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How Did Early-Stage Startups Hire Remote Developers During the Global Pandemic?

Remote startup tech job trends in April–December 2020: analytics, insights, conclusions.

The grounds of the report

After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and strict lockdowns in most of the countries of the world, companies have been plunged into uncertainty. No executive could predict how the global lockdown will affect their business.

There also came a necessity to switch to work from home. According to the Early Look at the U.S. Data, in April-May 2020 half of the employees of American companies started working from home, while 10% were furloughed. 

The tech industry has lost more than 40,000 jobs. Among the companies that downsized their staff were Groupon (2,800 employees), Airbnb (1,900), Uber (6,700), and many other tech giants. Other companies, like Google, made a statement about hiring freeze.

However, not all tech companies were affected by COVID-19 equally. Amazon, for instance, was hiring 175,000 workers to deal with a drastically increased number of orders and an overloaded system since the beginning of the lockdown. 

Such rapid unforeseen changes hitting the tech job market turned it into an interesting subject for observation. 

The goal of the report

This report is prepared by us, YouTeam — a marketplace for hiring remote software developers, backed by Y Combinator. We directly connect startup founders with talented engineers at outsourcing companies in Eastern Europe and Latin America, and help to source and hire talented coders in a matter of days.

Due to the nature of our business, we regularly monitor remote tech job markets. Starting from April 2020, YouTeam has been monitoring the impact of the pandemic and lockdowns on how early-stage startups hire remotely.

Since it is the end of 2020, we decided to share our overview of the global hiring trends in the software development industry as well as some of our observations.

What kind of data did YouTeam use?

The research is based on job postings published on four popular remote job boards — Angel.co, Remotive, Remote.co, and We Work Remotely.

YouTeam works with many early-stage startups. Since it is quite a sensitive market, we have been monitoring job postings made by companies employing up to 50 people, with HQ located in the USA, Canada, Western and Northern Europe.

Jobs posted by the same company on different job boards or jobs republished on the same job board were not taken into account more than once. Jobs that are not related to software development also have not been accounted for.

So, finally, let’s dive in.

How early-stage startups were hiring remote developers during the pandemic

While many companies had to lay off their employees to survive, the crisis usually has the nature of a driver for businesses to get stronger. As many of today’s tech giants such as Dropbox, Uber, or Airbnb firmed up in the financial crisis of 2008, we can expect the appearance of new game-changers that built solutions the modern new world is begging for. 

National Venture Capital Association reported about $34.2 billion raised by US startups in the first quarter of 2020. In Q2 and Q3 this number is $34.3 billion and $37.8 billion respectively. These numbers are not very different from the previous year. That means that there’s a big segment of companies that do not depend (or at least less dependent) on the market conditions caused by the pandemic and can keep hiring. Presumably, they will hire remote employees because of global lockdown.

New remote tech jobs open in startaps

We started following remote tech job market trends starting from April 2020. And in April, there were 149 remote job positions on all four job sites that met the criteria of the research. Then, in May, this number had a tremendous increase of 261% and hit 389. Seems like many companies waited to embrace the new future, and finally decided to start hiring remotely, ending the hiring freeze.

In June, the number of remote engineering jobs was still high and close to May’s record. In July, though, this number dramatically decreased almost twice compared to previous months. Presumably, this change was partially influenced not by the pandemic but by the start of summer vacations. 

From August to October 2020, the number of remote developers job postings remained almost at the same level. But in November, we observed growth by more than 25% — despite the Thanksgiving-related long weekend.

Remote software development job trends on Angel.co, the biggest startup job marketplace

Let’s take a closer look at Angel.co, the world’s best known online startup community operating the most popular job board. We’ll compare the amount of remote software development job postings there with the total number from all four job boards.

Dynamics of new tech jobs postings on remote job boards

The total number of remote job openings on Angel.co had an immense growth of 475% between April and May! It seems like it took early-stage startups about two months to get used to the pandemic circumstances and lockdowns and start looking for solutions. This is when many companies officially started hiring remotely.

