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A recent report by jobs platform Hired shows that senior engineers are more likely to survive the recent spate of layoffs that are sweeping across the tech industry.

Junior engineers are more likely to be impacted by the recent spate of layoffs across the technology industry, according to a report released this week by jobs platform Hired.

“A lot of the layoffs that we’ve seen have actually impacted the more junior talent and talent from more non-traditional backgrounds,” Hired CEO Josh Brenner said, especially impacting engineers with less than six years experience.

On the flip side, more senior engineers are being retained, as companies batten down the hatches ahead of an expected economic downturn. “It’s a big shift,” Brenner said.

A shrinking skills pipeline

Hired’s data – which includes more than 494,000 interview requests on its platform and survey responses from over 1,300 software engineers – reflects the fact that there is a real danger of the developer skills pipeline shrinking, as hiring managers attempt to do more with less. 

Hired’s report reflects that shift of focus, with 72% of interview requests being made to candidates with at least six years of experience by the end of 2022, up from 64% at the beginning of the year.

That hasn’t dampened employee confidence however, with 68% of the engineers surveyed saying they are not concerned about losing their jobs.

What engineers want

Only 11% of engineers would consider adopting a more “hardcore” working pattern to ensure greater job security. Instead, greater compensation, or working on a project they cared deeply about, remained far more important motivating factors to employees when it came to putting in extra hours.

For managers pondering how to retain and attract workers in this market, more flexible conditions continue to top the list of requirements. Despite some high-profile announcements requiring a return to the office, remote work remains popular with engineers.

“The genie’s out of the bottle," Brenner said. For employees now accustomed to working remotely, a return to office mandate would result in 21% of survey respondents quitting immediately, while 49% would consider “quiet quitting” and stay on while hunting for alternative roles.

There are, however, key geographical differences to consider here. While Hired's data only covers the US, Canada, and the UK, interview requests in London and Toronto appeared to still prioritize local hiring. Over half of interview requests for London were for local roles rather than remote positions. In comparison, 78% of positions advertised in the Los Angeles area were for remote positions. “Europe seems to be, in general, more comfortable going back to the office,” Brenner said.

Alongside upping compensation and offering more flexible work schedules, the report also lists the most in-demand skills for engineering managers in 2023. Communication, leadership, and management skills naturally topped the list.

In terms of trending areas, it’s unsurprising to see AI and machine learning skills top the list, with 57% of survey respondents noting it as an area to watch. Natural Language Processing (NLP) engineers also received the highest salary offers on Hired’s platform, up 10% from 2021 levels and now averaging $179,000, as the generative AI boom continues to impact the industry.

All of these factors add up to a hiring landscape that will remain challenging for engineering managers tasked with attracting and retaining experienced staff. Overall engineering salaries may have plateaued after years of upward growth, but maintaining a culture of flexibility and transparency is becoming just as highly valued.