There are certain phrases we all use to denote specific periods. Flower power, for instance, symbolizes the 60s. The 80s were swinging, and the 2020s have been about survival. Two years ago, we were fighting to survive a virus; today we prepare for leaner times ahead.
2022 began with such promise - tech hiring was back on, we were attending more events and meetings in person, and everyone was trying to find the right mix of staying in and going to the office. By the end of the year, however, almost 230,000 tech employees had been laid off and we were left staring at one of the worst periods in tech employment, globally.
Layoffs are a sad truth of corporate life, and hiring is the first function to freeze in a funding winter. However, tech has been through many boom-and-bust cycles in the past and there is no doubt in my mind that we will once again come out stronger from this current downturn.
To bring you those insights, we have polled thousands of tech recruiters, hiring managers, and developers for this edition - so that you can get a comprehensive view of what ails tech hiring and what you can improve. I believe by examining both the developer perspective and the recruiting perspective side-by-side, we can build resilient, talented and inclusive tech teams that can weather any storms that may lie ahead.
With that, I wish you a happy 2023. Here's hoping it's kinder to all of us!
Founder and CEO, HackerEarth
Understanding the community
Recruiters and Talent Acquisition partners make up 45.62% of our survey respondents. The remaining 54.38% is made of global developers and engineering managers. Let’s get an in-depth look at each demography.
The recruiting community that participated is skewed towards engineering managers (54.38%), with technical recruiters making up the rest (45.62%) of the cohort. Recruiters and hiring managers that work at enterprise-sized companies make up the majority of our respondents, with more than half of the respondents working for large enterprises in the IT domain, with significant contributions from industries like finance, banking, retail, and automobile.
Hiring is mostly frozen, and will remain so in the near term
In response to the most important question of the day, 40% of the recruiters mirrored the current trend by saying they didn’t know when they would start hiring again. Only 20% of the recruiters said they planned to hire upwards of 100 developers in the coming days.
Current demand for developers
Most of our developer responses come from employees with 3-5 years (24.86%) and 1-3 years (23.05%) of work experience. This is a fair representation of the workforce that gained employment during the pandemic, and has spent the last two years working remotely while driving most of the policy changes that tech has seen.
Experience levels of developer respondents
Majority of developers are aiming to explore Blockchain and Data Science
FullStack (19.96%), frontend (14.89%), and backend developers (16.91%) make up the majority of the cohort. When asked which skills they would like to get better at or pivot to, 17.74% of devs replied with Blockchain, with 17.66% choosing Data Science.
Current domains of surveyed developers
Domains that developers are looking to explore
Developers want to get better at Go and Blockchain
Languages known and languages to learn
Frameworks known and frameworks to learn
Pandemic and the mindset shift
In previous editions of the survey, we aimed to measure just how much the pandemic has changed the technical recruiting process. Adding to that quest, we have tried to further distill the nuances of this mindset shift among technical recruiting teams.
Post-pandemic, organizations have started to better understand developer’s needs at the workplace
The pandemic - and its consequent need for remote hiring - brought to light the flaws in the technical hiring flow. Recruiters and engineering managers were forced to relook at the policies, processes, and tools they used to select top talent. The Great Resignation and Reset also facilitated an avalanche of change in this regard. Three years later, about 86% of recruiting teams and 78.7% of developers feel that the tech hiring process has improved for the better.
Do organizations better understand developer needs after the pandemic?
25% of recruiting teams say they have automated some part of the recruiting workflow
It is clear that a sizable number of organizations favor the use of automated tools for hiring. Additionally, an example of how organizations have re-aligned their hiring flow to enhance candidate experience is through the use of knowledge-sharing as an engagement tool. Social media and employer branding also features heavily in their plans to attract Gen Z talent.
Changes in hiring process since pandemic
Upskilling, and clarity on tech stack are must-haves for better hiring
This new-found alignment between both communities is also reflected in the employee offerings. Clarity on the tech hiring stack, more focus on wellness initiatives, and better upskilling opportunities rank high on the list of must-have EVPs for both organizations and developers.
