Despite ongoing cycles of layoffs by major tech companies, software engineering talent is still in high demand, with the emphasis talent leaders are placing on strong engineers only growing, according to a Karat/Harris Poll survey of 600 engineering and talent leaders.
The survey revealed that more than half of the engineering leaders said strong engineers were worth at least three times their total compensation — up more than 20% since the job market peak in 2020.
Jason Wodicka, principal engineering advocate at Karat, calls the continued acceleration of the hiring process "really interesting."
"We first started seeing interview cycles speed up during the 2020 lockdowns as remote work enabled faster scheduling," Wodicka said. "Now, even though the overall pace of hiring has slowed, we're still seeing that trend continue."
The highest performing leaders the company surveyed averaged eight days for their technical interviews — nearly a week faster than their peers. Karat's interview data from the past year confirms this trend.
"We've seen the average time to interview completion shrink from seven days in 2022 to just five days in 2023 as more candidates are prioritizing interviews and moving fast to land jobs in a tighter labor market," Wodicka said.
The survey indicated software generalists and full-stack engineers are being prioritized over more specialized skill sets.
By hiring engineers with strong problem-solving skills, engineering leaders can bring in desirable people and plug them in where they are needed most.
"This may be an example of organizations rising to the top based on having the infrastructure in place to encourage internal mobility and upskilling," Wodicka said. "This lets organizations hire the best engineers available rather than being overly focused on niche skill sets that can be taught."
Focusing on problem-solving not only opens talent pools to more candidates but also attracts top talent because people know they'll have an opportunity to learn and grow on the job.
Why AI Will Increase, Not Decrease, Demand for Software Engineers
"The growing value that leaders place on strong software engineers is really encouraging," Wodicka said. "This is a strong indication that fears of AI taking over developer jobs don't reflect what's actually happening."
Wodicka added that, if anything, these new tools are making software development more accessible to more people, which will accelerate innovation and create more demand for tech jobs, not less, adding that it's a great time to be getting into tech.
The trend shows top leaders prioritizing generalists with strong fundamental skills, which Wodicka said is a testament to the central importance of continuing learning and development.
"We've had a lot of buzzy new techs hitting the market over the past decade," Wodicka explained. "Containers, microservices, blockchain, AI, the list keeps going — and some have been more successful than others."
Because nobody enters the field knowing all these things, having curiosity and a desire to keep up with new tech is important to sustaining a long career in tech, and the pace of change is only going to continue to accelerate.
Benefits of 'Hiring Fast and Hiring Fair'
In an introduction to the report, Karat CEO and co-founder Jeffrey Spector touted the benefits of "hiring fast and hiring fair."
"It's a common misconception that equitable hiring and efficient hiring are conflicting goals," Wodicka said. "They aren't. This is something that I'm passionate about, and a fact that this year's survey data reinforces."
"Hiring fast," Wodicka explained, is about having a candidate-friendly experience that moves at the speed of talent, while "hiring fair" means giving every candidate a chance to demonstrate what they can do.
This year's report shows that the most effective hiring leaders are relying less on referrals and resume screens.
"These outdated processes can introduce pedigree bias, where candidates are judged on factors like where they went to school or worked in the past," Wodicka said. "Instead, they're evaluating candidates based on their capabilities, using assessments that give every candidate the chance to prove themselves at the application stage."
A good assessment doesn't have to be burdensome on candidates — they adapt to the level of skills demonstrated and can generate a strong signal about which candidates to advance to interviews in as little as 15 minutes.
Wodicka added that building diverse teams is an outcome of having a fair hiring process, but it's just as accurate to say that building strong teams is an outcome of having a fair process.
"Not missing out on great candidates because of pedigree bias, candidate dropout, or other negative factors is a big reason why top leaders in this survey were twice as likely to prioritize DEI," Wodicka said.
About the authorNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.