Recruiting Engineers for Tech Startups

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As any hiring manager or recruiter knows, mid-level engineers with highly specialized skillsets tend to have their pick of jobs. Some of those engineers want to work for giant companies—either because of the brand, or because those firms can offer solid salaries and benefits (and a good work-life balance, sometimes). But some also gravitate toward startups, hooked on the potential for big rewards if the company ends up going public.

If you’re a hiring manager or recruiter who focuses on smaller firms, it pays to know how much engineers are typically paid to join startups. And according to a new survey of 700 startup founders by investment firm First Round, it’s quite a bit: some 55 percent of startups reported paying mid-level engineers anywhere between $101,000 and $150,000 per year in salary and bonuses; another 7 percent made between $151,000 and $200,000.

Moreover, mid-level engineers at startups tend to receive some level of equity: around 26 percent of startup leaders reported giving out between 0.21 percent and 0.40 percent equity in their firms, while 10 percent gave more than 1.01 percent. While that might not sound like a lot, even a fraction of a percentage can translate into millions of dollars if the startup strikes it big—a remote but tantalizing possibility for employees at startups. (Over at Recode, by the way, there’s an interesting piece about the things a company needs in place before it launches an IPO, including proper governance and predictability.)

Of course, the very term “engineer” encompasses a variety of disciplines, from networking to QA. Earlier this year, an analysis of Dice data broke down the median, mean, and max salaries for various engineering disciplines. Virtually all pay well, which is unsurprising when you consider engineers’ key role in designing, building, and maintaining the core parts of any tech business.

In tech hubs such as Silicon Valley and New York City, experienced engineers with the right mix of skills in “hot” areas such as cloud can expect to be paid a premium. With the tech industry’s unemployment rate well below the national average, employers in high-demand cities are paying out more in salaries and bonuses to ensure they keep top talent—and given the current turnover rate, it’s clear that tech pros unhappy with their jobs are leaving to pursue better opportunities.

That impulse to migrate can make things more challenging for hiring managers and recruiters—but can also create opportunities, as tech pros look for something better. The trick is to offer the right mix of salary and perks that will draw in top talent.

Image Credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com

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