Senior and Lead Software Engineers Ref. 2580

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Technology Roles
Cheltenham, Manchester
Senior Software Engineer £41,889 - £49,436 Lead Software Engineer £54,885 - £69,710 (package includes basic salary, concessionary payment and skills payment), you will also receive an additional one-off recruitment bonus.

About Us

We’re GCHQ, and we unlock the complex world of communications to make a real difference to the safety of the nation. We work closely with our partners in the intelligence community to safeguard Britain's people, interests, and businesses from threats such as serious organised crime, people and drugs trafficking, terrorism and cyber-attacks.

Your work is at the core of everything we build. We offer a strong work-life balance and benefits, training and certifications and are remote-working friendly. Our culture is centred on embracing a growth mindset, equality and encouraging teams and leaders to bring their best each day. 

You’ll have a lot of freedom; you’ll work closely with colleagues, and we’ll trust you to decide the best way to get things done; whether something requires high quality or a quick turnaround; how best to organise yourselves as part of a group and how best to meet the needs of the mission. Above all there is a strong purpose to your work as a Software Engineer for GCHQ, you’ll be central to our work to keep the country safe.

Available Roles

Our engineering requirements are wide-ranging, with roles covering a number of different disciplines. It’s why we need engineers with equally diverse skillsets. If you have a talent for software engineering, cloud engineering, UX, site reliability engineering, front-end design, Agile, solution architecture, data engineering or machine learning operations – you’ll discover exciting and often unique work in a role with us.


Senior Software Engineer

As a Senior Software Engineer, you’ll work and sometimes lead an Agile team in tackling real-world mission problems. So, you’ll be familiar with a range of software engineering methods, languages and frameworks including JavaScript, Java, C++, Node, Python, Rust, Go and .NET. With your knowledge you’ll ensure best practice at all times, seeking out opportunities to learn and develop not just your abilities, but those of others – whether that’s liaising with technical and non-technical customers or mentoring junior team members. Whether you’re reviewing pull requests or defining review, branching and deployment strategies, you’ll assist key projects and in doing so, influence the wider engineering community.


Lead Software Engineer

In this role, 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. 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 engineering mindset, tenacity and perseverance with problems that seem unsolvable. You’ll often be working in Agile software delivery teams - your knowledge and skill 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.  

Diverse teams really are the best teams. So, if you are excited about working with us and think you can do much of what we are looking for but aren’t sure if you are 100% there yet... why not just give it a go!   

As a Senior Software Engineer, you will want to show us your potential and aptitude – we’re not looking for you to be ‘ready-made’. Ideally, you’ll need some experience working in, and leading, Agile project teams. With sound communication skills, you’ll demonstrate a keenness to collaborate with people of all levels of technical ability and have experience mentoring and developing the engineering skills of others. With your knowledge of modern computer languages and frameworks such as C++, GoLang, Java, JavaScript, .NET, Node, Python, Rust or Cloud (AWS, Azure, GCP), you’ll make your own contributions 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.

And, with your previous experience in a technology role (such as Software Engineering, Quality Assurance, Technical Architect or Networking), 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.

At 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. This may include experience in one of these roles: Multi-skilled Software Engineering, Cloud Engineering, UX, Site Reliability Engineering, Front-End design, Agile, Solution Architecture, Data Engineering, and Machine Learning Operations.

As a Lead Software Engineer, you’ll have the skills and knowledge required of the Senior Engineer- but importantly, you’ll also 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.

With your negotiating and communicating 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 fulfil your potential. In fact, you could spend up to 30% of your time with us 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 Senior 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

As a Senior Software Engineer, you’ll receive a salary from £41,889 - £49,436 dependant on skills and experience (package includes basic salary, concessionary payment and skills payment), you will also receive an additional one-off recruitment bonus. As a Lead Software Engineer, you’ll receive a salary from £54,885-£69,710 dependent on skills and experience (package includes basic salary, concessionary payment and skills payment), you will also receive an additional one-off recruitment bonus. Specialist Skills Bonuses are based on assessment at interview and reviewed every 3 years. Our other benefits also include:


  • 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
  • Opportunities to work flexibly, including hybrid working, subject to business needs
  • Interest-free season ticket loan
  • 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

Culture and Working Environment

As part of our team, you'll discover an inclusive workplace that's welcoming, supportive and encouraging.  You'll be part of an organisation where people want to support one another and make a difference. Aside from fostering an open culture, we've got a range of growing affinity groups including:

  • Ethnic Minority and gender equality networks.
  • Groups supporting wellbeing, mental health, Neurodiversity and disability.
  • Faith/no faith communities.
  • LGBTQ+ support networks.

You’ll also find a variety of sports, activity, interest and social groups to help you settle in and connect with people with similar interests. 


Before You Apply

To work at GCHQ, you need to be a British citizen. We do 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.

Honesty and integrity are really important if you want to work at GCHQ. Take some time to read about the vetting process and make sure you meet the criteria in the vetting pages of the ‘How to Apply’ section. The process can take some time, but this is just because it’s thorough. Giving misleading information and omitting or concealing information during the recruitment and vetting process is viewed very seriously.

The roles are based in 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.


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, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, 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.


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.  Being Disability Confident, we aim to ensure that a fair and proportionate number of disabled applicants that meet the minimum criteria for this position will be offered an interview where practicable; this is known as ‘Offer of an Interview’. To secure an interview for this vacancy, the minimum criteria (in order of application process) are:


Senior Software Engineer Role:

  • Demonstration of having taken ownership of a project or piece of work (evidenced in application form)
  • Ability to understand several modern languages/frameworks, such as C++, GoLang, Java, JavaScript, .Net, Node, Python, Rust.
  • Demonstration of working in Agile project teams


Lead Software Engineer Role: 

  • Demonstrate an ability to solve complex problems and build solutions
  • Demonstration of management skills in supervising design and development of software features and/or software teams
  • An ability to collaborate with others of different technical skillsets and experience levels.
  • Understand the full cycle of software-based systems


Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to apply, you must be a British Citizen. One of your parents must be a British Citizen or must have the nationality or citizenship from our approved list of countries (further information on our eligibility criteria can be found here. If you hold dual nationality, of which one component is British, you will nonetheless be considered. Candidates must normally have been resident in the UK for seven out of the last ten years. This is particularly important if you were born outside the UK. You can apply at the age of 17 years, if successful you will not be offered a start date prior to your 18th birthday. Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member. 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 of the UK will impact on our ability to progress your application. Further information on our eligibility criteria can be found on the Applying section. 


What to Expect

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

  • Application Form Sift
  • Expectation telephone call
  • Competency-based interview, including a technical section

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.

Our Vetting

To work in these roles you will need the highest security clearance, known as Developed Vetting (DV). It’s something everyone in the UK Intelligence Community has to go through and it can take some time. As part of the DV process you will be asked to fill in a detailed questionnaire and attend an interview with a vetting officer. In your interview the vetting officer will have a thorough, compassionate and honest discussion with you about you as a person and your life experiences, to ensure holding a DV clearance is right for you. You don’t need to do any preparation for your vetting interview, just be honest and be yourself. All applicants for DV are treated impartially and consistently, irrespective of gender, race, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation and other protected characteristics.

Please return to the main job page to apply for this role. Click 'Submit' at the bottom of the page where you will be taken to complete the application form. Within the application you will be prompted to select which role you are applying for.

Right to Withdraw Statement:

Please be aware that we withhold 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.