Key insights from 2021

Over 92% of techies want to see the salary disclosed in a job advert.
Women on average value themselves at £6,000 less than their male counterparts
For companies with 10,000+ employees, 80% don’t disclose salary information
Aside from salary and location, opportunities to upskill and progress (73.9%) is the number one factor that techies look for when it comes to a new role 
The top 4 technologies in demand by employers are JavaScript, AWS, React and Python

Our community managers chat to developers everyday listening to their experiences and discovering what makes them tick. Haystack’s unique approach allows us to facilitate more open, honest conversations with our users - who actually want to speak to us.

Salaries in tech

Salaries are always a hot topic. Britons have a culture of not talking about money - but this is something that is changing. 

Our own data uncovered the average salary per region in the UK and unsurprisingly, London takes top spot as the highest average salary for a software engineer coming in at £45,624. Other data revealed that in 2020, salaries for top engineering roles increased by 6% in London and are on a trajectory to continue to grow. 

Another hot topic and common bugbear is companies disclosing ‘competitive’ salaries in job adverts. Over 92% of our community of techies want to see the salary disclosed in a job advert - and why wouldn’t they? There is no point applying for a role that doesn’t meet your criteria. 61.3% of our users also say the number one biggest frustration when it comes to job descriptions is a lack of salary information. 

On the whole the larger the company the less likely they are to disclose salary information, and instead list salaries as ‘competitive’ on job adverts. For companies with 10,000+ employees, 80% don’t disclose salary information, compared to 67.1% of companies with 0-25 employees. The most likely to disclose salary information is companies with 251-500 employees, but it is still high at 62.5% not disclosing salary information. Globally, only 12% of companies disclose salary information.

Andy Thompson, People Manager at Bede Gaming provided a counter argument to this saying:

“The counter argument to this is.....we have gone into a recruitment process previously thinking we wanted an 'experienced' engineer, but because we didn't put a salary range in the job advert a relatively junior person applied. We ended up hiring them because they were awesome. They wouldn't have applied if we had the salary range advertised. Is publishing the range therefore too restrictive?”

Salaries and gender

There are also disparities in salary expectations when it comes to an individual's gender. Our data revealed that women on average value themselves at £6,000 less than their male counterparts. There are varying disparities by region, but surprisingly women in the West Midlands actually value themselves higher than their male counterparts, expecting a minimum salary of £37,200 compared to £36,738 expected from men.

Expected vs actual salaries

During the onboarding process for users, we ask techies what their minimum expected salary is. Splitting the data and analysing it by each role, we compared the average minimum salary that users would accept compared to the average advertised salary (if there is one) on the same roles. Surprisingly, despite how in demand techies are, they are placing their minimum salaries below the average salary offered by companies. This is good news for companies looking to hire developers, as it shows there is a good balance in the market for expected vs actual salaries given.

This however, doesn’t take into account the split between seniority and expected salaries. Roughly 30.5% of Haystack’s userbase place their experience as junior, and with 22% of roles hiring for juniors, this could sway the data heavily to bring the minimum expected salary down.

Increasing demand

With demand only increasing, there is a constraint on the market with a limited number of developers out there. 

Research from Adzuna, calculates that tech and IT-related job vacancies now make up one in 10 of all open job vacancies in the UK, which is their highest level since 2016. With demand for tech jobs 42% higher in June 2021 than at the same time in 2019, this is only predicted to grow as demand continues to outweigh the supply.

Tech recruitment is a lucrative industry with between 10-20% of the candidates salary expected in fees for a successful placement. With the average salary at £37,982, if you were looking to grow your engineering team by just 4 people - this could result in a hefty bill of around £20,000.

Growth in technologies

There has been major growth in languages like Python, with Java being the top language used by engineers as well as the most sought after skill by employers.

On the Haystack app, the top 4 technologies in demand by employers are JavaScript, AWS, React and Python. Compared to Haystack’s community of over 10,000 techies, whose most common technologies are JavaScript, Python, HTML5 and CSS-3.

Comparing the average salaries split by tech, the highest salary is for those skilled in Docker (£58,000), and the lowest average salary is CSS-3 at (£43,970). So, how many graduates and juniors have these skills? Our data reveals that only 9.6% of graduates and 12% of junior developers possess Docker as a skill, compared to 67% of graduates and 67.4% of juniors state CSS-3 as a tech. 

