It appears that job applicants with in-demand skills will have the advantage when negotiating with hiring managers in 2012.
"It's definitely a candidate's market right now," says Elizabeth Sias, recruiting manager for Randstad Technologies, a Boston-based IT staffing firm. "There are so many opportunities out there. If their company isn't willing to give them the increase they are looking for, they know they can move to another company and get ... another $10,000 a year.''
One indicator that tech wages are going up is the Yoh Index of Technology Wages, which measures wage rate fluctuations of highly skilled temporary workers in technology and engineering. Yoh said September 2011 wages were 6.85% greater than the previous year, which was the biggest jump in three years.
"Skilled temporary professionals are finally beginning to gain much-needed leverage in the marketplace, and are using that leverage to seek higher wages," Yoh's third-quarter report said, adding that temporary employment is a leading indicator of future economic activity.
After several years of flat salaries and reduced benefits, skilled IT professionals may be surprised to find out how much they are worth on the open market.
"When was the last time you checked if your salary was competitive? It's changing quarter over quarter," McGee says. "Most of the smart people who have been hiring in the last year will tell you there has been a dynamic change from Q1 to Q3. It's becoming very painful to find the right person that's someone you want to hire."
Some IT professionals will stay in lower-paying positions with other advantages, such as flexibility, corporate stability or exposure to the latest tools. Employees also want to feel connected to their organization and that their work makes a difference to the bottom line.
"People want the hottest technologies on their resumes," Sias says. "If there's a position where the money might be great but the employee feels stuck in terms of moving to the newest version of software, I do find candidates that are willing to take a pay cut in order to get that great project. Job changes are usually about money, location or the newest technology."
The IT staff turnover rate -- which rose from 3% to 5% in 2011, according to Gartner -- is expected to keep rising next year. Pomeroy predicts it could hit the high single digits by the end of 2012.
That trend will likely lead to unsolicited recruiting calls for top tech talent. So whether you're disgruntled or not, you should have your resume ready, experts say.
"I haven't seen tons of [poaching] in 2011, but I'm expecting it in 2012," McGee says. "IT budgets are going to be flush at the beginning of next year and companies will need to fill their positions. Smart recruiters are going to call the organizations where they know the people aren't happy."
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