Demand for Tech Workers Highest Since DotCom Drives Up Referral $ and Talent Choice

Wired November 2021 pp22-23 |Business|”Help (Desperately Wanted)” “Flexible WFH policies, huge signing bonuses, fancy cookies, giant pinatas-startups and big tech companies are locked in a battle of perks to attract engineers and developers” by Arielle Pardes

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Besides VC funding for startups and tech company projects, digital transformation generally is increasing the demand for tech talent. Images from

Startups like “RevenueCat”, featured in the Wired article, are looking to add staff after venture capitalists infused “an all-time high of $288 billion worldwide” early in 2021. Demand, from startups and existing big tech companies, is the strongest since the DotCom era for engineers and software developers. In raw numbers “between March and July, there were more than 323,000 job openings for software engineers...13% higher than in 2016.” “Postings for other tech jobs, such as data engineering positions, have increased 312 percent in the past five years.”

Pouring on the incentives

$10,000 and even as high as $50,000 are being offered as a referral fee for connecting a successful candidate-one that is hired for the role and stays at least six months with a company. Creative tactics are being used as well with “the founder of a mobile game company…[offered] “‘personally pay one bitcoin’-worth $44,500 at the time-for a referral that resulted in a hire.”

What type of firm has an edge in attracting talent now?

Early in 2020 candidates were more likely to vie for roles in larger companies-those with more than 500 employees including much larger firms like Apple and Google etc.-but the tide may be changing. Candidates are increasingly “prioritizing flexibility and remote working benefits” as surveys show as well “that tech workers are experiencing high levels of burnout and, and that 48 percent were interested in changing companies-up from 32 percent the same time last year.”

According to Hunter Walk (VC fund Homebrew) “‘What I’m seeing is that more candidates are thinking about a mission they want to be a part of, or the culture of the company they work at, and that’s a larger factor in the decision making.”

“Those who disagree with the company's culture have more freedom than ever to vote with their feet.”