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Forming a tech team in the Philippines

yowmamasita profile image Ben Adrian Sarmiento Updated on ・3 min read

Disclaimer: You might find this elitist, but there is no intent whatsoever to discriminate anyone of a specific background. This is solely based on my experience working with software/test engineers of different skill levels across 3 companies and spending the last 4 years doing recruitment, interviewing hundreds of developers.


In my opinion, the Philippine tech industry is catching up skill-level-wise, albeit slowly, to Singapore and Hong Kong tech hubs. The (majority of) push is not coming from the supply of tech talent though (the programmers) but more from the tech companies (usually from abroad) opening offices here and creating a demand for higher quality software engineers.

This is both good and bad news for you if you’re building a tech team here in the Philippines. Forming a team is easy and trivial, forming a good team is a different story.

Salary trend is up - way up

Higher quality means higher salary; it's very rare nowadays to get a really good engineer for a bargain rate. For the past 2 years, I felt that the job market rate has tremendously gone up for any tech-related position. This also means that Filipino tech employees are enjoying a higher quality of life.

Tech companies abroad are most probably coming to the Philippines because it is inexpensive vs other Asian tech hubs. Plus we're better English speakers, and the skill level gap is worth the savings. But I think not for long because if the tech salary trend continues, that cost advantage will disappear. On the other hand, if we are able to close out the skill level gap, the Philippine tech scene will continue to flourish.

Your recruitment budget will most likely define how fast you reach your recruitment goals. If you have more than enough budget, do not just give away money though.

Impostors

There's a chain effect from the positive salary trend that is being taken advantage of "impostors" - people who switch jobs after gaining enough "tool & process knowledge" and are able to get a higher salary just because of this. This type of knowledge won't get you far because this is very use case-specific - that new "experience" is now obsolete on the new job.

It’s a non-issue if the person possesses good fundamental tech skills as it will be just a question of when and that all depends on the person’s learning pace. When you form a team, you have to make sure an applicant’s skills isn’t reliant on the tools listed on his resume. Or when the applicant is left alone without a process or a framework, he/she should still be able to function and contribute value to the team.

Education

Our education system hasn't caught up YET. This I think is the most fundamental flaw of our tech talent source. At least for the developers I've worked with, especially those that are "below average", they had very little exposure on industry practices (common tech used, etc.), or they're very much used to the pace of learning antiquated tech from college. Even worse, both.

I am sure that this is already being addressed as I am writing this - kids are smarter nowadays anyway. But the ideal won't happen in an instant. There was/is/will be a period of time where we (will) produce(d) un-hireable graduates of tech courses. Add to that the tech industry is not for everyone. You need resilience as it is not uncommon for companies or projects to fail.

If your team somehow ends up with these types of developers, I think that teaming them up with good leaders who are able to set the bar high for the team is an effective solution.

Conclusion

Diversity in a team, even on the skill aspect, is always guaranteed to turn out good. Sometimes, non experience means thinking outside the box, which this industry needs more.

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