Developers have adapted to a hybrid work model
Remote-first was the clarion call for developers across the globe for the last few years. However, with the pandemic easing and the novelty of working from home wearing off, developers are slowly coming back to the office.
Interestingly, developers are split on the question of productivity. While 38% of recruiting teams say that they have seen an increase in productivity since WFH became the norm, the developer community, by a slim majority, has attested that their productivity hasn’t changed all that much.
Current working model
Impact of hybrid or remote work on productivity
Engaging, sourcing, and selecting top talent
Developer hiring begins with engagement, and fostering better connections between recruiting teams and candidates. In this section we look at the methods employed to engage and source dev talent, and the challenges thereof.
Hackathons and coding workshops are preferred engagement methods; more knowledge sharing needed
Hackathons are popular with 23.3% of developers, with 25.7% opting for coding workshops. These engagement channels also rank high on the list of recruiting teams’. However, more developers said they enjoy insightful newsletters (25.68%) and webinars (23.76%) than recruiters and hiring managers.
Developer engagement methods offered by organizations and preferred by developers
Developers use LinkedIn and career pages to look for jobs, and prefer LinkedIn to showcase skills
Both the recruiter and developer community are aligned in terms of the channels they use to search and post job vacancies. However, when trying to understand a candidate’s skill levels, recruiting teams look at hackathon wins (31%) and open source contributions (38.5%) as concrete proof of competency. Developers, on the other hand, prefer to use LinkedIn posts (30%) to talk about professional achievements, and boost their online presence.
Sourcing channels preferred by developers and recruiters
How skill levels are showcased by developers, and gauged by organizations
Devs appreciate job descriptions with gender neutrality, salary mentions, and defined company tech stack
It is widely known that job descriptions (JD) with highly masculine language deters female candidates from applying. Using gender neutral language is also a signifier of a company’s efforts towards inclusivity and equality. About 20% of our devs say gender neutral language in JDs is a must-have, along with clear mention of the salary, and the company’s tech stack. Developers can match the tech stack with their own skill set, and apply for relevant jobs instead of spending time and effort on jobs which may not be a good skill fit.
In contrast, fewer recruiters (16%) think gender neutral language is an essential inclusion in a JD. They, however, do align with devs in terms of salary mentions, clarifying tech stacks and upskilling initiatives.
Must haves in job descriptions
Recruiters are still highly dependent on college degrees to source and select talent
As much as recruiters have adopted gender-inclusive language, they are sadly still looking at traditional markers of competency when filtering resumes. College degrees are important to 67% of recruiters, along with years of experience (58.83%). Consequently, developers have also been continuing to highlight these markers on their resumes to catch a recruiter’s attention, even though they don’t necessarily agree that academic pedigree is the only marker of skill.
Resume inclusions by developers, and resume filtering criteria
Assessments and Interviews
In the past editions of this survey, we endeavored to measure and understand how tech assessments and coding interviews have changed since in-person processes stopped being the norm. We continue to quantify the operational shifts in this regard.
Developers say the assessment process is smoother, but coding tests are tougher
About 36.3% of the polled developers say that the tech assessment process is now better than the pre-pandemic process. Along with this, devs also appreciate that companies have ramped up location-agnostic hiring, reduced on-site assessments, and moved to digital-first methods of skill assessment.
Perceived changes in smoothness of developer assessments, as per developers
How developer assessments have changed, as per developers
Recruiting teams who use tech assessment tool say it reduces Time-to-hire, and helps in better alignment
About 68.3% of polled recruiting teams say they use a dedicated tech assessment tool for their hiring needs. They have seen a marked change in candidate experience and their TTH (Time-to-Hire). They also see better alignment between their function and engineering managers, leading to a more efficient and skill-oriented hiring funnel.
Organizational use of assessment tools
Benefits of using an assessment tool, as per organizations
Reduced hiring numbers drive recruiters to drop assessment tools
The remaining 33.92% of recruiters who do not use a tech assessment tool say that they don’t need one currently as their hiring needs have lessened. They also said that they would not like to use a tool that had a very small question bank, did nothing to improve candidate or user experience, and was hard to learn.
