Leveling Up Your Career? Managing Opportunities As A Software Engineer

Posted on July 27, 2021 by Bailey Crumpton. Tagged: Resources for Candidates, Hiring, For Candidates

If you haven’t seen Yes Man with Jim Carey, the movie leans on the hyperbole of what would happen if someone said yes to absolutely everything. The main character, Carl, is convinced that saying yes to every opportunity is the only way to make his life better, but as he learns later on, saying yes 100% of the time causes him more stress than actual happiness. As a software engineer in a rapid-fire market, there is an element of Yes Man in knowing how to handle the influx of choice and opportunity, and cut through the noise.

Successfully managing your options as a tech professional ultimately means finding opportunities that complement your personal growth plan and align with your values. With so much change in the hiring market in 2021, we wanted answers on how it has impacted candidates and their ability to be more selective.

What Caused The Shift Towards A Candidate’s Market?

Last year, hiring managers in the tech industry reported that they could not fill a staggering 60% of their open tech positions. The ongoing talent squeeze will continue to bring pain points for hiring managers and growing companies in hiring technical resources, not to mention the complications around remote and hybrid working models. All of this creates a perfect storm for technical candidates across the country to be in a position of choice.

More than ever, engineers and developers are flooded with offers of work, allowing them to pick and choose jobs that have the most of what they’re looking for. The pandemic is the first big reason we’ve seen more candidates advocate for themselves, as extended remote work called traditional work models into question. It follows that after a year or more of fully remote work, going back full time into an office space is not exactly what many high-value engineers had in mind. Once you get more free time or time with your family, swallowing your concerns about a daily commute and lack of flexibility feels like less of an option.

Other reasons range from generational and cultural shifts regarding work-life balance, to the services technologies that are in high-demand in a “post-pandemic” world, like cloud computing, mobile applications, digital medicine technology, and team collaboration tools. Companies are looking for talented people to launch these new ideas, and there’s no shortage of new ideas.

How To Distinguish Opportunities That Have What You Want And What You Need

As talent professionals, we have seen candidates become more vocal in the last year, explicitly stating what’s important to them in screenings and interviews. With a sharper focus on work-life balance and a “what can this opportunity do for me?” mindset, candidates are rightly asking for less business travel, flexible requirements on time spent working in-office, and lower commute times.

So, what is the best way to approach choice management in a high-volume job market? How do you weigh your options with a clear head and make the best decision? Candidly, candidates who are clear about their goals help recruiters ensure the roles they suggest are a good fit.

The single most important thing you can do when working with a recruiter or interviewing with potential companies is prioritize what you are looking for before you get too far into the interview process. Create a list that highlights the top 3 most important aspects that would make you consider leaving your current position, or that signify a better opportunity for you personally. This is the foundation of distinguishing which opportunities have alignment and which do not.

Alternatively, write out the best and worst aspects of previous jobs you’ve held, and use those points as a launching point for asking questions about the company, learning about their work culture, and reflecting on what environments allow you to do your best work. Think outside the box, as these aspects could range from having clear career development opportunities to working for a company with paid parental leave if you’re planning to have or expand your family in the future.

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What Else Should You Consider Beyond Salary?

Once you’ve prioritized what you’re looking for, consider this important note. While salary is a hugely important factor in taking the next step in your career, it’s only one part of compensation. Making more money is not the end-all be-all of having a new job. When weighing multiple opportunities and options, you should also consider:

Location: Will you have to go into the office or would you prefer a fully remote position? Is this role in a more desirable city you’ve always wanted to move to or are you looking for positions close to home to stay near family? Consider if you’re willing to tack on a few extra hours for a commute or if you are open to business travel for a role.

Equity: Rising in popularity, many senior positions at large tech companies are offering equity components to compensation that can equal or even exceed base salaries. While it’s not always clear how equity will impact you financially down the line, rising companies see this as an offer of partial ownership, or a way to get in on the ground floor of their growth.

Benefits: Especially as we reimagine office spaces and grapple with hybrid work, benefits can be more challenging to analyze during the interview process. Our priorities shift as we grow and age, and allowing yourself the time to think about what really matters to you now will help inform your decision if you’re faced with a multiple-offer situation. Do yourself a favor and do some research to better understand what it’s like to work somewhere, and what kind of employee benefits are offered.

Work Culture: Culture means a lot of different things to different people. Is a work culture that places a high value on inclusion and diverse contributors important to you? Does the ability to work from home supersede your desire to collaborate in person with others in your field? These questions can only be answered with some dedicated soul searching, but don’t forget, help is available if you need it. Asking your recruiter lingering or clarifying questions about an opportunity can help you manage when choices abound.

Tech Candidates Should Lean Into This Moment

Each year, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analyzes the projected growth across all occupations, and this year’s average projected growth rate hovered around 4%. However, when it comes to tech and the demand for software engineers and developers, that figure jumps to 22% growth by 2029! While it comes as no surprise, calling out this moment in the industry is an opportunity for tech professionals to explore, grow, and feel good about their ability to manage a range of opportunities. If you’ve been thinking about changing jobs, this is the right market and the right time.

Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!