Rob Simmons, Chief Technology Officer at Haystack said:

“Skills like HTML and CSS are expected to yield lower salaries, as these are technologies that you generally will start to learn as soon as you start coding. It’s the more niche technologies like Docker that’ll yield higher salary demands as skilled developers are much harder to come by.

Growth in Personal Development

The average tenure for a software engineer at a small company is just 1.5 years, compared to large companies the average tenure is 2.3 years. The average for other industries is 4.2 years - so why are developers so eager to move?

Developers are constantly learning, and problem-solving - it’s a key part of their role. We asked our community, if they could exclude location and salary, what top three things do they look for in a new role?

  1. Opportunities to upskill and progress (73.9%)
  2. Positive working culture (70.3%)
  3. Flexible working environment (68.5%)

If companies don’t provide enough opportunities for growth and development, this could be a key reason why techies are open to moving. Positive working culture is subjective, and what works for one individual might not suit another. Haystack recently shared a list of Top 100 Culture Champions for those working in tech - learn how they’re putting culture first.

Looking forward in the recruitment industry

The rise of personal branding

For talent acquisition specialists, if you aren’t sharing company posts on your LinkedIn and shouting about the employer brand and the great things the company is doing, you’re missing a trick. Create excitement, and personality and you’ll be much more approachable to people you’re speaking to.

For techies, building a personal brand is another tool to harness when it comes to being hired. This is particularly important for those graduates and junior developers where competition is tough for those roles.

As an example, some inspirational software developers that have built themselves a network and personal brand are individuals like Elle Townsend, and Pauline Narvas who both have their own blogs and are very active on social media. Alongside their jobs, they are also active within the tech community - mentoring and supporting other developers, and inspiring others by sharing their journey.

James Hayward-Browne, Marketing Manager at Rise at Seven said:

“Personal branding is huge right now. There's no other way to say it. Your personal brand is, effectively, your social CV - and we know first hand how powerful this can be. As an employer, we receive hundreds of CVs every single month, and it is often hard to cypher through them to pick out the best talent. Imagine, though, the power of your employer already knowing your name and what you're about, all thanks to your unique online presence. We employ a number of graduates who have done just this. 
In particular, one employee of Rise at Seven, Nathan Bickerton, has spent a lot of time building his strong personal brand, and even won an internship with ex Social Chain founder Steven Bartlett prior to his employment at Rise - and it's all down to his brand-building. If there was one piece of advice I would give to graduates wanting to stand out, it would be to network and build a personal brand. It's guaranteed to set you apart from the crowd.”

Focus on employer branding

Just as individuals are focusing on their own personal brands, companies are stepping up and creating their own employer brands.

A strong employer brand can attract more talent and reduce the cost of hiring - as companies don’t need to rely on external recruiters and sources for talent and it’s a tool to harness and build their own employer brands. 

So what can companies do to build their employer brand?

  • Ask for feedback from your employees - the good, the bad and the ugly, so you can learn from it
  • Review the careers page on your website. They are often non-existent, or dry. Get quotes from employees, pictures, shout about the perks and benefits
  • Create employee focused content. Introduce your employees and share their stories and humanise your company (they are your ambassadors!)
  • In your engineering team, share information in job descriptions about the team, the structure, the tech stack and engineering practices you use
Take a look in more detail at a whole ultimate guide to evolving your employer brand.


When looking to 2022, and companies’ recruitment goals, diversity should be high on the agenda. Strategies should align to ensure these goals are reached. Working in talent acquisition means you’re likely to hire off of talent, not diversity. Therefore more strategies should be put in place in order to help diversify talent pools.

Software engineering is typically a male dominated industry, and more needs to be done to encourage women into tech. Organisations like Code First Girls, GirlDreamer and Girl Code all work to encourage and support women into the industry. Leading the way are companies like Monzo, who are going above and beyond a short sentence or two about diversity at the bottom of a job advert, and actually publicising their internal metrics on DE&I and the processes they’re taking internally.

So what strategies can companies use to reach DE&I goals?

  1. Hiring remotely can increase your likelihood of meeting your diversity and inclusion goals, but without a strong employer brand, you may still struggle to attract top talent
  2. Share your job advert wider than your usual placements (i.e. LinkedIn..), you’re more likely to attract a wider pool of applicants
  3. Shout about diversity! Make it a key pillar in your employer branding
  4. Get your name out there. Attending industry events, or even running your own, sponsoring placements on courses, university career fairs

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