Lead Software Engineers Ref. 2920

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Technology Roles
Central Manchester, Greater Manchester
£56,944 - £62,477 dependent on skills and experience (package includes basic salary and a skills payment), you’ll also receive an additional one-off recruitment bonus of £5,000.

There’s an opportunity to qualify for increased skills payments in the future, of up to £18,720 in the role, following successful assessment.

Flexible Working: Full-time and part-time opportunities (flexible working hours available) based in Central Manchester/Greater Manchester or Cheltenham with a mix of office and remote working based on business needs.

About Us

We’re GCHQ, and we unlock the complex world of communications to keep the UK and its citizens safe, both in the real world and online.  Working closely with our British Intelligence partners in MI5 and MI6, we protect the UK from threats including serious organised crime, terrorism, and cyber-attacks.  A role in GCHQ means you’ll have varied and fascinating work in a supportive and encouraging environment that puts the emphasis on teamwork.

Your work is at the core of our operations. Put simply, your contributions will directly or indirectly help our ongoing mission to keep the UK safe. You’ll be empowered to work autonomously to achieve the desired outcome, while growing your skills in the process. We offer a strong work-life balance, benefits, training and certifications and hybrid working options ­ depending on the business area and needs. Our culture is centered on embracing a growth mindset, equality, and encouraging teams and leaders to bring their best each day. 

About the role

As a Lead Software Engineer, you won’t just lead an Agile team – you’ll help to shape our ways of working. With your fluency in a range of software engineering methods, languages and frameworks, you’ll influence tech adoption and direction beyond just your local team. Working with technical and non-technical customers, you’ll contribute to large-scale projects to deploy into different environments including on-prem and Cloud. Plus, you’ll lead planning sessions that’ll shape our working processes, and oversee mentoring and pair programming with junior team members.

You’ll have a lot of freedom. Working closely with colleagues we’ll trust you to decide the best way to get things done and how best to meet the needs of the mission. Above all there is a strong purpose to your work; as a Lead Software Engineer for GCHQ you’re central to our work in keeping the country safe. You’ll have the autonomy to undertake your role, while being supported by those around you.

And at all times, you’ll seek to learn and develop new skills – and ensure others are furthering their potential too.

About You

We value your tenacity and perseverance with problems that seem unsolvable. You’ll often be working in Agile software delivery teams – so your knowledge and skillset across all disciplines of software will be important to your new team. This isn’t an ordinary software engineering job. You’ll often be required to be creative and innovative to solve problems with no precedent in other industries.  

As a Lead Software Engineer, you’ll have the skills and knowledge required of a Senior Engineer, including knowledge of modern computer languages and frameworks such as C++, GoLang, Java, JavaScript, .NET, Node, Python, Rust or Cloud (AWS, Azure, GCP). You’ll contribute to the architecture and design of new and existing systems – and deliver positive outcomes for the business. Resilient and self-motivated, you’ll work with minimal guidance and critically assess your outputs, as well as the work of others inside and outside the team.

As a minimum you’ll have experience of being in a role with hands-on coding and have previously taken ownership of a project or piece of work (in a role such as Multi-skilled Software Engineering, Cloud Engineering, UX, Site Reliability Engineering, Front-End design, Agile, Solution Architecture, Data Engineering, and Machine Learning Operations). You’ll establish best working practices and confidently evaluate customer and business requirements. And of course, you’ll keep up with new and emerging technologies, and look to lead in their adoption to solve mission problems.

In addition, you’ll have the experience required to oversee the design and development of uniquely challenging software projects. You’ll bring your considerable knowledge of solving deep technical problems to our missions, building creative solutions in a dynamic environment. The software projects you’ll work on could be complex in their depth (algorithmic uniqueness, multi-threading and API protection) or in their wider interactions (services, integrations and systems thinking). So, you’ll consider their non-functional requirements, ensuring effectiveness across scale, resilience and security. A proven leader with the ability to develop the skills of others, you’ll utilise your knowledge of modern languages and frameworks, collaborating with colleagues with varying levels of experience to deliver results.

Using your negotiating and communication skills, you’ll lead and advise Senior Software Engineers as well as technical and non-technical customers. You’ll act as a bridge between customers and have an influence outside your local area, utilising your understanding of the full lifecycle of software-based systems – maintaining awareness of the wider picture.


