The nation’s unemployment rate is at a near record low, with more open jobs than candidates to take them. And technology is a sector with some of the fewest people available for all the vacant positions. This tight job market is great for IT workers, but it is stressful for hiring managers struggling to keep up with the demand for skilled talent.
To find the professionals you need, it helps to have the most current information for the tech job market. Here’s an overview of the latest hiring trends for the first half of 2019 from Robert Half Technology.
- Cloud and security skills are in demand. Which IT expertise will you have the most trouble finding? Our recent State of U.S. Tech Hiring research shows that, among the IT decision-makers surveyed, cybersecurity is the No. 1 area employers need to address right now. Not surprisingly, the respondents’ top business concern is maintaining the security of their IT systems. Other in-demand skills are cloud security, cloud computing, cloud architecture, and business intelligence.
As these needs increase, skilled candidates become harder to recruit. One solution can be to relax the requirements for technical skills, which can be learned relatively easily. Focus instead on identifying tech-savvy candidates who are a good fit for your organizational culture and are eager to explore these technologies.
- Employers seek hybrid professionals. Many managers are in need of staff with a mix of skills for blended roles. Our research shows a rise in jobs that sit between IT and other departments, such as marketing or finance. When you come across these candidates, get ready to move fast because other employers are likely to want them, as well.
- IT leaders are feeling optimistic. The current economy is good for most U.S. organizations. Almost all the IT leaders surveyed—97%—feel confident about their company’s growth prospects for the first half of 2019. Additionally, 63% of respondents plan to bring in additional full-time staff this year. If you haven’t started acting on your hiring plans, you might want to get going so you can beat your competition to the best-available candidates.
- Recruiting is getting tougher. At the same time, employers realize the uphill struggle of expanding their current tech team. Eighty-seven percent of the survey respondents said it’s challenging to find IT talent in their metro area.
One solution is to expand the geographical boundaries of your search. In another Robert Half survey, 62% of workers in the United States said they’d be willing to relocate for the right opportunity. And not all roles require someone to be physically in your office, so going with a remote employee can be a possibility.
- Companies rely on flexible IT staffing. Not every project requires full-time employees. In fact, it’s often more cost-effective to bring in consultants and interim staff to work on cyclical and onetime assignments. Of the IT managers surveyed, 69% said they have prepared a budget that includes money for project-based professionals, giving them an edge not only financially but also in the ability to hire skilled contractors others may not even consider.
- Upskilling is a major focus. In a tight job market, companies realize that training employees in new areas is a less expensive alternative to external hiring. It’s not surprising that 90% of the IT decision-makers we surveyed said they’re upskilling some or all of their employees. The most common areas for this professional development are cloud computing, security, project management, data science, and machine learning/artificial intelligence.
- Companies focus on employee retention. Another way to win in times of hiring challenges is to keep workers happy in their jobs so they won’t pursue other opportunities. Salary is one of the main factors for staff attrition, so use online salary resources to make sure you’re paying IT employees a competitive wage for your city.
Also, your company’s benefits, perks, and incentives can play a huge role in staff retention, so offer what workers want most. Some of the items on their wish lists include generous paid time off (the average desired is 14 days), retirement savings plans, a flexible work schedule, a compressed workweek, bonuses, and profit-sharing plans.
- Organizational fit matters. In yet another recent Robert Half survey, 91% of managers said a candidate’s fit is equally or more important than skills and experience. This sentiment works both ways, as 35% of workers said they would turn down an otherwise perfect job if they didn’t feel that the organization’s culture was right for them. In the new year, take some time to make sure your corporate culture is one that attracts and keeps top talent, then make sure you consider candidates’ fit with appropriate weight.
The current hiring environment is challenging, and companies must work extra hard to find the specialized IT talent they need. Make your job easier by using the latest compensation and employment trends to your advantage.
John Reed is the Executive Vice President of Robert Half. Reed has an extensive background in both IT and staffing, including 13 years in IT product sales and over 16 years in the staffing industry.