The Monopolization of Tech Talent, And What You Can Do About It

Leadership

2021-10-13T16:56:32.288Z

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The monopolization of products and services has already molded our economy as giant companies disrupt industry after industry (or buy disruptive companies). To no one’s surprise, these large corporations’ success means that they are also starting to monopolize talent.

Unless you are managing a large company, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract and retain technical talent. The situation is bound to get worse as these tech giants grow larger and accumulate resources to attract the best talent.

Why This Isn’t Ideal

With the big firms having the lion’s share of the job market, the digital economy talent acquisition arena is drastically becoming a one-man show. The lack of competition can worsen the inequalities in the labor markets and hinder innovation and entrepreneurial growth. For instance, eCommerce giants like Amazon can strong-arm the formulation of taxation policies and hire the brightest and most competitive tech talent to carry out essential tasks to their business. This only worsens the already-pressing human resource problems for small firms.

Can We Do Anything About It?

Are we all doomed to lose our brightest software engineers to Amazon and Google?

No.

But--engineering leaders need to focus on this problem and understand what truly matters to software developers. Continuing the cultures of the past is a sure-fire way to continue losing.

There are essentially only two ways to overcome the monopolization of tech talent. Both are listed below.

Understand How Many Engineers You Need

The demand for software engineers currently outweighs the supply. Therefore, you need to keep your custom code base at its minimum to reduce the number of engineers you actually need. Keeping the number of engineers in your company at a minimum makes hiring the ones you actually need more straightforward.

Use as much off-the-shelf software as possible (e.g. AWS tools and automation). Knowing when to build vs buy is just as important in your organizational strategy as your technology strategy.

Attract & Retain Engineers Over Your Competition

Easy right?

Attracting and retaining technical talent over the big monopolies is a multi-step process. You’ve got to look at your current culture, find gaps, figure out what matters most to your current and future team members, message it accurately, and then actually take action to uphold those cultural changes. On top of that, you’ve got to consider essentials like compensation and a remote/hybrid policy. It’s certainly not as simple as, “let’s brag about PTO days.”

Hero quote

It’s certainly not as simple as, “let’s brag about PTO days.”

The first two steps (assessing your current culture and finding weaknesses) we can’t help you within this article. But we can help you find out what matters to software engineers, at least generally speaking.

Two months ago, we conducted a software developer survey where we asked about compensation, culture, and what matters most. Here are some of the top takeaways.

What Matters Most to Developers Today?

According to about 500 developers, here are the things that matter most in their careers:

In order of most important to least:

  1. Compensation
  2. Flexible work schedule
  3. Remote options
  4. Company culture
  5. Technology
  6. Impact of product or company
  7. Industry

Different Folks Care About Different Things

Unsurprisingly, not all developers rank “compensation” as number one. When asked to rank what matters most, we found three general archetypes for developers.

  • True Believers: Developers who value experience and culture over anything else
  • Pure Tech: Developers who care about frameworks and languages first and foremost
  • Flexibility Over Everything: Developers who value flexible work conditions and remote options.

We think this is good news. If you’re a product with dated tech who maybe can’t pay as much as Big Tech, you still have hope. Maybe you can provide “flexibility over everything” and attract folks that way.

Understand Why People Leave Their Jobs

If you know why people leave, you can take action to fix it. When we surveyed developers, we found two interesting points of data:

  1. Male software developers most often leave their jobs because they have poor relationships with the management (20% of responders)
  2. Female engineers leave their posts most often because of a lack of professional growth opportunities (42% of responders)

We hear “people quit their bosses” and “women are promoted less often” a lot in the professional world, and it seems it may be true for developers as well. If you’re managing or recruiting a team, address these issues. Is there anything you could be doing better?

Burnout is Here to Stay

62% of software developers have experienced burnout in 2021. The top reasons being:

  1. Poor relationship with management
  2. Lack of interest in work
  3. Long hours

Out of the 38% that didn’t report burnout, taking time off and focusing on mental health/wellbeing were the main ways they prevented it.

Point being: Burnout will affect most of your team members at some point, which can quickly lead to dissatisfaction and turnover. Improving your weak areas can reduce this which is a win for everybody.

Download the Developer Survey

There is more data and information in the survey, and you can view it all by filling in your basic information here.