Developer Ambitions Report (Europe)

35% of developers want to work in a company with a good cause. What else do developers want from their career? Read on to find out.

Ines Almeida

Inês Almeida


Hannah Augur

Two years ago, we ran a survey to find out what makes developers happy. This year, we wanted to go one step further and find out what really drives them. What ambitions do they have for their career, their skills and their community? We got 1000+ responses from developers across Europe and had a lot of fun learning from the wide array of responses and comments. Hopefully this report will bring the community closer together (and help employers understand how to keep you developers happy)!

In this report, you'll find the topics grouped into four sections: Career, Personal Growth, Office & Geography, and Community.

YES, you can get a pdf version to share! Find our full Developer Ambitions Report here.

Developer ambitions highlights europe

1. Career Ambitions

Developer Role Ambitions

26% of developers aim to be an individual contributor in a company.

While 15% of male developers reported wanting to be founders, only 3% of female developers reported ‘founder’ to be their ideal role. Interestingly, 14% of current engineering leads and 26% of engineers with 9+ years of experience reported that they would like to be individual contributors. This is in line with the several write-in answers we received from developers who report not having an interest in transitioning to management despite their years of experience.

Developer ideal roles europe
developer ideal role by gender europe

'Management is not a promotion, management is a change of profession. And you will be bad at it for a long time after you start doing it. If you don’t think you’re bad at it, you aren’t doing your job.

Managing because it feeds your ego is a terrific way to be sure that your engineers get to report to someone miserable and resentful, someone who should really be writing or finding something else that brings them joy

It isn’t a promotion, so you don’t have any status to give up. Do it as long as it makes you happy, and the people around you happy. Then stop. Go back to building things. Wait til you get that itch again.'

Charity Majors, cofounder and CTO of Honeycomb on the The Engineer/Manager Pendulum

Company Size Preferences

The #1 choice for developers is to work for a startup.

A whopping 88% of developers have a company size preference. Though there are several reasons to choose a specific size of company, two details stand out: 29% of those who want to work for a startup do so because they seek less bureaucracy; and 35% of those who want to work for an enterprise company do so because they seek more security.

developer ideal company size europe

Industry of Employment Preferences

Only 15% of respondents reported having no preference about which industry they work in.

According to some, working for FAANG is the crowning achievement for a developer. They pay more, have more prestige and generally make your parents say ‘ooh, aah’. However, we found that only 7% of our respondents report wanting to work for FAANG.

  • 7% want to work for FAANG.

  • 52% of women developers want to work for a company with a good cause.

  • 32% of men developers want to work for a company with a good cause.

developer industry europe

Criteria for Next Job

44% of developers say work-life balance is their most important criteria when considering a role.

After work-life balance, developers across the board agreed that team/culture, remote options and salary were the next most important factors.

developer job criteria europe

'Job Hopping' Preferences

Nearly 50% of developers don’t have a preference as to how often they switch jobs.

Most developers reported not really having an opinion on whether they should or shouldn’t job hop. In fact, 26% prefer to stay with the same company while 24% would prefer to job hop.

However, 28% of developers who did not report they would prefer to job hop still intend to change jobs within the next year. This could indicate that, while developers aren’t actively thinking of ‘job hopping’ as a strategy, something is compelling them to move on to greener pastures at this moment in time.

developer job hopping europe
TOP: Developers' preference for job hopping in Europe. BOTTOM: Time with current employer (Y axis) compared to expected future at company (X axis) to visualize the reality of job hopping in the near future.

2. Personal Growth Ambitions

Drivers and Motivation

26% of developers are driven by the desire for personal satisfaction and pride.

Developers reported that a variety of factors and ambitions are driving their career. However, it’s clear that networking and status are the least important overall.

Developer career drivers europe

Side Project Ambitions

33% of developers want to work on side projects that solve real world problems.

Only 5% of developers reported not wanting to work on any side projects. Whether it’s having fun or solving problems, it’s clear that developers are generally driven to use their skills outside of working hours.

developer side projedts europe

Growth Methods

Developers are most likely to hone their skills through self-study and regular work. Despite the prevalence of bootcamps and self-taught developers, 8% of respondents reported an interest in completing a university degree. Sometimes you can’t go wrong with old-fashioned college education!

developer skill development europe

Soft Skill Growth and Ambitions

61% of developers would like to work on their negotiation & conflict resolution skills.

