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IT salaries 2015: Cash is back!

Stacy Collett | April 28, 2015
Companies that desperately need hot IT skills are ratcheting up salaries and bonuses to lure talented tech workers. Here's how to grab your fair share.

Money matters
No surprise: Money is the biggest motivator for IT professionals when looking for a job or deciding to stick it out with their current employer, according to Computerworld's IT Salary Survey. Nearly half (49%) of survey takers indicate that base pay is among the most important aspects of their current jobs, followed closely by job stability (44%). Of those looking for a new job, 60% were motivated by higher compensation. And 74% of all respondents -- not just those looking for a new job -- said a salary increase would entice them to change jobs.

Good news for them: Companies that desperately need hot IT skills are ratcheting up salaries and bonuses to lure in talent. Sal DiFranco, practice leader for the global advanced technology practice at executive search firm DHR International, says companies are rebounding after years of tight IT budgets and are looking to catch up on skills.

"Companies have recognized these huge gaps in the technical expertise they're looking for -- software application experience, mobile applications, business intelligence, digital and analytics, and the ability to take those and work with digital marketing teams," DiFranco says. "Then you've got the infrastructure side where you've got to be really strong on virtualization and data center consolidation, and get creative with networking and with network operations centers."

IT employees with skills in those areas are "getting good raises internally," DiFranco says, but he notes that many are looking for extra-large gains when changing employers. "They're not going to make a move for an 8%-to-10% [pay increase]. Most of them want 15%, which is a huge jump."

Seek greener pastures
One of the best ways to nab a substantial salary increase is to switch employers, says RHT's Reed. (See "In hot jobs market, IT workers call the shots.") "If you want a 20% raise this year, you're going to have a much better chance of getting that by going to a new company than by going to your boss and saying, 'I need a 20% raise,'" he says.

One Computerworld survey respondent, a 34-year-old senior design and development engineer in Chicago, pulled off a 30% pay increase over the course of 20 months by changing jobs three times. After five years working for a university, he found his salary stuck at $87,000, and previous raises had gone no higher than 5%. A recruiter found him a position at a tech startup earning $105,000 plus a "guaranteed" 25% annual bonus.

"There is a high demand in Chicago for skilled software engineers for Ruby, Python and Java," says the engineer. "I knew the languages and tools" the startup was looking for, he adds.


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