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Digital product talent research

In short – blog post summary.

  • We used the full LinkedIn data set to examine professionals working in digital product design, development and management during Q4 2020.
  • 1m developers working on digital products on
  • Designers lag way behind with less than half that number.
  • Women unrepresented across all professions, insanely so in software development.
  • Emerging talent hub in Romania making great progress, Ireland doing well relative to London.
  • Talent churn is not a major issue in most locations, demand is high.


Each quarter we examine global talent trends affecting the digital product profession. We use the dataset. This is limited, but considering its global reach, size (720,000,000 members) and that we are comparing data points it is suitable for our purposes.

We looked at the three key functions that make up digital product teams – software development, design and product management. We selected using two filters – location and job title. There is a breakdown of the search terms we used at the end of this article. We looked at total numbers of professionals in each function, gender breakdown, number by location and the growth of each profession.

Global overview:





Breakdown of  developers, designers and managers by total number, function and gender. On the whole of LinkedIn there are close to one million software developers and engineers engaged in digital product work, close to half a million working in user experience and interaction design, and slightly less working in digital product management roles. 

Location analysis:

Let’s look at the numbers from an Irish centric perspective. To do this we compare Ireland, a well recognized digital product talent hub and where we are based, with long established centres, an emerging location and a city not known as a hub as a control location.

They are:

  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • London Metropolitan Area
  • Romania
  • Manchester
  • Ireland.

Some interesting trends emerged from this analysis. In the future we are going to include additional locations, like Amsterdam. If you have suggestions for what we should add in please send me a tweet @topdigitaljobs or email


Total professionals and location breakdown

Software development:

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We can see how dominant the Bay Area is when it comes to software development talent. Way out in front with more developers than all the other locations combined.


It is surprising to see how close Ireland is to London, when you consider we have a population of ~5m and the London Metropolitan Area has a population of ~14.5m. Also, I had long considered London to be a much larger and established hub for digital products.

Even more surprising is the emergence of Romania in this space. It has long been known that their strong education system with its focus on mathematics and science produced engineers and developers in good numbers. It is still surprising to see that they are neck and neck with Ireland given how much longer Ireland has been a digital product hub (Apple moved here over 40 years ago).  Many organisations are looking to tap into the Romanian talent pool and some very big players have already done so. An interesting trend to track.

Manchester as a location with a metropolitan population of ~2.7m is our control location, given it is not regarded as a well known digital product development hub.


UX Design:

No one location is coming out on top in terms of design numbers. There is a much more even spread across locations. Ireland – 2,148, London – 9,228, versus San Francisco – 16,436, versus Romania – 2,615, and Manchester – 904.

Product management:

Clear dominance in numbers from San Francisco. Interesting to note Romania is neck and neck with Ireland. London’s financial services industry could be responsible for their large numbers of product managers. 

Here we see the dominance of the Bay Area in stark relief versus the other locations. I think there are a couple of mitigating factors in this. The job title product manager as it is now known in relation to digital websites, apps and services is relatively new to us in Europe. Until recently over here a career in product management meant minding your margins and profit and loss ledger in a telco or bank. In the Bay Area the term has been synonymous with user centred digital products for decades. With product managers being hired from careers in software development, engineering, design and general management.

We can see that Dublin is far behind in this regard, although as we will see in the one year growth chart below Ireland and for that matter Romania are hiring more product managers in percentage terms than all other locations.


Gender comparison:


Average Male percentage in software is 82% versus 18% female, which is quite astonishing. Romania doing the best across the board in terms of gender equality, but the ratios are still heavily skewed mail across the board.



While the gender difference weighted towards males in software development is astonishingly high, there are also significant differences in design and product. There are few outliers across the locations. Save for Romania, where their product talent pool is quite evenly distributed amongst males and females.


One year growth: 



Steady, if not spectacular growth in all disciplines, given the impact of Covid 19 this likely represents a more positive trend than other functions.





Growth in software and product of 10% + in a year points to significant demand in both disciplines. The growth of 3 and 4% in design was unexpected. I had assumed it would have been higher. Although any growth in 2019/20 is impressive and a sign of healthy demand for a profession.

