We talk to our customers and prospects daily about finding good, quality IT and software people. Everyone is arriving at the same conclusion – it is getting harder to find those high caliber IT and Software people to join your company. Some will respond with “no kidding?’. There is an obviousness to the statement. But even to those who want to dismiss it, we challenge that most IT hiring managers are still underestimating the tech skills gap.
Here are a few numbers to put things in perspective:
- According to Code.org, there are 500,000 open IT and software job in the US
- There are just over 86,000 people working in IT and Software in Houston
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, during a recent 18-month period, 1 in every 7 jobs created in the US was in IT or Software
Let’s dig in and consider some of the topics that are making it harder to bring in top IT and software people.
For the last 12 months the unemployment rate has been hovering between 3.6% and 3.9%. The last time the unemployment rate stayed this far and this long under 4% was in the late 1960s. The unemployment rate for IT and software people is even lower. According to the BLS, the unemployment rate for technology people in the same period ranges from 1.7% to 2.3%. The technology unemployment rate is typically 1.4% – 1.8% LOWER than national averages. This gets interesting for places like Odessa, Texas where the local unemployment rate is 1.8%.
The bottom line for the unemployment rate is there are way more jobs than people. The good developers do not need to look at a job posting. The jobs are coming to them. If they get unhappy with a boss, company or project, they can just start taking the phone calls or answer recruiter emails about new opportunities.
There are More Skills to Consider
In the very recent past, if a .NET developer had the following skills, they had plenty of options on jobs:
Today, if that is the same skill a developer features in their profile or resume, they have fewer job options. Why? Employers and projects demand additional skills with greater precision.
That’s just the front-end. Employers and projects also look at the rest of the technology stack. They look for one or many levels of experience within each area.
- .NET / .NET Core / .NET Standard
- WCF / WCF REST / Web API
- MVC/ MVP/ MVVM / MVI
- SQL/ Oracle / Mongo / Redis / Hadoop
- AWS / Azure / GCP
- Agile / GitHub / Docker
Just a few years ago, we looked for people who could match 7 out of 10 technical skills. Now we are looking for people who match 14 out of 80. There are many more jobs, but each one requires more specific skills.
Top Talent is Getting Swooped Up
A Recent New York Times articles talked about the shortage of talent that understands Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The story had many examples of newly minted Master’s and Doctorate grads receiving offers of $300K – $500K with all the perks you could dream up. Yes, people with no experience and only a degree getting a $500K starting salary. Welcome to 2019.
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To be fair, these are individuals graduating from the top computer science schools and working in Silicon Valley. Regardless, this has a downstream effect. A software client of ours had a steady flow of 6-10 interns every summer. Every year, they made offers to the top 5-7 people. Every year those interns accepted the offers, until this last year. For the first time, every intern turned them down. Not because they did not like the company. They received other offers $10K – $20K more. The original offers were historically competitive. The market changed on the company.
There is more competition and new jobs grabbing the new talent and the top talent. Who is going to say ‘No’ to a $500K payday? This leaves a void where they were or with whom normally hired them. Silicon Valley is doing more to bring in talent from around the country, leaving more jobs to fill.
New Job / New Technologies
Right now, there are qualified people with the right skills and background NOT working on your infrastructure or software project. They aren’t because they are making more money doing something like:
- Social media Influencer
- Twitch Streamer
- Red Team Penetration Tester
- DevOps Engineer
These are jobs, careers, that have all been created, or blossomed, in the last 5 years.
Think about the network engineer who was assigned all the security tickets 5 years ago. That individual goes out and gets their CISSP and moves to a cybersecurity Consulting firm and becomes part of the Red Team penetration test group. The number of cybersecurity consulting firms is growing and so is the pay for the people employed there.
The social media manger, a new job by itself, realizes that when they reach 100K Instagram followers, they can charge $1,000 to post something. (Yes, that is the going rate for Instagram).
The IT support tech who is a good gamer can stream his games and commentary on Twitch. The top 10 earners on Twitch made about $2,000,000 each. As eSports grows, and it will, more eyeballs are directed this way.
New technologies and the digital economy provide many new ways for people to make money and have a career. As these opportunities grow, more people will move to them. The individuals doing this come from the same talent pool that information technology and software draws from.
With over 500,000 open IT jobs, the technologists are not the only ones being drawn to Information Technology and software. More and more recruiters are shifting their focus or entering the IT space. This means the technology worker is going to get more calls about potential opportunities and jobs.
There are several IT people and software developers who hate being contacted by recruiters all the time. Recruiters do serve a purpose. If that technologist gets bored, doesn’t like a management direction or just wants to try something new, they do not have to do a wide search on the job boards. All they need to do is start taking phone calls from the recruiters that are contacting them.
The good IT and software people do get contacted frequently by recruiters. There is nothing a recruiter loves more than to build trust with a god candidate and market them to their client base. Posting a job on Monster and Dice is not enough to attract good IT and software people in 2019.
Yes, it is getting harder to find, recruit and hire good Information Technology and software people. It will only get harder from here. We expect technology jobs to double in ten years. Salaries will go up significantly. Perks are expected. Employers will have to find new ways to convince the quality technologist to join their teams.
Are you finding it harder to locate the good technical and IT talent? Many companies find them selves in the same situation. There are some better ways to locate and attract the right it and technical people to your company. Contact us to learn more.