*PRO TIP: Using an automated assessment platform can streamline tech hiring by helping you choose the right candidate in a faster, unbiased manner. Manual selection is fraught with issues, and using a platform like HackerEarth Assessments can help you get rid of these easily. Know more
Reasons for discontinuing assessment tool licenses
Reasons why non-adopters don’t use assessment tools
Engineering managers continue to use a mixture of tools to conduct online coding interviews
The pandemic has brought the need for dedicated interview tools to the fore, and 59.8% of our engineering manager community says that they use tailor-made coding interview tools for the task. However, the absence of it causes hiring managers to resort to a mixture of online platforms for a single interview.
Of the respondents who do not use a dedicated interview tool, 32.45% said they use a video tool and ask candidates to explain take-home assignments. About 27% said they use a video platform in collaboration with an online IDE.
Organizational usage of coding interview tools
How coding interviews are conducted without a dedicated tool
Both developers and organizations think using coding interview tools makes for an efficient, candidate-friendly processes
For recruiting teams, the heightened candidate experience and reduced TTH (time-to-hire) are the most beneficial aspects of using custom-made coding interview tools. They also enjoy the ability to structure the technical interviews better on dedicated platforms, and create better alignment between stakeholders.
Developers appreciate Built-in IDEs, a key feature of new-age technical interview tools, and the ability to code in a language of their choice. About 26.89% of the developer pool also highlighted the ease of interviewing without having to constantly shift between multiple tools and tabs, thus allowing them to be more present in the interview.
*PRO TIP: About 23.6% of recruiters said that they are not using a tech interview tool as they are not hiring in large numbers. The hiring freeze offers the perfect opportunity to overhaul your tech recruiting funnel, and fix flaws. Previous research indicates that approximately 28% of candidates skip an interview or stop communicating with a company during the interview process.
At HackerEarth, we have always championed the need for behavioral and process changes in the way online tech interviews are conducted. Automated assessments with benchmarked results can help highlight candidates’ coding skills. HackerEarth platforms also offer custom interview questions which can help interviewers judge skills accurately.
Know more about:
Advantages of coding interview tools, as per organizations
Advantages of using a coding interview tool, as per developers
Tech hiring challenges
When it comes to hiring coders, there is no one size fits all. Collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers has always been a source of friction, and newer challenges are thrown up as behaviors and expectations change. In this section we look at the top hiring challenges that tech recruiting teams face today.
Fullstack continues be the most in-demand role, and the hardest role to hire for
Continuing the trend from previous surveys, Fullstack hiring tops the chart for problem areas in tech hiring. Technologies like blockchain, machine learning, and data science which dominated the headlines during the COVID years, are also in the running for hard-to-hire roles.
Fullstack also aces the list for in-demand roles, followed by frontend and backend developer roles.
In demand tech roles at surveyed organizations
Hardest tech roles to fill
Recruiting teams say remote work has lowered accountability and created more silos, while developers think it has slowed down hiring
With all the pros of remote or hybrid work, there were always bound to be some cons. More recruiting teams than developers believe that the remote work culture has lowered accountability across teams and caused siloing of functions. An almost equal number of both cohorts (26% of recruiting teams, and 24% of devs) also think WFH has made it harder to foster proper workplace culture, and had a negative impact on attrition.
About 26.43% of developers say that remote work has also made the hiring process more time-consuming than before. This could be due to the stricter assessment process being enforced by companies, or the need for multiple interviews to ascertain culture and skill fit before hiring. Interestingly, only 16.84% of recruiters and engineering managers agree with this statement.
Challenges with remote or hybrid work models
Recruiting teams are considerably concerned about employee attrition in the short-term
The ‘candidate market’ of 2021 and early 2022 resulted in many developers leaving their jobs for better pastures. Even in a recessionary market, 37.8% of recruiters are ‘moderately worried’ about near-term attrition with 15.9% saying that it’s a grave concern.
