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Top engineers in no hurry to accept every job offer

Even as layoff concerns spread throughout the Indian startup scene and investment halted, individuals with high-end IT skills continue to look for opportunities, with placement firms still struggling with a low offer acceptance rate. 

According to placement consultants, the average offer acceptance rate in skills such as full-stack engineers, data engineers, frontend engineers, SRE/DevOps, data scientists, and backend engineers is just over 50%, with one out of two candidates trashing the offer letter.

Take full-stack developers, for example, who design high software applications. According to data from specialist staffing firm Xpheno, these professionals’ average offer acceptance rate was 73% in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, decreased to 53% in FY22, and is now around 50%. 

The trend can be seen in profiles like SRE/DevOps, data scientists, frontend engineers, data scientists, and backend engineers, where the offer acceptance percentage has dropped from 80% to 50%.

“The sustained positive hiring action from other cohorts of the tech sector continues to maintain a situation with more offers chasing lesser top talent,” said Anil Ethanur, cofounder of Xpheno. “The offer acceptance rates have not reached pre-pandemic levels and there’s quite a distance to cover to catch up,” he said.

“In top-level tech skills, candidates are still calling the shots. Out of every 100 offers rolled out, about 60 accept; of this only 35 join the new job,” said Anshuman Das, CEO of CareerNet and Longhouse Consulting. One of the main reasons for the high drop-out for these specialized technology roles is the fungibility of their skills. These people are in high demand across global captives, IT services, products, ITeS and consulting companies, job market experts said. “The demand-supply gulf remains high enough to give talent the upper hand on negotiations. This is evident with the low offer acceptance rates recorded across top skills for the key hiring sectors,” said Ethanur.

The startup funding freeze did not affect the packages available to these individuals. According to Xpheno data, new hires for these tech professions often command more than 100% of their present salary packages. With the expansion of job opportunities in these areas, candidates’ expectations have also risen. For example, a full-stack engineer with 4-7 years of experience might expect a pay rise of 70-120% from current levels, which is greater than the 25-35% expected by candidates last year. The same can be applied to other specialized tech positions.

Even as the number of available positions in firms decreases and companies reduce counteroffers, job market experts predict that demand for specialized tech skills will stay high despite a supply shortage.

“It will become more about skill-based hiring and less about roles. Specialised technology professionals will continue to remain in high demand,” said Renee McGowan, president of Asia, Middle East, and Africa region at Mercer.

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