Just like on 3 other job boards, on Angel.co this number started to fall in June, with an almost 50% drop from July to August.

Since the remote startup development job posting dynamics on Angel.co matched the dynamics we discovered on the other 4 remote job boards altogether, we think this could be considered as a general remote tech job market trend.

The Seniority of Developers Hired by Startups Remotely During the Pandemic

Remote development jobs split by seniority requirements

From what we observed, most of the early-stage startups were looking to hire senior developers.

For example, in May 2020, 45% of companies were looking for highly experienced coders. At the same time, the same month, only 1.8% of junior and 0.77% middle developer jobs were published.

As you may remember from the previous section, in summer the number of companies looking for developers noticeably decreased. The same occurred to the percentage of senior developer jobs at early-stage startups. Perhaps, some companies already hired folks for senior positions, and now started adding more subordinate positions to them on the team, making the percentage of other than senior jobs bigger.

Why so many senior development positions for remote work in startups, anyway?

We think that most early-stage startups find remote work quite convenient in cases when you work with experienced developers. And on the contrary, it might be a little bit more challenging to teach junior developers remotely, so there was no rush with opening non-senior positions. Or perhaps the work that requires less expertise is split between less experienced members of the team, while you would definitely need a superstar developer for more demanding tasks.

To sum up, it seems like when you are a senior developer with over 5 years of experience, your potential of finding a job is quite good, whether the world is hit by the global pandemic or not.

What Programming Languages & Technologies Were in Demand During the Pandemic?

YouTeam analyzed the top technologies requirements posted on all 4 job boards. We figured it would be easy to define the Top 5 of the most demanded technologies. And indeed it was. The most requested technologies during the pandemic were JavaScript (18.47%), React (14.28%), Python (11.65%), Node.js (7.6%), and Ruby on Rails (7.55%). 59.55% of all job posts made by early-stage startups required these technologies as the main skill.Top requested development technologies in 2020

What technologies made it to the Top 10? Technologies that took positions 6-10 in the popularity chart on average accounted 2-5% of the overall pool of job postings. Those were PHP (3.98%), Java (3.22%), IOS (3.12%), Go (2.68%), Django (2.34%), and React Native (2.19%). The statistics are based on jobs posted on all four job boards.

Demand on development stack in 2020

Among other often requested technologies were React Native, Vue.js, C#, and Android. In total count, companies were searching for specialists experienced in almost 70 different technologies. And from our observations, among the least searched were Backbone.js, Bootstrap, Elm, Erlang, Express.js, NativeScript, Solidity, Symfony, and TensorFlow — only one search per each.

Top-demanding programming languages and frameworks in 2020

Technology vs Skills — What Are Startups Looking for Most When Hiring Remote Developers?

The data above shows the demand for different programming languages and frameworks. But we found a huge number of job posts that were listing skills rather than technologies. For instance, many startups were searching for e-commerce developers, cloud engineers, and QAs. 

Top-demanding development skills in 2020

Moreover, there were many job postings created to find a full-stack developer without any specific details. On the chart below you can see the ratio of particular stack jobs and particular skills jobs.

Tech stack vs particular skills in open jobs in 2020

Conclusions

It’s time to wrap up. We hope our research can help all job seekers to define which technologies and skills are in high demand popular during the coronavirus pandemic.

We still don’t know what the post-COVID world will look like because the pandemic is not over yet, and new lockdowns keep happening. But there is a big growth in the number of remote job opportunities, especially in those for senior-level specialists.

Early-stage startups must know that even on the remote job market they will be competing for senior specialists.

The top 5 technologies in demand during the pandemic of 2020 were JavaScript, React, Python, Node.js, and Ruby on Rails. We think that these skills will keep the top charts in the next year as well.

When it is hard to compete for the senior talent, perhaps you should consider hiring developers offshore. We at YouTeam can help you with that. Learn more about our company here.

Written by
YouTeam Editorial Team

We love featuring verified solutions to outsourcing problems and coverage of remote work trends. We want our blog to be a source of inspiration for tech entrepreneurs and product people who are looking to build distributed development teams across continents.

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