Rather unsurprisingly, only about 16% of recruiting teams said they faced no attrition, or faced little attrition over the last 12 months, with over 80% of recruiting teams attesting to having endured considerable attrition in 2022.
Level of concern about attrition in the short-term
Degree of attrition in the past year
Lack of engineering culture and leadership opportunities biggest factors for developer attrition
When it comes to the factors driving this attrition, developers say that it mostly boils down to having no say in the direction the company is growing (21.42%), a lack of proper engineering culture (25.43%) that fosters innovation and learning, encourages micromanagement (18.79%) and does not adequately compensate devs for their efforts (23.36%). Recent layoffs, pay cuts, and ongoing market movements might also drive developers to seek opportunities with more stability and protection.
It’s important to note that when we asked recruiting teams what they thought was driving attrition among developers, they mostly chose compensation (31.6%). While they are cognizant of the other factors mentioned by devs, there is a lack of understanding among the recruiter community as to the true nature of a developer’s expectations from their role, and the company.
Reasons for developer attrition
The makings of 'culture'
Amorphous yet all-important, the definition of ‘culture’ has undergone a sea change in recent years. 2022 saw us debating new trends like quiet quitting, and moonlighting. Here’s our community weighing in on the debate.
Developers want more communication, and interesting challenges to work on at their workplace
We asked both developers and recruiting teams what they think makes for a good work culture. Developers say they would like more transparency with regards to company direction (16.96%), frequent communication from the leadership team (18.12%), and a clear path for career growth in terms of upskilling opportunities (15.32%) and challenging work projects (19%).
The recruiter community also seems aligned with these expectations, proving that the discrepancy lies in not how we view ‘work culture’ but perhaps the implementation of on-ground policies.
Characteristics of a good work culture
Developers depend on their community for honest workplace reviews
Recruiters already know that social media plays a huge role in how developers perceive a brand. Devs are also known to make use of their community connections and ask fellow coders for honest reviews of a company.
While 29.3% of recruiters think that the ‘Culture’ page on the brand website is an important channel of discovery, a higher percentage (35.7%) of devs say that they would read what the company has to say about itself in great detail.
How work culture is spoken about, and how developers discover it
Developers and recruiting teams say their companies can better navigate downturns
As with COVID, the recent spate of layoffs has put the tech community under a microscope again. How a company handles moments of crisis says a lot about its internal preparedness to deal with downturns, the foresightedness of its leaders, and how much it values its tech talent.
We asked both recruiting teams and developers if they felt that their companies had done all they could to help them deal with the recent challenges. Majority of recruiting teams (78%) and developers (75%) feel that the situation could have been handled in a better manner.
Can your organization do better during difficult times?
Transparent communication is crucial to navigating difficult times
To understand this further, we asked our respondents to shed more light on their experiences. Those who said their company had done enough to prepare them for current conditions, felt that transparent communication from their leadership prepared them well for current challenges. They also highlighted the fact that there was always room to negotiate changes forced due to the market trends, and valued the empathy with which things were handled.
What organizations did well during difficult times
Devs feel employers can show more leadership during tough times
The need for clear and honest communication - especially during tough times - becomes even more apparent when we look at the suggestions from the respondents who do not feel their company’s response to the economic crisis was adequate. These participants feel in-person announcements of tough news, and frequent communication can go a long way in eliminating surprises. They also think performance improvement plans would be helpful in helping employees cope with similar challenges.
What organizations can do better during difficult times
Developers and organizations agree on the importance of DEI initiatives
We asked both developers and recruiters if DEI initiatives were an important point of discussion. Turns out, developers care slightly more about DEI than recruiters do.
It has often been said that developers - specially Gen Z - like to associate themselves with companies that create value and affect real-life change through their tech, or CSR initiatives, and this is reflected in their approach towards DEI initiatives.
