Engineer 2020 Report deep dive:
What Mexican engineers want from their next role

There is a one million job deficit in the American tech sector, and the U.S. has fallen short of filling the high demand for these jobs. More and more tech companies are turning to Mexico to fill the gap. And, it’s no wonder: Mexico is home to over 200,000 highly skilled developers and software engineers, and that number is growing steadily. Mexican STEM and ICT graduates have increased an average of 7% annually since 2014, with more than 320,000 fresh graduates every year.

This makes for a less competitive talent pool than U.S. hubs, where it takes an average of 51 days to fill vacancies and software engineering roles have a 21.7% turnover. In fact, hiring and retaining talent is 62% more likely in Mexico than it is in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mexico has almost three times as many job candidates per open role when compared to the United States.

But competition for Mexican engineers is increasing, and it’s essential to understand how to appeal to this growing candidate pool. To get a better snapshot of the landscape, Terminal surveyed engineers from Canada and Mexico for our Engineer 2020 report. The survey aimed to understand priorities, motivations and market outlook for engineering talent within each country. Armed with data from our report, companies looking to scale their engineering teams can understand how to tailor their recruiting and meet the needs of Mexican engineers. Here’s what we learned:

Mexican engineers are frustrated by the interview process.

As competition for Mexican candidates heats up, long interview processes risk high candidate turnover. Of all engineers surveyed, 9 in 10 reported frustrations with the interview process. Mexican engineers were significantly more likely than Canadian engineers to experience too many rounds of interviews (71% vs. 54%) and long delays (48% vs. 38%). These frustrations can ultimately hurt a company’s recruiting success – 36% of all engineers said that experiencing too many rounds of interviewing would turn them off from a job.

How to take action: Regionalize your interview process

Mexican candidates do not routinely maintain clean, detailed resumes; instead, take-home exams are the most prevalent and well-received methods of judging talent. Keep in mind that multiple live coding assessments are less widely used and could draw out your interview process, contributing to lost candidates. As you interview, consider also the non-technical skillsets you may want to search for in remote candidates – our sourcing team offers a list of skillsets to vet for and questions to ask here.

Interviewing in Mexico: What to know

  • Candidates do not routinely maintain clean, detailed resumes
  • Take home exams are prevalent and well-received; multiple live coding assessments are less common
  • With Mexico becoming an increasingly competitve market, longer interview processes risk higher candidate turnover
  • It’s common for candidates to receive a pay raise up to 20% with a new offer
  • Candidates do not find equity compensation compelling; cash and benefits are much more meaningful

Stability and education are among Mexican engineers’ top job priorities.

61% of Mexican engineers say that stability is one of the top five most important things they look for in a new position, but education comes close, with 58% of engineers ranking learning & development programs in their top five. Engineers are also looking for mentorship from peers and leaders – but where they prefer to get that mentorship varies. 39% of Mexicans feel a big tech company provides better opportunity for mentorship while 24% think a rising start-up provides better opportunity.

How to take action: Outline your company’s long-term strategy and build a strong educational program for both HQ and remote teams.

Candidates need to know your company has viability – share with them your product roadmap, your runway, and your overall business strategy. Transparency goes a long way in building trust with a candidate. And, be sure to build and maintain both L&D and mentorship programs for all engineers, and make it easy for remote workers in Mexico to benefit from it. Invite candidates to speak with employees who are currently using educational benefits. You might even consider bringing in a partner that specializes in building engineering infrastructure. Remote work experts in the region can help you streamline programs and ensure that your engineers are getting what they need.

Mexican engineers care more about salary and benefits than equity.

80% say that pay and 60% say that benefits are top priorities when looking for a new job. Only 9% say shares and only 17% say exciting work are critical to hiring decisions. Compare that to tech workers globally, 46% of whom would consider a lower salary in exchange for higher equity. But 75% of Latin American startups fail after two years, and while signs indicate that will change in the near future, candidates do not currently find equity compensation compelling.

How to take action: Emphasize salary and benefits over equity.

Because Mexican candidates find cash and benefits more meaningful than equity, you’ll have to approach your offer packages accordingly. That could mean adjusting the ratio of salary to shares, or framing your offers to make sure that Mexican candidates know the full breadth of their benefits. In Mexico, it’s also common for candidates to get a 20% pay raise with a job offer, so expect to deliver an increase in salary over their prior role.

Mexican engineers value co-working spaces and community.

70% of Mexican engineers we surveyed say they prefer a co-working space to a traditional office, with 63% favoring an open office layout without cubicles. The desire to feel part of a community goes beyond bonding with their local co-workers -- they want to be able to easily connect with their foreign counterparts too, with 81% of Mexicans expressing a desire to work in a similar time zone when working with companies across borders. But time and space to concentrate is still critical, with more than half (53%) preferring a quiet working environment over an energetic one.

How to take action: Provide a sense of community balanced by a productive workspace

Using a co-working space might be challenging during COVID-19, but you can still make it easy for your Mexican colleagues to connect. Schedule digital happy hours and daily stand-ups to help engineers improve relationships, both with each other and with their foreign counterparts. You might also consider connecting employees 1:1 to help build friendship. Those personal connections are more important now than ever before: 46% of professionals around the world believe having work friends enhances their overall happiness and productivity.

Mexican engineers want task-tracking tools.

An overwhelming majority (73%) favor Jira (or other task-tracking tools) as a method of productive collaboration. But not every task can be handled exclusively with a JIRA ticket. When it comes to communicating and collaborating about work, 49% prefer in-person conversations. Far fewer prefer audio-calls (22%) or texting (18%).

How to take action: Organize your teams by location and implement workflow tools

You can use the preference for in-person collaboration to your advantage by assembling an entire team in Mexico to collaborate on specific projects. Then, implement a task-tracking tool company-wide to increase visibility and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Work with a reliable pool of tech talent.

Mexico has become the most promising tech scene in Latin America, and American companies looking for a reliable pool of top-notch talent should expand their searches south of the border. With a few adjustments to your recruiting and working processes, you could find yourself welcoming a slew of experienced, innovative engineers to your team.

Want to get more insights about engineering perspectives? See our Engineer 2020 report.

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