The Market for IT Professionals Hotter Than Ever

recruiting (2)While the national economy in total is slowly, but steadily, gaining momentum, the technology job marketplace is as competitive as it’s ever been right now.

According to figures compiled by the tech job board Dice, the unemployment rate among U.S. IT workers at the conclusion of 2012 stood at 3.3 percent, which was, and is, significantly lower than the overall unemployment rate of 7.6 percent. In May, the TechAmerica Foundation published a report that said the U.S. tech industry added 67,400 jobs in 2012, which represented a 1.1 percent increase from the previous year. The report also said that 39 states saw a net increase in tech employment in 2012, with the largest increases coming in California (17,700 jobs), Texas (10,000) and New York (8,400).

As companies continue to bolster their IT departments with permanent and part-time personnel to complete project upgrades that were delayed during the economic downturn of a few years ago, it is important they assess the strategies they are using to attract and retain the best talent. Understanding what needs to be done to compete in this relentlessly competitive marketplace for IT talent is crucial for long-term success.

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Considerations that all corporations should be making in order to compete in this environment are:

  • Aligning employee skill sets with targeted areas of company growth
  • Establishing an efficient process for onboarding new talent
  • Creating a compensation structure that is competitive with the external environment
  • Knowing what their ideal mix is when it comes to hiring permanent staff and consultants.

Focusing on those considerations will allow firms to thrive in the onboarding process and create stronger internal environments.

How It Should Work

Aligning employee skill sets with targeted areas of company growth. Companies that are interested in bringing on personnel need to first review the market dynamics that affect their industry and what they mean to their personnel and skill sets. The goal is to align internal expertise with any technological changes in the marketplace, so that your team is positioned to advance the objectives of the company. If new skills are needed to adapt to the changing technology paradigm(s), then staff augmentation becomes a must.

Please keep in mind, however, that consultants are moving from one opportunity to the next at a rate that we have never seen before. They want to maximize their professional potential and constantly be adding to their skill sets. What this means for those making the hiring decisions is that you can find the person you need to complete the task(s) you have to fulfill in an expeditious manner.

Establishing an efficient process for onboarding new talent. In this economy, it is vital that job descriptions be “pitch perfect” in order to attract the best qualified candidates. As business picks up and more staff is required, it’s important to develop more focused job descriptions that attract the best qualified applicants.

What Top Candidates Want

Environments that will compensate them fairly are the most technologically advanced, convenient for them to get to and promote a culture that each individual will deem is comfortable. In order to compete in this era, interviewers must be able to sell their firms’ technological and competitive advantages. And they can’t overlook the importance of representing their companies’ culture in a way that will entice candidates to want to join their team.

In the current environment, hiring decisions must be made rapidly, or you could lose the candidate that best fits your need profile. Starting with an initial phone screen will allow you to determine if that person is worthy of a personal interview. And most importantly, interviewers should have a list of questions prepared that will probe their candidate’s ability to do the job.

Creating a compensation structure that is competitive with the external environment. Salary levels are rising for IT professionals. According to the TechAmerica Foundation report, the average salary paid to IT professionals at the end of 2012 was $93,800. For workers outside of the industry it was $47,400. California paid its IT workers the highest annual wage at $123,900, while Massachusetts was second at $116,000 and Washington state was third at $110,200.

Know that candidates fielding multiple job opportunities are in a strong position to negotiate compensation. If your company is ready to hire someone, have established salary ranges that provide flexibility and parameters for individual candidate skill sets and attributes. If you do not, you stand the risk of losing someone who can help you execute your plans moving forward, and run the risk of falling behind your competitors.

Knowing what their ideal mix is when it comes to hiring permanent staff and consultants. A staff comprised entirely of permanent employees can be less flexible, which is a problem if the company’s product or internal technology programs do not develop as anticipated. Market conditions need to be assessed – continuously – to determine if existing personnel needs to be augmented with permanent or temporary new employees.

Typically, contract staffing can help companies ramp up to meet their personnel needs faster, since the assignment length of a consultant can vary and be customized to meet the production needs of the firm.

While it is a consultant’s “world” in corporate IT right now, many are willing to work for leading companies on a contract basis, and move to a permanent position at a later time.

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Mike McBrierty
Mike McBrierty is the Chief Operating Officer for Eliassen Group and heads all sales and recruiting efforts in support of the company’s New England Staffing Division, National Practice, Life Sciences Practice, Biometrics and Data Solutions Practice.

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