DEI initiatives and their importance
Coders from non-tech backgrounds feel discriminated against
An example of inclusion that goes beyond race and gender-inclusive initiatives is a company’s willingness to accept coders from a non-tech background. Around 38.52% of our developer pool is from a non-tech background, and they are either self-taught (30.05%) or have learned their skills through workshops (19%), hackathons (36.31%) and other side hustles (14.24%).
Important to note that almost (87.92%) of this self-taught developer pool says that they faced biases when applying for jobs as hiring managers weren’t convinced of their skills. As stated above, recruiters and hiring managers still look for traditional markers of excellence like academic pedigree and previous work experience when hiring devs. There has been a remarkable mindset shift towards skill as the primary hiring criterion, but the invisible glass ceiling still reigns.
Developer respondents who pivoted to a career in tech
Did developers face biases while pivoting to the tech industry?
How developers managed to pivot to a tech job
Staying ahead of trends
The featured tech stack for a company keeps changing over time. A crucial aspect of staying ahead of tech trends is to keep a check on new skills and build proficiency for it ahead of time.
AI/ML and Blockchain among top new skills that developers and organizations bet on
Both devs and tech recruiters believe that the same technologies will play a pivotal role in the next 5 years. According to them, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Blockchain are the primary areas that will see huge growth in the coming future. These are also the skills that recruiters imagine themselves hiring for in larger numbers in the future, and which devs across the world want to get better at.
Skills developers want to learn, and recruiters will hire for, in 5 years
Developers and recruiting teams use similar avenues to stay in the know
When asked about the channels they use to stay on top of current tech trends, both recs and devs said they use tech blogs or vlogs, and news portals like HackerNews to understand and predict trends.
Avenues to stay up to date with tech trends
Developers appreciate upskilling opportunities, and 91.5% of organizations offer such initiatives
Tech is an ever-evolving field, and developers need to continuously hone their skills. Further, nearly 55% of recruiting teams consider upskilling opportunities to be ‘must-have‘ EVPs. So it makes sense that nearly 92% of the recruiting teams we surveyed say that they offer some kind of upskilling opportunities to their developer workforce.
Among the organizations that offer upskilling opportunities, third party tie-ups seem to be the preferred way to do so, with 22.9% of organizations saying that they assign challenging projects to developers in the hopes that it will facilitate upskilling.
Do organizations offer upskilling initiatives?
Upskilling opportunities offered at organizations
Developers prefer hands-on learning
The developers we polled said that they prefer hands-on learning via dedicated coding practice platforms like HackerEarth. Since these platforms are designed with a skill-first approach towards learning, they are more likely to help devs achieve their goals and improve proficiency.
Learning via YouTube (29.15%) and from peers and colleagues (16.42%) also helps developers upgrade their skill level. Only 21% of them said they would like to learn via company-approved learning paths, showcasing the discrepancy between what companies think is a good method to upskill and what developers actually want.
How developers currently upskill
*PRO TIP: Employee retention is one of the top HR priorities for 2023. Providing opportunities to upskill your workforce is a great way to achieve this. The commonly used 70-20-10 model for learning and development holds that:
- formal learning has a 10% impact,
- interactions with others has a 20% impact,
- and hands-on experience has a whooping 70% impact on employees’ skill development
There are a multitude of solutions focusing on the 10% but not many that focus on the 70%. HackerEarth’s aim is to enable this hands-on experience across skills and proficiency levels.
In the last two editions of this survey, we focused exclusively on tech recruiters and hiring managers to understand their take on the developer hiring process. This time round, we have drawn comparative insights by polling recruiting teams, including both recruiters and engineering managers, as well as developers to form a comprehensive, in-depth report of where tech recruiting stands today.
Our survey highlights the progress that has been made in recent years - the increased adoption of dedicated tech hiring tools for instance, but much still needs to change. For a truly diverse and skill-first tech economy we need to do more to break the invisible barriers, and create workplaces that are truly focused on skill and merit. Along with this, there is an increased need among tech leaders to be more strategic, and showcase empathy and care in the midst of unfavorable economic cycles and market pressure.
Let’s hope we see more of this in the following year.