• user
  •  16.07.2021
  •  9 MIN

Our annual study of salaries in digital professions is anchored in the extension of an obviously historic year 2020 due to the pandemic that has shaken up the economy and the labor market.


As a recruitment firm specializing in the French digital sector, we are a privileged witness to the impact of the crisis on recruitment and would like to share a few observations as a preamble to reading our salary barometer.




* * *


The health crisis and the successive confinements have caused an explosion in e-Commerce (+ 50% in traffic), digital payments, gaming or medical teleconsultation to name a few. These are all sectors largely invested by innovative startups. As for teleworking, multiplied by 10 almost overnight, it forced organizations to adapt very quickly by using video-collaboration tools and using SaaS software adapted to work in confinement. Here again, it is essentially startups that create these applications and develop these tools.


At the same time, the French tech ecosystem posted 620 fundraising in 2020 for 5.4 billion euros raised: a record (+ 7% vs. 2019) which propels France to 2nd place in Europe, behind Great Britain. Brittany but ahead of Germany, for the first time. However, and we observe it on a daily basis at Urban Linker, fundraising systematically involves the creation of jobs, more than 90% of which are permanent.


As a result, Next40 and French Tech 120 (FT120) companies have created more than 10,000 net jobs in 2020 and at least as many are expected for startups and scaleups in the second promotion (2021) of these indices, unveiled in last February by the Secretary of State for Digital, Cédric O.


These figures illustrate our empirical observations: if our partners have suffered particularly in certain sectors (tourism, aero, events), and if the entire ecosystem naturally curled up in the weeks following the first confinement in March (stand- by recruiting time to have more visibility, reluctance of VCs and Boards of startups, focus on the organization of work and business), startups have finally continued to develop and recruit.


* * *


On the candidate side, there was also a reluctance to change companies, mainly due to two factors if we refer to our daily discussions with these candidates. On the one hand, a psychological brake created by the instability of the situation and a need for reinforced reassurance about the sustainability of their future employer. On the other hand, a desire not to "let go of their box" in a difficult moment. It seems to us today that the situation has returned to normal and that these two trends are much less clear-cut than in 2020.


A key success factor in competing for talent this year has been candidate experience. Organizing recruiting processes that are validating from a skills point of view, while reassuring candidates, and offering them the ability to project themselves into the company has been a fundamental issue while all recruitments have been carried out at distance. Also, the candidate experience, just like the development and retention of talent, have become HR issues at the same height as recruitment.


A review of history shows that crises create changes that last after they are over. From the point of view of the recruitment market in the Digital ecosystem, 2020 will have represented an obvious accelerator of the teleworking trend and the trend continues into 2021. The latter was imposed de facto from the first confinement in March and it is now integrated into the organization of almost all the startups we support.


Total teleworking, with completely decentralized companies, remains in the minority. Note, however, that a significant number of players have chosen to return their premises to work 100% remotely. The possibility of teleworking one to several days a week, on the other hand, has become a standard to which it seems difficult not to subscribe. Indeed, the vast majority of candidates we meet make it a selection criterion in choosing professional opportunities. We have nevertheless witnessed bad experiences for startups and candidates who have tried total teleworking: lack of social connection, working method not suited to all profiles, etc.


We are also talking more and more with candidates who ask to be able to telework a few days a week, but who absolutely want to be able to come to the office in person on certain days of the week.


Finally, we observe a growing desire on the part of candidates to join projects that are meaningful to them, often in the social-environmental fields. This trend has already existed in recent years, as a paradigm shift seems to be slowly permeating civil society and generations are renewing themselves, but it seems to us to have become more pronounced with the crisis. A sign that the digital ecosystem is also being modeled on these issues, impact investment funds are multiplying, such as 2050, Marie Ekeland's new project.


Shaken by a singular crisis, the French tech ecosystem has therefore shown resilience. Better still, it continues to mature and the challenge of recruiting talent has never been higher.

Based on our daily work and the recruitments we make, this salary study offers an empirical view of market trends and salary ranges observed for positions in startups and innovative SMEs.



Focus on the region

Urban Linker opened its first regional office at the end of 2015, driven by a market increasingly demanding support services for recruiting technical profiles.


Established in Lyon for more than 5 years now (and soon in Bordeaux), we are privileged witnesses of the evolutions that the tech market is experiencing in the region, both in terms of trends - due in particular to business demand and customer expectations. candidates - only at the level of expected and proposed compensation on the market.

Even if we also support mid-size companies and large groups, Urban Linker has historically been positioned in a market of very small businesses, SMEs and Startups. This is why the medians and trends we report are closely related to this type of business.


For the fourth year in a row, we are publishing our regional salary study, the aim of which is to provide an overview of an increasingly tense market. Over the years, we have refined our methodology in order to provide information that reflects as much as possible what we observe in the market.




The term “Region” used in this study refers to a group of cities in which we have a recruitment activity on behalf of our clients. We distinguish :

  • The main cities where our activity is the most important are: Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Toulouse, Montpellier, Aix-Marseille.
  • Secondary cities (where we can consider our activity as one-off): Rennes, Grenoble, Chambéry, Annecy, Pau, Saint-Etienne, Rouen, Caen, Strasbourg, Nice / Sophia Antipolis.


Pay levels may vary from city to city. In general, we have observed that wages tend to increase as the city's economic activity increases. This phenomenon is explained in particular by the market tension caused by a particularly high demand for profiles.


How to read the tables? In this study, we have chosen to focus on the cities where the demands for profiles are the strongest and where the data collected is relatively homogeneous. These are the main cities (Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Toulouse, Montpellier) which correspond to the “medium highs” of the market in the Region. For the so-called “secondary” cities, we observed that the level of remuneration can vary by up to approximately -8% compared to the data displayed.

Example: a PHP Developer with 4 years of experience would be paid on average 43.5K € gross annual in Lyon, against 40K € in Saint-Étienne.


We processed the collected data set taking into account standard deviations and outliers to focus on the medians of candidate salaries.

If they seem to us to illustrate the market in a coherent way, they are also purely indicative of the recruitments carried out and the exchanges with the candidates carried out by Urban Linker in 2020 and should not be used as a reference during salary negotiations.


Indeed, in addition to the criteria that we used for our study (type of position and level of experience), many other parameters come into play when it comes to defining a salary: sector of activity, type of company , funding phase, academic background, last remuneration received, etc. Remuneration is expressed in thousands of euros (k €) and corresponds to the annual gross with, where applicable, the variable part allocated for the position.


In this study we have:

  • An analysis of more than 600 profiles spread over the Tech sector in the Region
  • A remuneration grid by position and by years of experience
  • The jobs most requested by recruiters
  • Market trends from a recruitment point of view



Update 2021

In 2021, the French Tech Startups have already raised 4.7 billion euros (compared to 5.4 in 2020 as a whole, which was already a record year). This performance confirms investor confidence in the French digital sector, which has more than withstood the crisis.


Our salary studies are generally revealed to the public at the start of the year, based on the trends observed in year N-1. As this study was published in July (and not in February), we analyzed some notable developments since the first 6 months of 2021, in particular in connection with massive investments made in the startup ecosystem. You will find them in the boxes entitled “Update 2021” of the document.

Download the salaries study now

This site uses cookies and gives you control over what you want to activate.