The term varies slightly across agencies, but the goal is the same: Find the Purple Squirrel! Our purple squirrel is a mid-senior level mobile engineer with 3+ years of experience. Across the country, we have dozens of roles open for Android & iOS Engineers — and not enough available candidates.
If you think about how we consume digital media, it’s no surprise that the use of smartphones and tablets has increased while desktop usage decreases. Social media is primarily driven through mobile -over 60% of which is dedicated to social media usage. Startups and established brands alike are scrambling to ensure that their mobile experiences will keep consumers coming back.
Why are mobile engineers in such high demand— and why aren’t there any readily available for some of the top companies in the mobile space? We spoke to Gabe Klein, the Front End and Open Source Technologies Manager in Chicago, to get his input about a market where demand is high and a supply of experienced mobile engineers is low.
What is your general feeling about mobile development roles?
Why is the market so geared towards mid-senior level candidates?
Gabe: Before diving into the market’s desire for senior-level candidates, we need to look at the types of development teams that companies have created internally. In Chicago, many of our clients have small mobile teams, so the ability to train and nurture a junior developer (talented or not) often doesn’t align with its immediate needs as a business.
Because of this, the market demands mid to senior-level candidates, even though, in my experience, junior developers are able to handle the work load. However, they may not have all of the boxes ticked when it comes to professional experience or the ability to hit the ground running without much direction.
From personal experience, larger, established companies have been willing to take on a more junior level engineer if they have more robust mobile teams.
Are good mobile developers few and far between?
Gabe: Not necessarily. There just happens to be significantly more jobs open than candidates who are either unemployed or looking to leave their current role. They have their choice when it comes to choosing an employer. Many companies offer perks that range from dog-friendly offices to flex schedules—everything to accommodate and retain good mobile engineers. The competition is steep and they know that they can (and should be!) picky.
And it isn’t just the cool work space, perks & salary that will interest a great mobile engineer. If all else is equal, app content and the ability to develop from scratch also tip the scale. When we sit down with engineers and ask them about their ideal role, they talk about working on a useful app, one that would provide value to themselves or their circle of friends & family.
How does a less experienced mobile engineer get experience when the market is so geared towards senior-level developers?
Gabe: Internships, projects, and continually honing technical skills. Someone who demonstrates their experience building an app from start to end is highly valuable. It shows follow through, professional experience (even if it is a personal project), and a final product. Don’t be afraid to use a recruiter for mobile engineer roles, even if your experience is more junior. When we have good relationships with our clients, they are often willing to meet junior candidates because we provide the initial screening.