Are software developers the football stars of the tech world?

Posted 18/6/2018 by Georgina Deas

Watching the World Cup? Of course you are. The World Cup kicked off in Russia this week and our office football fans couldn’t help but notice a striking similarity between footballers and software developers; their demand.

Are software developers the football stars of the tech world?

Super-rich football clubs, like Real Madrid, are able to offer players high salaries in order to secure the best talent for their team. Last year, Paris St-Germain paid over £200 million in transfer fees to secure Neymar and pay him over £25 million a year in wages, making him the world’s most expensive football player at the time. Similarly to this, large corporate companies have the funds to be able to offer a premium price for highly sought-after and increasingly scarce talent, like software developers.

The skills gap yet again takes centre stage as the reason for this increase in demand. Companies are faced with taking on talent which has been underinvested in and that requires training and development, just to be able to do their job. Instead, companies attempt to find a quick fix by filling their immediate vacancies with ready-made developers who can come in and immediately perform in their job. It seems in today’s market many businesses would rather recruit talent which has already been trained, rather than invest in the long term development of talent.

Problems arise when talent is pinched from other smaller companies, as it’s very often the largest corporate who can offer the highest salary that tends to win the battle for highly-skilled talent. These large corporates, that can offer large salaries and benefit packages to candidates, can easily afford to promote their company as the place to be for developing careers. Not only this but they have much bigger marketing budgets and are able to advertise their recruitment process and attract candidates – much like the football clubs that can afford to pull in all the best footballers.


Is biggest always best?

Does the largest business guarantee success and career satisfaction?

Is moving for money always going to be the be-all and end-all?

Does working for the biggest and most well-known company mean that your individual contributions and talents are going to be celebrated and recognised?

Once you’ve ‘signed’ for one of the big ‘clubs’, where do you go from there?

Developers have a choice. Developers who choose to join small start-up teams can benefit in the same way football players can by joining a smaller team. Whilst we can’t necessarily speak for professional footballers, we have found that, for many developers, it isn’t money which drives them to seek new challenges but the opportunity to continue to learn and develop their career. The chance to expand on their experience and the excitement of creating something new and wonderful with code is what really motivates them.

Companies compete for this talent by trying to offer the highest salary but it isn’t always going to be the ‘golden ball’ that keeps developers around for long. Something more needs to be offered and that’s where start-ups come into play.

The opportunity for growth, focussed training and development, the use of newest technologies and the chance to shine can be much greater in the smaller, agile and innovative start-ups. It is in start-ups that career progression can be achieved, learning opportunities are greater and your contributions can really make a difference.

In many of the larger firms we have noticed management struggle to reward and encourage their employees. If they have already paid them a very high salary to begin with, a pay rise is not always going to seem a very significant reward. Large corporations must offer other tangible benefits to entice developers and reinforce employee growth and development, in the same way that start-ups can.

Are you a developer in today’s competitive industry? How do you achieve a balance of finding the right team to play for?

Is it all about money? Or is training, career progression, the quality of project, or something else, the main draw?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on what matters most to you when you’re looking for a new role, or what would tempt you.


Enigma People Solutions is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in software, electronics, semiconductor, and photonics in Scotland. Check out our blog for the latest in the technology industry. You can get in touch with us or call us on 0141 332 4422.


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