One trend is the growth of software developers in San Francisco is about half that of other locations. There are a couple of reasons I can speculate for this. In the Covid-19 time period we have seen an increase in remote working.  When you consider that the Bay Area pays developers more per year than anywhere else in the world, and the high cost of living in that area you can see why organisations are attracted to hiring in other locations and embracing remote working.  This was already happening before the pandemic, it is likely to have accelerated in recent months.


Number who changed jobs in the last year:




A churn rate of between 3 and 5% across the disciplines is not a concern. It may point to good retention and employer brand strategies for these hard to hire professions. One interesting note is the churn rate for software developers in London. At 17% this is very high and could be down to a number of different factors. I speculate that the nature of software development work in London is behind it. There is a culture of contracting in software development, especially in the financial sector. Huge amounts of contractors working on short to medium term programme lead engagements is de rigeur. One can also factor in Brexit and the movement of mid and back office functions to jurisdictions like Dublin, Frankfurt and others.



The digital product related functions have shown remarkable growth during a pandemic. Across the globe we have seen increases in hiring numbers and no sign of massive cuts in any location. Gender imbalance is high, almost ludicrously so in software development. Romania is emerging quickly as a hotbed for digital product talent, nipping at the heels of Ireland (long considered the bellwether for emerging digital hubs). Are there other locations or functions we should cover? Have more general feedback? Please get in touch – and @topdigitaljobs.

About Rattleberry – we are a digital product consultancy who provide flexible teams and contractors to our clients. If you wish to get in touch to discuss your digital product talent needs please email hello [at] rattleberry [dot] co (yes, it is .co).



Method used:

We surveyed the LinkedIn platform in Q4 2020 using their Insights tool. This gave us access to the full 760,000,000 registered users. We focused on professionals who worked in software development who also had skills aligned to digital product development. The same with design and product management. These additional filters are used to ensure the cohort we are analysing work in the digital product area and not an unrelated field. Full breakdown is below.

Product management report filters:

Skill includes:

Agile Methodologies/ Kanban/ Digital Transformation/ Scrum/ Agile Project Management/

DevOps/ Azure DevOps/ Server Azure DevOps/ Test Driven Development/ iOS/ Android/

Web Development/ Web Design/ Web Applications/ User Experience (UX)/ User Interface Design/

User Interface Prototyping/ Prototyping/ Rapid Prototyping/ Rapid Application Development (RAD)/

HTML5/ Mobile Applications/ Enterprise Software/ Continuous Improvement/ User Stories/

User Story Mapping/ User Story Development/ Hypothesis Testing.

Title includes:

Product Specialist/ Product Manager/ Head of Product/ Product Owner/

Product Management Specialist/ Director of Product Management/ Vice President Of Products/

Product Director/ Group Product Manager/ Product Marketing Manager/ Chief Product Officer/

Head Of Product Management/ Vice President Of Product Management/ Project Manager/ Scrum Master/ Digital Project Manager/ Senior Product Manager/ Product Designer/

Product Engineer/ Product Development/ Specialist Agile Coach.

Software development report filters:

Skill includes:

Agile Methodologies/ Agile Project Management/ Agile Testing/ Agile Application Development/

Scaled Agile Framework/ Agile Web Development/ DevOps/ Azure DevOps/ Azure DevOps Server/

Test Driven Development/ Scrum/ Kanban/ Digital Transformation

Title includes:

Software Engineer/ Senior Software Engineer/ Java Software Engineer/ Lead Software Engineer/

Software Engineering Manager/ Associate Software Engineer/ Web Developer/ Application Developer/

Android Developer/ Frontend Web Developer/ Developer/ Senior Developer/

Frontend Developer/ Full Stack Engineer/ Javascript Developer/ Engineering Manager/

iOS Developer

Design report filters:

Title includes:

User Experience Designer/ Product Designer/ Interaction Designer/ Experience Designer/

User Experience Researcher/ User Experience Design Specialist/ User Experience Manager/

Director Of User Experience/ Head Of User Experience/ Interface Specialist/

User Experience Consultant/ User Experience Architect/ User Experience Specialist/ Web Designer/

User Interface Designer/ User Experience Engineer