Are you experiencing tech worker wage pressure? - Technical.ly

Company Culture

May 24, 2021 7:02 am

Are you experiencing tech worker wage pressure?

Hiring tech talent is getting more competitive amid the rise of remote work. Here's some early insight on a new challenge, from Technical.ly’s latest Culture Builder newsletter.
Hiring moves at Super Meetup Philly 2019.

Hiring moves at Super Meetup Philly 2019.

(Technical.ly file photo)

Written by Technically Media CEO Chris Wink, Technical.ly’s new Culture Builder newsletter features tips on growing powerful teams and dynamic workplaces. Below is the latest edition we published. Sign up here to get the next one this Friday.


One CEO who just put a Series A in the bank last fall confided in me that he’s already stressing the budget. Revenue isn’t the problem; it’s his salary projections, he told me.

He was paying high-performing product managers at his fast-growing company based in Pennsylvania in the range of $60,000 to $80,000 just last year. He has seen offers top six figures in recent weeks. One founder in the expensive DC region told me: “Same story, just increase it by 50%.”

For much of the last 20 years, tech salaries have been among the fastest growing. Yet by 2019, the rate of growth in software engineer salaries appeared to finally be slowing. Widespread wage inflation does not appear to be happening so far, as we’ve reported. But I’m hearing newfound nerves about tech salaries, especially in the fastest-moving companies.

Are you experiencing big compensation changes at your organization? Email me at chris@technical.ly and tell me about it. I welcome anonymity — we can keep your org name out of it — as Technical.ly is working to report how this is shaking out.

What do we think is happening? In short: Many of the best-funded companies in the world expanded their remote hiring in the last year. Many hiring managers are welcoming San Francisco salaries into their lower-cost markets.

This appears to be primarily happening among growth-stage firms, some of whom do not yet have a well-known workplace culture. Many of us might accept a salary discount for intangibles like mission, culture and the like. Our expectations are different depending on whether we’re working at a 10-person agency or a 100-person, fast-growth startup trying to become a unicorn.

Without that differentiation, you’re only left with raw salary, bonus and equity. When you’re adding headcount during a period like this, you simultaneously put pressure on your existing salaries. What do you do about it? Rework your spreadsheets, for one, like that CEO is. It’s also a great reminder of the importance of investing in your existing team, and telling the story of your employer brand.

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Another founder at a growth-stage startup was recruiting a head of sales from a bigger tech company but couldn’t get anywhere close to her nearly $250,000 comp. Yet she took the role because she loved the company, the challenge, the team and the opportunity. Their story resonated with her. It can work for you, too.

And now the links.

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