What happens when tech talent teams, used to analyzing data to identify patterns, look introspectively at data about their own roles? Over the last few years, industries from technology to hospitality have experienced significant shifts.

The Great Resignation pressured employers to offer higher compensation and in a post-pandemic world, flexibility is paramount. Coupled with the economic uncertainty that led to more than 240,000 layoffs last year, the tech industry is on high alert.

In the last quarter of 2023, we released our annual trend report, Unveiling Emerging Tech Talent Trends in 2024 and Beyond. The report, which is based on data gathered and analyzed from our platform’s database of over half a million technical candidates using figures from jobs offered, jobs declined and locations is designed to illustrate the state of tech hiring and predict what is and will remain important to candidates and employers.

Overall, the data tells us that salary discrepancies, potential for upward mobility and development, and diversity and inclusion are top of mind for hiring managers and tech talent alike. In 2024, there is pressure to continue hiring to innovate. Stagnation risks the loss of strong technical talent, forcing global businesses, especially those that are not digitally native, to struggle to compete with more nimble tech-first competitors—both for talent and customers. Tech talent has made their expectations clear. How hiring teams respond will set the tone for the next era of technical hiring.

Money Matters: Navigating Salary Expectations

Money continues to make the world go round. As the primary motivator of employment, it’s no surprise that the biggest point of contention between tech talent and their employers is salary. 

High salaries are something that tech talent has come to expect, but be it because of market inflation or simply a post-Covid-19 adjustment, entry-level salaries aren’t what they used to be. According to our report, the average junior salary has dropped by roughly $12,700 in the last five years. Adding fuel to the fire, recent media buzz has spurred fears of the loyalty tax or the risk of being financially penalized for staying with the same company when there would be higher-paying jobs if they moved elsewhere. Combined, this has left new talent yearning for more and ready to leave at a moment’s notice when they don’t get it.

Balancing the supply and demand of talent and salaries depends on several factors, including what roles are most popular at a given time, and can lead to discrepancies. Where employers see salaries as a competitive investment in top talent for their business, employees expect them to be a reflection of their value and expertise.

As both parties engage in the dance of negotiation, compromise is necessary. Inflation, the rising cost of living, and increasing expectations are all growing concerns for employees. Organizations that fail to meet the financial expectations of their current and potential employees, risk losing out on the specialized skills that the employee offers and the potential to grow in tandem with the organization over time, especially in areas we are seeing considerable growth like for AI, Rust, Machine Learning and Site Reliability Engineers.

Navigating the Industry Terrain Two-fold

Though a key component, money is not the sole consideration during a job hunt. When seeking a new position, tech candidates ask where the tech roles are, but this question can be dually interpreted: where someone ranks within the company (ex. a senior-level position) and the physical working location (remote, hybrid or in-person). Though vastly different meanings, both hold high importance for potential candidates.

According to our report, fully onsite roles are slowly making a return and currently make up around 20% of open positions. However, hybrid reigns supreme with 65% of open positions on our platform and the format that is most popular with tech talent. As the future of working location continues to unfold, organizations still have the opportunity to decide which model works best for their workflow but will have to reconcile with potentially alienating prospective talent if they move away from the preferred flexibility that employees expect.

Looking at seniority, our report has uncovered a paradox where companies are eliminating entry-level roles but hiring managers complain that mid-senior level talent doesn’t fit the culture—ignoring how fruitful upskilling can be for both parties.

With a significant decrease in open positions at the entry level, talent looking to begin their tech careers is regularly passed over in favor of more experienced hires, reaping immediate access to their developed skills and knowledge. This top-heavy model eliminates the ability for junior talent to break into the industry and build a skillset from the ground up in alignment with their employer’s unique practices and values.

While talent is encouraged to differentiate themselves by refining their portfolios and resumes through hackathons, projects, and other training to enhance their skills, the burden to hire across varying levels of seniority falls on the employer. When HR teams prioritize hiring from the bottom up, they reap the benefits of internal mobility, including recruitment savings and engaged employees with a deep understanding of the organization and its values. These naturally result in strong employee retention, leading to more developed skills, higher job satisfaction and a strong work culture that ultimately benefits all parties.

Diversity and Inclusion: Are Barriers Being Broken?

The tech industry is slowly, but surely, becoming more diverse. Beyond a vanity metric, DEI has now become a strategic imperative to improve problem-solving. According to research from McKinsey, diverse teams are more reflective of a global customer base, which can lead to improved products and services.

HR has the opportunity to prioritize diversity from the ground up, beginning with the application, interview and onboarding processes. For example, by removing personal descriptors in applications to enable blind recruitment.

When it comes to culture, employees are asking to feel comfortable showing up to work as they are. Companies that structure their culture around the idea that employees can “bring their whole selves to work” or exist authentically among their peers in the workplace, will find that employee performance and retention improve long-term.

As an industry that is roughly 25% female, 9% neurodiverse, 44% Asian according to the report, progress is being made, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Being wholly inclusive takes time and effort for long-lasting change, but organizations continuing to uphold these initiatives are positioned to see the strongest results.

The technology industry is set to see major shifts in 2024 and staying ahead of hiring trends and employee satisfaction requires internal alignment. Hiring teams that fail to embrace this change will find that current and prospective employees are less tolerant of outdated practices that aren’t reflective of their values. Communicating to your employees that they are the backbone of your organization through higher salaries, flexible work locations, development of junior talent, and cultivating diverse environments are key ways teams can demonstrate commitment to the ultimate goal of raising tech hiring standards industry-wide.

Mark Chaffey

Mark Chaffey is the CEO of tech hiring platform hackajob, a business he co-founded with Razvan Creanga in 2014 aged 20, whilst they were studying at uni. Since then, hackajob has raised $35m investment to back the platform’s growth, grown to a team of 120 people and is the largest tech hiring platform in the UK and the US.