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Hiring Tips & Insights: Why your Next Developer Hire Should Be from South Africa
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Why your Next Developer Hire Should Be from South Africa

By Brett Jones

The tech hiring market has gone from hyperlocal to global and so should your hiring strategy. It’s now easier than ever to access the global talent pool and South Africa is a great place to start. Here’s why.

Why your Next Developer Hire Should Be from South Africa

It’s a tough tech hiring market

Funding for tech start-ups, scale-ups and unicorns reached record levels in 2021. Many tech companies were able to raise incredible amounts of money at likely overstated valuations. This influx of capital led to many tech companies scaling rapidly, putting pressure on the tech hiring market.

In addition, we saw the global phenomenon of a “great resignation”: Employees have been leaving their positions in unprecedented numbers to find roles at companies with better work-life balance, growth opportunities and company culture.

Together, these phenomena created the hottest hiring market in the history of tech in 2021.

In 2022, however, the tech boom is cooling down: As growth numbers in many companies are falling short of their initial promise, stock markets and private markets are beginning to settle back to more realistic levels. Many late stage growth scale ups that received huge funding rounds are slowing down and even freezing their hiring efforts or laying off staff.

Does that mean that hiring great software developers is finally becoming easy? Not quite.

While the tech hiring market has cooled down from its record highs, demand still vastly outstrips supply in local markets: Companies with a stable business model are still growing. Big Tech is not letting people go and many companies are not even slowing their hiring. In addition, there are more competitors for tech talent every year, because every company across every industry has increasingly more software needs.

There has undoubtedly been an increase in demand for talented developers. In fact, OfferZen data shows that there have been record levels of activity and hiring in 2022.

The shortage of tech talent isn’t the only challenge. Companies continue to look in the same places and same channels, despite how much the hiring landscape has changed.

Competition for talent has gone global and great talent is everywhere

What many tech companies aren’t taking into account is the fact that the tech hiring landscape has changed drastically over the past few years: Pre-Covid, it used to be hyperlocal, now it’s global.

Traditionally, companies only looked for talent in their own city, and were mainly competing for that talent with other local companies. Only Big Tech could take advantage of a global talent pool, and set up offices in tech hubs across the world. With the shift to remote-first, now tech companies of all sizes can tap into the global talent pool without even having to set up offices.

This has made the tech hiring landscape even more competitive, but it has also levelled the playing field and opened up opportunities for those willing to take them.

It’s now easier than ever to access the global talent pool. But where do you start looking?

As a talent marketplace originating from South Africa, operating across Europe and Africa, we see that there is an enormous amount of tech talent outside of the major tech hubs. South Africa, in particular, offers a large pool of highly skilled developers.

The advantages of hiring South African developers

Typical challenges European companies encounter when hiring developers outside of their country are things like working across time zones, language barriers, complicated employment laws and varying employment costs. For European companies, hiring remote developers based in South Africa addresses these challenges and offers additional advantages over and above:

Ease of remote work

In South Africa, the tech community is largely English speaking. Business is also conducted in English, which means that developers are easily able to assimilate in any company where English is used as the primary language of exchange.

What’s more, South Africa sits in the same time zone as most European countries. So synchronous remote work is easy to execute.

Availability of tech talent

There is a massive pool of talent in Africa. Google’s e-Conomy Africa 2020 report estimates that there are 716 000 developers on the continent. Of that number, roughly 121 000 call South Africa their home and many of them are actively looking for new opportunities:

World-class quality

South Africa’s developers are world-class. One example showcases this particularly well: AWS, one of Amazon’s most profitable businesses, launched in South Africa, by a South African developer: The South African Chris Pinkham founded Amazon’s software development centre in Cape Town. It would eventually become the birthplace of AWS cloud computing, after an independent team of engineers and developers Pinkham assembled successfully built the original elastic compute cloud, known as EC2.

South Africa’s Tech ecosystem is thriving: In 2021, 89 tech startups, including the likes of Yoco and LifeQ, raised over €286 million together.

South African developers also code in the most desirable languages: JavaScript, Python and TypeScript are widely used by frontend, backend and full stack developers. Plus, many are able to work across a variety of popular frameworks like Node.js, Angular and React.

Diversity

Another factor that plays into the quality of outputs created by South African developers is the diversity of the talent pool. Hiring diverse developers helps to avoid groupthink and, according to research from McKinsey, results in better performing teams and more profitable businesses.

Tech companies looking to benefit from a more diverse workforce have another strong reason to hire developers from South Africa. In addition to the racial diversity of the talent pool, tech companies can benefit from the experiences and perspectives that developers who have lived and worked on the African continent bring.

Affordability

Senior developers in Europe and the UK earn anything between €80,000 and €100,000 per year, whereas, in South Africa, the same quality talent earns between €50,000 to €70,000.

When setting up remote teams, you also need to factor in other costs. If you compare the additional costs of employment that companies have to pay, then South African talent looks even more appealing:

Using data from one of our partners, Omnipresent, shows that employment costs in South Africa are lower than in the Netherlands or the UK. Hiring a South African developer is one third of the cost of hiring a developer in the UK and one fifth of hiring a developer in the Netherlands.

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