What exactly does the ‘right candidate’ look like?  In this article, I will attempt to highlight some of the influencing factors that hiring managers are likely to consider when trying to determine your value as a potential employee.


You may have noticed on LinkedIn or any of the main job boards that the majority of talent acquisition specialists often use terms such as ‘paying up to $xxx, xxx + superannuation, to the right candidate’.

Often, we are recruiting for several different roles at a time, from mid-level through to senior, each with the same client. The salary that is offered to an interviewee upon a successful interview process is dependent upon a myriad of different factors.

Let's take a look at some of these factors!
 

Tenure
 

This is a big one when it comes to our clients. Everyone in the world of tech knows that people move around. Not only, sometimes things happen outside of our control, for instance, mass lay-offs and toxic work cultures to name just a few. However, generally speaking, our clients will always have a preference for candidates that are willing to stick around. After all, they are looking to build a strong team and make a return on their investment. This can’t be done if someone is going to jump ship on them as soon as a recruiter offers them a role with a pay rise.

The same also applies to contracts to an extent. I know, contracts are usually designed to be on a mutually agreed short-term basis. Still, that doesn’t stop the flag from being raised (more often than not). Employers may want to know why contracts weren’t extended. Why didn’t it work out? Most of the time there’s a genuine reason such as projects coming to an end, or a preference for being exposed to many different projects.

However, frequent doses of very short-term contracts are still likely to raise concerns with some hiring managers. Whether this is a good or bad thing is a topic for debate, and I don’t necessarily agree with it myself.
Whilst constantly jumping around for the next highest bidder might have beneficial short-term gains, rest assured that it will eventually catch up with them in the long term, especially when it comes to applying for positions with the big players.

From my experience, and after having had in-depth conversations on this topic with several of our clients, a year is a sweet spot and minimum viable tenure for sticking with a company without raising an element of suspicion. With that being said, life does happen, and you should never stick around in an environment that you don’t feel safe in just to tick boxes on your employability criteria.


Previous companies
 

Unfortunately, not all jobs are made equal when it comes to evaluating the worth of a potential employee. The tech world is a small place, and often a revolving door. Reputable, agile companies with a strong engineering culture often have more rigorous recruitment processes. Generally speaking, if you have worked in some of the top-tier companies, you have already proven your competence somewhat, and the odds are you have been taught best practice engineering principles.

An engineer might come from the likes of Google or Amazon, and still has the potential to be a terrible hire. The same applies to someone coming from a small unknown start-up and being a phenomenally talented engineer. It’s a hedged bet.
But what about those huge brands I worked on as a consultant? Surely having been exposed to several top-tier clients has to be worth something? Well, yes and no. Some of the world’s biggest consultancies have access to many household names. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are working on exciting projects, or are certified guns. It most certainly can mean that, but it isn’t a given.

How difficult was the hiring process for the consultancy you worked for? What is the calibre of engineers that they generally employ? How heavily involved in the top-tier projects are these consultants? Does the company have a reputation for its engineering culture? There are most certainly some incredible consultancies out there with well-deserved reputations. I’m lucky enough to work with several of them. However, this is still something that will be considered by prospective employers when evaluating the worth of a potential employee.

Tip: If you are chasing the big bucks, make sure you have the clout to back it. Have your projects on hand, your GitHub with all your relevant experience, as well as any other demonstrable evidence that proves you are worth your weight in gold and sets you apart from the rest of the talent force looking for a significant pay rise. It sounds obvious but, in my experience, it is rarely followed.


Technologies
 

Fundamentals matter, right? You have a decade of experience in software engineering, yet admittedly it’s not in the technologies being used by the roles you are applying for. I agree.

Some employers are absolute tech agnostics, and happy to spend time investing in the right engineer. These people are the salt of the earth. However, others are not so open-minded. An employer is far less likely to take a gamble on a candidate that doesn’t already know the technologies their team is working with.
Especially at the senior level. Even more so when the candidate is asking for the top end of the budget. It’s often difficult to justify, and potentially unfair to the other team members that are already highly proficient in the required tech stack being paid the same or even less.

If you’re a seasoned .NET engineer that is accustomed to earning $1300 / daily, however, fancy a transition into a strictly Golang career without much commercial experience, it’s unlikely you’ll be inundated with offers at the same pay grade until you establish your competence. I’m not saying that it has never happened, just be realistic with your expectations.


Concluding thoughts
 

Ultimately, we are each the CEO of our own life and career. We decide our worth, and people have to respect that. I certainly do. This post was mainly intended on trying to bring to light some of the factors that come into play when considering the salary expectations of those in the job market.

Absolutely go for gold, and never allow anyone to buy you for less than you are worth. Hopefully, some insights can be taken away, and you can factor in these decisions when attempting to build your dream career.
There are obviously many other forces at play that determine the salary you are offered by prospective employers.

Yes, the market has been incredibly hot, wages are at an all-time high, and you should be capitalizing on that. However, be aware that things are changing and we are noticing a downturn. With great salaries comes great responsibilities. If you’re looking to take a shot, make sure that you can score. Otherwise, when the market settles down, you’ll be the first one out the door.

Happy job hunting, folks.

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