Training and Development

At GCHQ, we’re proud to offer an inclusive and supportive working environment. As an organisation that values and nurtures talent, we are committed to helping you fulfill your potential. In fact, you could spend a minimum of 10% of your time on training and development. We value your ability to learn and adapt to new challenges, so we’ll invest in your skills and the way you like to learn, from books, study, courses, and conferences to stretching work with support of the team.

You’ll be encouraged to drive and shape your own personal development and you’ll have access to learning and development opportunities tailored to your role. You’ll be supported to gain professional qualifications and certifications. Our training can cover a multitude of software disciplines including Front-end Design, Site Reliability Engineering, Data Engineering, Solutions Architecture, Machine Learning operations, UX, Agile and Cloud engineering. 

We’ll help you to master the art of software and become part of our world-class engineering team, including seeking out opportunities to continually learn and develop – for example, through mentoring or spending time with other teams.

Examples of potential training for a Lead Software Engineer include:

  • AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification
  • AWS Developer Certification / AWS Solution Architect Certification
  • Certified SCRUM Master
  • Microservices Architecture Training
  • Advanced Fundamentals / Patterns
  • Advanced Linux & CLI
  • User Experience
  • Internal Training – for example Team Leadership (difficult conversations, leading a team etc.)
  • Cloud Academy / Pluralsight / O'Reilly Subscription.


Rewards and Benefits

You’ll receive a starting salary of £56,944 - £62,477 dependent on skills and experience  (package includes the basic salary and skills payment ), along with an additional one-off recruitment bonus of £5,000, plus other benefits including:

  • 25 days Annual Leave automatically rising to 30 days after 5 years' service, and an additional 10.5 days public and privilege holidays
  • Opportunities to be recognised through our employee performance scheme
  • Interest-free season ticket loan (parking and travel)
  • Excellent pension scheme
  • Cycle to work scheme
  • Facilities such as a gym and restaurant, and on-site coffee bars (at some locations)
  • Paid parental and adoption leave


Equal Opportunities

At GCHQ diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission. To protect the UK, we need a truly diverse workforce that reflects the society we serve. This includes diversity in every sense of the word: those with different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ways of thinking and those with disabilities or neurodivergent conditions. We therefore welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including those from groups that are under-represented in our workforce such as women, those from an ethnic minority background, people with disabilities and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Find out more about our culture, working environment and diversity on our website here.


We’re Disability Confident

GCHQ are proud to have achieved Leader status within the DWP’s Disability Confident scheme.  This is aimed at encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people, we aim to offer a person-to-person interview to any candidate who self-identifies as disabled and meets the essential criteria for the role.  This is our “Offer of Interview” (OOI).  To secure an interview for this vacancy, the essential criteria (in order of application process) are:

  • Demonstrate an ability to solve complex problems and build solutions – assessed at sift.
  • Demonstration of management skills in supervising design and development of software features and/or software teams
  • Evidence an ability to collaborate with others of different technical skillsets and experience levels
  • Demonstrate an expert knowledge on the full cycle of software-based systems – assessed at interview


What to Expect

Our recruitment process is fair, transparent, and based on merit. Here is a brief overview of each stage, in order:

  • Application Sift
  • Expectation contact via phone call or email
  • Technical and competency-based interview, including a presentation.

Please note, you must successfully pass each stage of the process in order to progress to the next. Your application may take around 6 - 9 months to process including vetting, so we advise you continue any current employment until you have received your final job offer.


Before You Apply

Please be advised you may only apply to one of the Software Engineer roles, however, we can advise that you may be considered for one of the other roles should you be suitable.

To work at GCHQ, you need to be a British citizen. You can read full eligibility criteria here.

This role requires the highest security clearance, known as Developed Vetting (DV).  It’s something everyone in the UK Intelligence Community undertakes.  You can find out more about the vetting process here.

Please note we have a strict drugs policy, so once you start your application, you can’t take any recreational drugs and you’ll need to declare your previous drug usage at the relevant stage.

The role is based in Manchester/Greater Manchester or Cheltenham, so you’ll need to live within a commutable distance. Please consider any financial implications and practicalities before submitting an application.


Please note, you should only launch your application from within the UK. If you are based overseas, you should wait until you visit the UK to launch an application. Applying from outside the UK will impact on our ability to progress your application.


Right to Withdraw Statement:

Please be aware that we reserve the right to bring forward the closing date for this role from the original closing date once a certain number of applications have been received. Please be mindful of this and submit your application at your earliest convenience to avoid disappointment.

This Program / Vacancy is closed to applications.