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Hiring Tips & Insights: Not all seniors are equally affected by slowing salary growth — your tech stack matters too
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Not all seniors are equally affected by slowing salary growth — your tech stack matters too

13 February 2024, by Josh Nel

In this article, we look at how different tech stacks impact a senior developer’s salary growth in a changing tech hiring landscape and how this affects your salary conversations.

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Salary growth for developers is slowing across the board

When looking for a new role, a better salary is still developers’ number one reason for leaving. However, falling developer salary growth shows that they’ve lost the negotiating power they previously enjoyed and are less likely to get the types of increases they’re looking for.

Our data shows that salary growth for developers has slowed across the board, with juniors hit the hardest:

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Seniors haven’t escaped cooling salary growth, which means that experience doesn’t guarantee more money in the current tech hiring climate.

Recently in our ZATech channel, there was a discussion on whether it is better to keep desired roles broad, like Full Stack developer, or be more tech-stack specific, like React developer.

While experience is only one factor that determines a developer’s salary, their tech stack and role are important factors too. This made us ask: How does tech stack impact a senior developer’s salary growth in the current slowdown?

Not all skill sets are equally affected by the slowdown

If we take a closer look at how salaries for seniors working with different languages have changed, it’s clear that not everyone’s been impacted by the cooldown equally:

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Senior PHP developers have dropped by 2.79%, making them the worst impacted group. At the other end of the spectrum, Ruby developers have experienced double-digit salary growth. This is almost double what was seen by senior JavaScript developers who saw the second highest average salary growth.

Niche skillsets still come at a premium

So why would senior Ruby developers have more power to negotiate higher increases than Java, PHP or even Go developers? The most likely explanation is the supply of and demand for a given skill set.

Let’s compare the supply and demand for each language and role using data from OfferZen’s platform over the last 12 months:

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Skillsets like JavaScript are in the highest demand and also have the largest supply of developers with that skill. On the other hand, skills like Ruby have the lowest demand numbers and also the smallest supply pool.

But, if we look at the number of developers with a certain skill relative to the number of open roles for that skill, a different picture emerges:

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In the graph above, we can see that for every opening for a PHP developer, there are 7.3 developers with that skill. For every one Ruby position, there are only 4.2 developers.

That means it’s significantly harder to find a Ruby developer than it is to find a PHP or TypeScript developer. And this only increases in difficulty if you’re looking for senior developers who are experienced with that skill.

As a result of being harder to find, senior Ruby developers have more negotiating power to secure larger increases. That becomes clearer if we compare salary growth for senior developers with the average demand for their language:

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Adjust your approach to salary conversations based on the skill you’re hiring for

So what does this mean for your hiring team? If you’re hiring for niche skills, you’ll need to budget for larger increases as more competition exists for developers with Ruby experience. At the same time, you may need to prepare for potentially awkward conversations with developers who have seen their salary growth decrease.

Further reading:

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