Web Programmers Pool fully Allocated

by Steven Douglas Olson

After 18 years of programming, I was considering a job switch. I know some who started their own businesses; anything from running a used car lot, to carpentry.

My job at GE in 2003 went the way of the dodo; it became extinct. Meanwhile the same job mysteriously appeared in one of the GE subsidiaries located in India. I don't blame India, it's part of our economic evolution. The key to survival is the lowest price... or is it?

Now it is different. I have my pick of jobs, we are looking for good developers and it is hard to find any. That is to say: the job market for programmers appears to be back.

I remember when I worked for GE, at one meeting the CTO was bragging how it was such a great market for talent and "we should buy low". Referring to salaries.

I don't know if he bought any loyalty. Buying low even when it seems like an economically sound theory, may cost more in the long run when your programmers, dissatisfied after a long bout of salary abuse, decide to leave.

That leaves the managers holding the bag. After all the hardest resource to replace is the one with the brains.

So next time the market is ripe for hiring developers at some fraction of their value, try looking at loyalty as part of the package. Pay them enough to keep them when the market inevitably rebounds.

4 Comments

aristotle
2005-07-28 14:31:33
Re:
See Joel Spolsky’s latest article (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/HighNotes.html) . And the one he started his site with (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000074.html) . And numerous others he wrote in the meantime.
jwenting
2005-07-28 23:08:07
buy low
If you are planning to offshore to India (or eastern Europe) anyway in a few years who cares if the person you hire now leaves a few years later?
It'll save you the trouble of firing him (with the associated cost).
steveolyo
2005-07-29 08:10:55
buy low
You make a valid point. Why even hire the programmer locally in the first place. If you are planning on offshore, use contractors and then migrate offshore.


If you are running a web based business that needs changes and support real-time, and your key people leave when the market turns up, then you risk losing business.

steveolyo
2005-07-29 08:10:56
buy low
You make a valid point. Why even hire the programmer locally in the first place. If you are planning on offshore, use contractors and then migrate offshore.


If you are running a web based business that needs changes and support real-time, and your key people leave when the market turns up, then you risk losing business.