It seems developers are not only interested in becoming better negotiators and public speakers but also at better managing their time. While this interest in time management decreases for developers as they gain experience in the field, it does appear to be a clear point of interest for developers across the board.

Developer soft skills europe

Mentoring and Coaching

50% of developers report wanting to mentor others.

On top of this, 51% report being interested in having a mentor within their organisation. This isn’t so surprising given the complex nature of the work. Developers must regularly learn new things and creating a reliable community and sharing culture within organisations would likely help developers do their jobs better.

developer mentors europe

‘Mentoring is a process. It’s not a toolbox that you open up… You start by talking about something that you have in common and then go deeper.

As a mentor, I’m going to try to open the door. At the end of the discussion I‘m going to try to leave the discussion open so that person has something to think about and something to come back with. I want this person to come back to me and talk again.

You have to start getting comfortable talking to people—about whatever suits you. Just pick something you like and see where that leads you.’

Tim Bourguignon, Serial Mentor & Podcast Host @DevJourneyFM

Dealing with Burnout

67% of developers report that vacation is a key defense against burnout.

While it’s not surprising that vacation and talking to a manager are good defenses against burnout, developers also reported a desire to employ meditation and mindfulness. In fact, 40% of developers with 9+ years of experience reported that they would like to use meditation and mindfulness to mitigate burnout. Interestingly, developers also reported being more likely to quit their job than speak to a therapist or other professional.

Developer burnout europe

‘When I worked in construction, after I went home, I didn’t start building in my free time. I just enjoyed my free time. I didn’t have to worry about not being able to get a job if I don’t learn 10,000 things in an afternoon… but I have a bad relationship with tech, because I feel the need to always learn stuff and create.’

Catalin Pit, Developer & Technical Writer @catalinmpit 

3. Office and Geography Ambitions

Most Desired Locations in Europe

  • Top City: Berlin

  • Top Country: Germany

Even when we removed respondents who are currently living in Western Europe from the data, Germany still came out as the most desired European country to live in. However, we must note that many of our respondents were also users of the Honeypot platform—a job platform specifically for DACH and the Netherlands. This could mean that respondents were more likely to have an interest in these countries than other developers.

developer ideal location europe

Office Wants and Expectations

45% of developers want to work fully remote.

Remote work has been all the rage the past couple of years. Even today you can’t stand up without hitting your head on an article about how it’s changing the world. However, it seems reality is slightly more nuanced as 70% of developers still reported a desire to live in the same country as their employer. Only 30% reported preferring to be in a different country from their employer entirely.

developer work setup europe
developer office hybrid europe

Social Wants at Work

The vast majority of respondents reported a desire for social interactions at the office but no particular need to turn workmates into best friends. 

developer office friendships europe

Politics at the Workplace

When it comes to employers having a stance on political topics, most developers fell somewhere in the middle. However, it seems that nearly half of developers believe their employers should have a clear position on major topics

Developer politics europe

In particular, Northern Europe proved to be the most political and Eastern Europe the least. 20% of developers located in Northern Europe report wanting employers to go the full nine-yards in terms of politics. On the other hand, 50% of those in Eastern Europe preferred an office with no political topics at all.

developer locations europe

4. Community Ambitions

Biggest Problems to Solve

#1 Problem: Bad Project Managers

There’s no doubt about it. Developers really, really dislike bad project managers. Apparently we shouldn’t have even asked. We are so sorry.

developer community problems europe

Ambitions for Popular Topics

For our final question, we wanted to ask something kind of complicated. We asked developers what they would like to see more focus on in the developer community, and they were allowed to only select three options.

Overwhelmingly, respondents voted for work-life balance and mental health. While gender equality had a number of votes (23%), POC and LGBTQ+ inclusion had far fewer (6%). Some write-ins also include the issue of ageism, neurodivergent inclusion, and fewer working hours.

developer community focus europe

Thanks for reading our report! Be sure to check out the pdf version and sign up to be notified about our next one.

Looking to find new roles that match your ambitions? Honeypot is Europe's job platform for developers and data specialists. Sign up today and get offers with salary and tech stack up front.

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