The market has never been this good for IT professionals. They have enjoyed special treatment for years now, but current pay trends are staggering. How much longer can this growth continue?
BY BEATA SOCHA
In 2017, pay offered in job ads increased by 6.9 percent in the IT sector, according to data analyzed by No Fluff Jobs, a job portal dedicated specifically to the IT market. You could argue that pay offered in job ads does not necessarily reflect the actual salary an employee gets, but unlike in most listings, pay in IT jobs is actually negotiated upwards rather than the other way round. Warsaw has long been the pinnacle of pay scales in Poland, including the IT market. But regional cities, particularly Wrocław, Kraków and Gdańsk have caught up to the capital and now offer salaries on a par with Warsaw’s top employers. In Warsaw, IT salaries increased by a modest 6.7 percent last year, compared to 13.4 percent in Wrocław (in senior positions the growth amounted to 16.1 percent), 13.2 percent in Kraków and 12.8 percent in Gdańsk. In fact, in some positions, like Java developers, Kraków has already taken the lead with pay scales of PLN 12,700-PLN 17,700 against Warsaw’s PLN 11,400-PLN 16,200.
B2B OR EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT?
There are two main formats software engineers work on: regular employment contracts and as B2B service providers. Naturally, B2B agreements mandate slightly higher pay (an average of PLN 12,000) than regular employment (PLN 10,700). Interestingly, however, people employed on an employment contract but working from home earn more than people coming in to the office every day (an average of PLN 13,900 against PLN 10,500). The disparity could hardly be explained by the cost of overheads, especially since B2B contractors make more money if they work in the office of their business partner rather than at home (PLN 12,100 for office work vs. PLN 11,600 for home office). HR consultancy Hays Poland offers a slightly different analysis of contract work. According to its data, B2B contractors make as much as 20 percent more than their peers employed on employment contracts. No wonder the model has been gaining in popularity. A quarter of IT professionals have already undertaken a stint as a B2B contractor. The majority of companies (58 percent) looking for IT talent see B2B contractors as a beneficial alternative to employing IT personnel. “Employing IT specialists on contracts is a clear trend not only in Western Europe, but also in Poland. Talented programmers, testers and developers are increasingly open to contract work, seeing the benefits of this form that a regular job cannot offer them,” stressed Arkadiusz Wargin, head of IT contracting division at Hays Poland. “Companies also see the benefits, such as flexibility and quick access to competencies that contract work offers,” he added. People who work on B2B contracts are usually those with very narrow and niche specializations as well as the most popular technologies. They are usually showered with job and contract offers and B2B work allows them to cherry pick the projects they want to get involved in.
WHAT IS STABILITY?
To people in other industries, contract work usually means less stability. But in case of the IT market, stability is not an issue. If they bid farewell to one employer, it’s usually a matter of days before they are snapped up again. “One of my coworkers decided to quit overnight without any alternative job prospects in mind, and before the day was over, he was already employed elsewhere,” said an employee of a major Polish software company. In fact, loyalty clauses sweetened by upper-five-figure bonuses have become commonplace in the industry to retain key people. The need to create and maintain a network of coworkers has become a must in the business. Again, for somewhat different reasons than in other industries. For the majority of working professionals, former coworkers are potential leads for future employment prospects: “If I lose this job, they may be able to offer me something else, maybe even a better job.” IT professionals keep tabs on their former colleagues in case one of them decides to make a move, and then they get to be the ones to bring another talented engineer on board and get a sizable bonus for a recommendation (usually amounting to a monthly salary).
There are entire websites devoted to recruiters telling horror stories of their experiences when headhunting IT people. “They are rude, they swear and hang up, they call you stupid,” are the most common accounts. Programmers are equally dissatisfied with their recruiters, accusing them of wasting their time due to insufficient preparation and research. “My conversation with recruiters could be compared to: ‘Do you drive a car?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Over the past three years, how many times would you say you had to operate the gas pedal?’” wrote a Polish software engineer living in London in a forum discussion. Clever recruitment firms know that and train their personnel to understand IT people better and carry out recruitment more efficiently. They have entire divisions specializing in IT recruitment. The dissonance between what the market needs and what resources are available has created an unprecedented void that only keeps getting bigger. The only question that remains is: How long can this ride continue?
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