Tech Recruiting: State of The Industry & How To Compete

While in many ways the world is still reeling from the lasting effects of the Covid pandemic, the tech job market has emerged altered yet expanding with great aim and ambition. According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, occupational growth for software developers, quality assurance analysts and testers will surge 22% by 2029. That long-term growth forecast for tech employment is bolstered by today’s increasingly positive hiring sentiments across businesses.

A recent The Harris Poll survey found that 70% of companies with 500 or more employees plan to increase hiring this year. The survey also found that 61% of businesses will focus new hiring on white-collar work, emphasizing that strategic expansion is underway. With employment momentum strong and tech talent needs high, one of the best tools hiring managers can leverage in their recruitment efforts is marketplace insight. How did the challenges of 2020 shape demand today? What are the Covid trends in compensation and perks and will they endure?

We’ve gathered employment and market data to help hiring managers assess where Covid and economic recovery trends are shaping the job market and the expectations of job seekers. Use them to gain insight into the candidate mindset, to win leadership support for your IT recruitment strategies and to build a future-focused workforce capable of supporting your innovation goals. 

2020’s Tech Job Losses Erased

In the spring of 2020, more than 100,00 IT jobs were lost as the country endured the initial shock of the pandemic and widespread shutdowns. Despite this initial downtrend, the third and fourth quarter of the year saw tech hiring surge. According to CompTIA research, tech employment at the end of 2020 made it back to 12.2 million, approximately the same as 2019. Demand for increased tech infrastructure and the expansion of e-commerce amid Covid drove the 2020 IT rehiring push as businesses, schools, government and individuals leveraged technology to navigate remote, socially distanced worlds.

Demand for Tech Talent Surges & Supply Dries Up
In 2021, tech hiring and the growing demand for IT skills has continued to gain momentum and outpace hiring overall. By June of 2021, IT unemployment fell to 2.2%, less than half of the overall national unemployment rate of 5.9%. Techserve Alliance reports that “IT employment has increased by 4.34% since June 2020 adding 223,200 IT workers” and those numbers are anticipated to grow quickly as the economies worldwide focus on digital growth and innovations. The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs report, for example, reveals that 9 out of the top 10 jobs in greatest demand worldwide are technology jobs with data scientists and analysts, AI and machine learning specialists and big data specialists being the world’s most sought-after professionals. As the demand grows for IT talent, the world’s businesses and markets will not be able to keep pace. According to research from Korn Ferry, the technology, media, and telecommunications sector will see that talent shortage grow to 4.3 million workers by 2030, which will equal unrealized output of $449.70 billion. 

The big lesson in the tech jobs data for hiring managers and business leaders is that despite the struggles of 2020, the competition for tech talent has rebounded fiercely and has no end in sight. For every strategic innovator or skilled tech specialist you’re seeking out, plenty of other employers are on the same hunt and are ready to compete.

Wage Competition Is Strong: Be Ready to Pay
Wage inflation and a global field of competitors are also a concern. According to CompTIA, median tech wages are already 89% higher than median national wages. For example, Tholons, the global tech consulting and investment firm, said they have seen salaries for digital platform skills “go up by 20%.”

In addition to wage competition, hiring managers need to remember they are now up against a wider geographic range of competitors for talent. With tech industry leaders like Facebook and Google allowing permanent work-from-home options, those seeking to hire tech workers (or poach internal tech talent) could be from any location around the world. Your local market hiring competition is now global.

Flexibility Is Key: Consider Permanent Remote
Remote work is a highly sought after job perk for many people today. In May of 2021, LinkedIn reported that job postings that offered “remote work” were up by 457%. Software and IT services was second only to communications and media as the industry with the most job listings offering remote work.

A recent Blind survey, which reached 5,000+ tech employees at companies like Twitter, Facebook and Amazon, found that 66% of employees who are not satisfied with their employer’s work from home/hybrid policy want to leave their jobs. The survey also found that businesses that “mandate employees to return to the office will risk losing their employees” while those that allow their tech worker to either fully work from home or apply to do so “are likely to retain most of their employees.”

The flexibility tech workers gained over the last 18 months is not something many are willing to give up. Employers willing to continue and accommodate work from home arrangements for their tech teams are going to have a solid recruiting advantage over those that don’t. They are offering today’s most sought-after job perk, and they are taking away many geographic limitations and embracing a bigger pool of applicants who can work from anywhere.

Listen & Stay Creative
With unrelenting competition for tech talent coming in from all sides, creativity will be the key to filling jobs and finding ways to accomplish technology goals in the years ahead. Listening to what your most productive and innovative internal tech workers are looking for and what they love about the work is a great place to start. Let them help you build a talent engagement plan.

Working with outsourcing and consulting partners when talent gaps threaten progress can keep your business forward. Let them supplement your workforce.

And remember to make the workplace a place where tech skills are learned and advanced. Hiring for every skill tech gap will not always be an option when the competition is this strong. However, upskilling and developing talent is always an option. For those eager to lead and innovate, it’s more than an option. It’s a key part of the path forward.

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