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Post by Rich Moy on Oct 4, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Until recently, the average software developer salary was a bit of a mystery. Everyone knew that tech talent was in high demand, but there wasn’t much of a consensus on what you should pay them. But today, developers and recruiters alike can easily find the information they need to make better decisions. This is an exciting development—unless your research shows that you can’t afford to pay today’s average salaries.

This begs the question: if your salaries are slightly lower than average, is it still possible to hire great developers? The answer isn’t a straightforward yes. But the good news is that there are other ways to attract top tech talent. This post will walk you through a few things you can do when you can’t afford to pay market value salaries for developers.

Rethink The Additional Benefits You Offer

It’s important to remember that developers don’t make career decisions based solely on money.  Sure, the best programmers expect to be paid fairly, but take another look at this chart from the 2017 Developer Hiring Landscape. You’ll see that compensation and benefits offered came in second on our respondents’ list of most important job evaluation criteria.


*On a 0-4 scale, where 0 indicates ‘Not at all important’ and 4 indicates ‘Very important.’

Now, don’t take this as permission to make low-ball job offers to your candidates. But if your company doesn’t have the budget to match current salary trends dollar-for-dollar, meet with your engineering manager to discuss the other ways that you can make your opportunity more appealing. What types of unique professional development opportunities can you offer? If a developer in another location is comfortable with your range, can your team support a fully-remote worker? How can you build in more time for developers to work on their side projects?

When in Doubt, Be Honest With Developers

If your average software developer salary is slightly below market value, what would your first thought be? You’d probably want to do everything in your power to hide that information from your candidates. But the truth is that transparency is beneficial for employers on the high and low end of the pay scale.

In a recent study, our engineering team found that job listings that include salary information got 60-75% more clicks than those that didn’t, regardless of the dollar amount advertised. They also discovered that this wasn’t a novelty. Companies that are open about what they can offer developers (and why) have nothing to hide behind.

Not sure how to communicate that your salaries are slightly below average? Use this formula to start the conversation: “X is our current salary range. We also offer [insert two or three additional benefits]. Our current financial standing is [insert your funding status, revenue from last year, or any other information you’re comfortable sharing].” Leave plenty of room for developers to ask follow-up questions. When they do, be as honest as possible when you respond.

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