint-based hiring for highly technical and highly skilled people? While expanding your you know, your permanent workforce from more of business-focused people?
I mean, for us, we are really, so passionately interested in being on the front lines of this is not just about our research of salaries, right, this is dictating how the world is going to take shape. I mean, are we going to finally have more of a balance, you know, with as Americans with life? Are we going to, you know, finally have work-life integration? And how is that going to affect our pay, how we work, where we work? And, you know, I think just the whole topic is just so intriguing, and it’s just such an honor to be on the front lines of how much we can help these organizations and candidates really realize their full potential of work and life with how the world has shaped.
I think it’s helped. It’s interesting because candidates are asking, as you know. They’re asking if the job, it’s remote now because we’re in a pandemic. So is this remote forever? And HR doesn’t necessarily know the answer to that yet. And so there’s kind of some chaos there because the company doesn’t know for sure yet what that’s gonna be. What the hybrid model will be, or a variation.
And so it’s putting recruiters in a really awkward position of being able to not answer, but try to answer as best they can. And I’ve talked to a couple of recruiters about this. And they said, Listen, we just tell the truth. They don’t know. The client doesn’t know. They’re gonna figure out hybrid once COVID is over. I mean, they’re going to be developing it now, they’re developing it now. But they’re going to have to test a bunch of things to figure out where it settles. So they don’t know. And, you know, not a great answer. But the answer that, you know, best is suits, kind of the situation that we’re at right now.
So one of the things I wanted to ask as we roll out, one of the things I want to ask you is, you know what you see in flexibility because I think you probably saw the same thing. But a lot of the layoffs that went on in November and December impacted women adversely. And what Romi at Fairygodboss was telling me is, I didn’t know, is it adversely impacted women of color.
So the layoffs, not just impacted women but impacted women of color. She was hopeful that COVID and everything that we’ve been through, creates a little bit more flexibility on the other side, for men and women. But like she was saying that you know, a lot of the impact was because someone had to take care of kids. And so someone had to you know, there’s perception, right? And so she said, Well, you know, first of all, all that, first of all, it really was an impact. It really, really impacted a lot of people.
But there might be a silver lining in that companies come back and that they’re more flexible with people around their schedules, when they work and how they work, and all those types of things. Are you already having conversations with either clients or candidates about that?
Absolutely. Well, I can even start with just at Mondo I mean, so you know, I’m the president, I just actually had a baby. I just came back from maternity leave, actually.
Thank you so much. So I have a four-month-old. And, you know, I have, we have over 50% of our leadership in our organization as women, and they’re all in that place of having children. So I can just speak from a few things. I mean, first and foremost is flexibility is the most important thing, because it literally people had to choose for so long. And it’s such an old-school way.
It’s like, so amazing to me how we have, look what we’ve done with technology over time, and technology has been this huge—even just video conferencing up until last year, barely any organizations had adopted video conferencing in the capacity, where it can actually make collaboration possible, where you can have work from anywhere. You can have flexibility, no it’s not the same as in person, but it can make such an impact where you can still accomplish what you want to accomplish. And to see that how much humanity has lagged behind from a professional way of actually leveraging technology to be able to have flexibility. I mean, that to me, it has been amazing. And yes, I mean, you have to offer us going back to what I talked about earlier of organizations being unmasked.
If you don’t put your people first and if you don’t offer the flexibility in terms of perhaps it’s best for you to work from, you know, 7 am to 9 am, and then 10 am to 4 pm. And then maybe time back on that. You need to be responsible for the value in what you bring, not the hours in which you work. And you have to have a really strong leadership model of promoting an autonomous workforce truly caring about every person that you work with. And to be able to provide them the tools and empower them to make the decision of how and where and in which they get their work done.
And it’s different for every single person because we’re all wired differently. And so yes, I feel very strongly about the fact that not only do we have to offer flexibility to women, but to all people. And it’s a shame that we haven’t been more progressive and aggressive about leveraging the power of technology to provide us with that opportunity. So yeah, I mean, going back, the last point I’ll make is, companies are not going to be able to compete for top talent, because now, the power is truly in the market. It’s in the people, not in the employer.
Yes. I see the same thing. And it’s interesting candidates are driving some of this change. I mean, some of it’s obviously a little bit meta. But so the candidates are demanding difference, which is great, because we’ve talked about diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity and equality for a while, in different ways. But if candidates, if candidates drive this, and they say, yeah, your flex model that didn’t work for me. And if they’re really talented, you know, as a company, you’ve got a choice. You either change and adapt, or you lose that talent. And this goes to all the areas, every facet of D&I that I can think of. But I’ve enjoyed our time together. The next time y’all have some new research I definitely would love to do another podcast, and I just appreciate your time.
Thank you so much. Same to you. It was a pleasure to speak with you and I hope you have a great day.
Absolutely, and for everyone that listens to the RecruitingDaily podcast—until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.