Developer hiring and the market for lemons

You need an information asymmetry to create a market for lemons … both current and prospective employers have incomplete information, and whose information is better varies widely. It’s actually quite common for prospective employers to have better information than current employers!

Another problem with the idea that “great” developers are sticky is that this assumes that companies are capable of creating groups that developers want to work for on demand. This is usually not the case.

The result of this dynamic is that, as a dev, if you join a random team, you’re overwhelmingly likely to join a team that has a lot of churn. Additionally, if you know of a good team, it’s likely to be full.

Another problem with the idea that “great” developers are impossible to find because they join companies and then stick is that developers (and companies) aren’t immutable.

Is developer hiring a market for lemons? Well, it depends on what you mean by that. Both developers and hiring managers have incomplete information. It’s not obvious if having a market for lemons in one direction makes the other direction better or worse. The fact that joining a new team is uncertain makes developers less likely to leave existing teams, which makes it harder to hire developers. But the fact that developers often join teams which they dislike makes it easier to hire developers. What’s the net effect of that? I have no idea.

Source: Developer hiring and the market for lemons