Are senior developers in this part of the world spoiled by the luxury dictated by the lack of competition on the market?
The market is growing unstoppably and requires manpower, but in order for an industry to progress consistently, expertise is needed - in our case, the seniority of the IT profile.
This brings us to the current situation where there is too much money and too little knowledge.
Where have all the senior developers gone?
If we are honest, they were hired by large enterprise companies the moment they set foot on South Eastern Europe soil. There are two more options, one is abroad and the other is freelancing.
However, the harsh truth is that today it is almost impossible to find an experienced IT person.
To be even more honest - the only way to hire a senior programmer is to hand him over to another company.
Some startups are giving up company shares in order to retain seniors - and what about companies whose business model doesn't allow stock options?
One of the options is pouring money, and the other option is to focus on flexibility in work and phenomenal benefits - but is that a solution?
The gap deepens even more with unicorn ads from companies and seniors who are able to choose because they are currently employed by another company.
However, this does not mean that these conditions are always realistic - nor that companies have clear requirements in their ads.
Before we start an avalanche on both sides - let's try to detect all the problems that led to two parallel markets.
What does seniority mean in IT companies?
There is no single definition of what exactly is meant by the terms: junior, intermediate, and senior programmer. IT is a very young industry in general, and for this reason, there are no certificates or a clear code of ethics.
The truth that both parties are aware of is that when someone presents himself as a senior developer - very often he is not.
This conclusion sounds arrogant and may not be the best assertive approach to the problem - but it is not far from the truth. The problem that arose due to the rapid growth of the industry, the unrealistic ratio of supply and demand is now turning into a Frankenstein that uncontrollably divides the two already warring parties.
IT companies arbitrarily assigned titles - creating an artificial hierarchy where developers with the most seniority were a priori defined as seniors. When you think about it, titles are ego boosters, so it's clear why this logic has easily become reality.
IT companies need to clearly define who they really need - developers on the other hand need to be honest about their current professional opportunities.
Whether it's senior or mid-level doesn't really matter as long as the project is done right and on time.
What do senior developers expect from employers?
Whether IT companies want to admit it or not - the selection process is a two-way street. Although the company knows what it wants to achieve in the near future, it is very important to be aware of the expectations of the other party.
The reason why senior developers change their current positions is not entirely clear, but it is very often boredom stemming from a desire for advancement or a feeling of being overqualified.
An open question for debate: How to attract a person who has a choice, a set of requirements, and very likely different expectations compared to the employer?
Okay, let's look at the whole issue again.
Senior developers are very likely not interested in money (they have been in the IT industry for a long time and have money), and they do not care about joint gatherings or the fancy walls in the office or chillout zone. In most cases, they opt for motivating positions, projects that are intellectually challenging, participation in decisions or a better work-life balance. This is where we come to another problem. Some companies, simply because of the nature of the work, are stuck on boring and repetitive projects.
The first question for a senior candidate should be: What do you expect from the company and the position you are applying for?
In this way, a large part of candidates is certainly lost - but this also shortens the selection process according to the most important condition - the matching of the expectations.
The paradox of the advertisement and the selection process
The standard HR procedure in the IT industry is very often inadequate and many believe that it deals with irrelevant requirements - therefore, many quality candidates do not pass this stage because they do not meet some banal requirements.
Completed university and years of experience are not a measure of knowledge when selecting experienced IT experts - setting such a condition is absolutely pointless.
In Western Balkans, many senior programmers are self-taught - but that comes with one big advantage, they are in the IT industry because they have a passion for their work, and money is just one of the benefits.
We are witnessing dozens of ads for senior developers, ferociously demanding superhumans who can do everything, now and immediately. With 20+ programming languages in the palm of their hands, many years of experience, and the desire to solve every problem. The IT community has a lot of resistance to these kinds of ads and they are mocking them in social media groups.
This is only one of the reasons for the existence of two parallel markets. In one, employers blindly follow procedures - and in the other, IT candidates set conditions.
Alternative ways to find seniors
All of the above puts the HR team in a very difficult position. Although aware of the problem, one of the biggest obstacles is the fact that the transformation of HR procedures in large IT companies is almost impossible.
For this reason, it is necessary to define the ways in which it can be influenced while keeping in mind that you are competing with thousands of other IT companies at any time.
In order to improve performance, in addition to Facebook, LinkedIn and Google ads, support is also needed in the form of external channels such as the Joberty platform, which brings together a large IT community and provides them with additional information about employers, employee experiences and a large number of active IT job ads.
Another option is towards internal methods like Employer Branding.
Employer Branding is a very good way to make a company attractive to candidates. In other words, the company should be built as a desirable place to work from the developer's point of view.
Developing Employer Branding in combination with external support from the IT community platforms is one of the ways to find quality IT profiles in the region.
When we put all of the above together, it should be clearer to employers why they cannot close a senior position for months.
Open communication is imperative - not only at a job interview but also on employer review platforms where employees and candidates can leave their impression and contribute to the transparency of the IT industry.
It remains for employers to consider whether they are advertising in the right place and whether their company gives the impression of a desirable place to work.
Then let's talk openly - about everything and everywhere. That's a pretty decent start.