Your most productive and brilliant engineers will make decisions that will impact the success of thr company in the long term - the fact that these employers would only pay 20% over market for exceptional talent is surprising to me.
I worked for a company you’ve heard of. I was hired, worked there for years, and eventually ended up rewriting one of the core internal tools of the company, an optimizing compiler for an internal language targeting our custom hardware. If this tool stopped working they very literally did not have a product to sell. The original compiler (written before I got there and unmaintained for years) was never updated to work on the new hardware, so mine was all there was.
About five years into my tenure, we got a new CEO. He left 11 months later having done nothing but destroy our manufacturing chain by moving it to China (we went from very reliable hardware to a 30% failure rate overnight).
For his performance, he walked away with a multi-million dollar bonus.
I tendered my resignation shortly thereafter. I was offered one year’s salary as a rentention bonus, to be awarded after staying on an additional two years, with the option to have the bonus cancelled for nebulously-defined reasons at the company’s discretion. I ended up leaving (though I’m a nice guy and fully documented my work before I did).
It amazes me that someone can come in, sevrely damage a company’s reptutation, cost them millions in warranty work and missed contract deadlines, and walk away less than a year later pocketing millions.
(In retrospect, I should’ve stayed. The startup I went to help found folded almost immediately and several of my former co-workers ended up getting decent retention bonuses….though still paltry compared to their contributions.)
I’d hoped for more discussion of “salary requirements that were too high.” For all the talk of a talent shortage, there is a sure fire way to attract great candidates: pay them more.
So that would solve the talent shortage. For the highest bidder.
The rest will keep complaining. Instead of starting to cultivate talent.
This is not really about CompSci.