Written by Maciej Szczerba Job Market | News

IT labour market in Poland after Covid- state as of May 2021

It is just over a year since the outbreak of the pandemic (14 months). In this post, I would like to share my observations over this time as far as the IT recruitment market is concerned. My observations refer to the Polish market, however, I think they are relevant to the IT job market in most Western countries.

If we compare the period from March 2020 to May 2021, we will see a rollercoaster.

Period one- March-May 2020 I remember like today. One of the main Polish influencers on YouTube announced: "the employee market in Poland is over". For the first time in ten years, programmers sent their CVs to recruiters on LinkedIn. Although I guess, remembering the crisis of 2009 - it wasn't so bad then...

I've spoken to many colleagues - internal recruiters from large organisations. Both from global, major IT outsourcers as well as software houses. There was a market collapse in April 2020. There were many programmers on the market who accepted offers up to 30% lower than their salaries before the Covid-related reduction. Companies, not only those working in or related to the industries most affected by Covid (airline management systems, hotels, beauty services) but actually the vast majority of companies (financial institutions, consumer electronics, video streaming) froze recruitment projects. The only industry that has not frozen recruitment was e-commerce and IT outsourcers.

The market stabilised thanks to large multinational outsourcers who bought laid off candidates even "on the bench" due to reduced salaries representing a market opportunity.

IT recruitment agencies suffered a 50% drop in orders between March and June 2020. In July and August, the situation began to recover. From my observations and conversations with friends who manage agencies, it can be said that on the 1st of September the market returned to its pre-pandemic state.

September and October were the moments of a huge increase in the demand for programmer competencies. And a radical increase in the expectations of candidates, which....the market began to meet to a much greater extent than could have been predicted. From the Covid year, I remember exactly a sentence from an article in one of the autumn editions of the Economist: 2020 has accelerated digitisation by 10 years. I agree with that sentence.

Companies quickly realised that "buying discounted candidates" was a rather poor idea. According to my interlocutors (let me remain anonymous ;)), there was an exodus of these people as soon as the labour market situation stabilised. The structural talent shortage on the IT market continues to make its presence felt.

Again, in November, there was a freeze again due to the third wave of Covid. Companies began to postpone recruitment projects. This benefited software houses, which had their five minutes in the period of uncertainty-November 2020-February 2021.

Since the end of February 2021, we have seen the biggest market boom we have seen in 13 years.

About 3 years ago we did a study on the increase in salaries of IT specialists in Poland. We spent several dozens of hours researching our ATS (Applicant Tracking System)...and we checked it out. For 6 years (2013-2019) IT salaries in Poland grew by about 7 to 8% per year.

We have not done such reliable research in the last 12 months. Nevertheless, we can clearly see the biggest increase in salaries in 15 years. In the Covid year, May 2020-May 2021 salaries of programmers in Poland increased by at least 15 %!  Such a large increase in one year has not been seen before.

What trends are visible?

Companies are very keen to recruit people with above-average skills. The concept of a senior developer after Covid has been redefined in my opinion. What matters is not so many years of experience as very high technical competence and maturity in solving problems.

Such above-average candidates can count on very high salaries - employers are much more flexible when it comes to upper salary brackets.

After more than a year of remote working, companies have realised that part of the team can work remotely. They are therefore open to people working in locations other than their head office.

The openness to remote working has also resulted in an equalisation of salaries between different cities. I am very curious to see if this trend will continue. However, it seems to me that once hybrid office work returns, employers will stiffen up in their salary ranges, given the differences in the cost of living in different locations.

The unification of the IT job market in the post-Covid era on a national/regional scale is a topic for a whole other interesting post.

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