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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.

He felt confident that if things didn't work out at the startup, he could easily find another opportunity. The company lasted four months. Two days after his job ended, another recruiter found him a new position making $116,000 plus a $10,000 signing bonus at a technology company.

If you have the right skills, the engineer says, "I don't know if you can necessarily punch your own ticket, but you definitely have the confidence to walk in and say, 'I can contribute significantly to this company.'"

Employers that are on top of their game have done their research and want to be aggressive when hiring IT staffers with the skills they need. "Typically on the low end they're offering 15% to 20% increases in base salaries," says RHT's Reed.

The case for staying put
But it's not always worth the hassle to leave a company. "If an employee can get a 10% raise where they are and the market is commanding 15%, it might not be worth it to jump ship for that extra 5% and leave a company, a position or a manager that you actually like," Reed says.

That sentiment rings true for a 42-year-old network manager at a college in the Northeast. He got a 3.6% raise this year and is now at $95,000. "I would like to have more money, but when you work in education, it's quality of life versus pay," says the nine-year veteran of the college. "I feel well compensated, and I'm within the pay range [for my skills and experience], but I also get five weeks of vacation a year and seven to 10 holidays."

Retaining talent makes sense from the employer's perspective, too. Staff departures cost a company time, money and other resources. Direct replacement costs can reach as high as 50% to 60% of an employee's annual salary, with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% of annual salary, according to statistics reported by the Society for Human Resource Management. That gives companies that can afford it good reason to offer healthy raises to valued employees.

Indeed, of the Computerworld survey respondents who reported base salary increases of 10% or more, just 27% said they changed employers to get the extra money. The rest attributed their pay bumps to promotions, added responsibilities or other reasons.

A senior director of strategic accounts at a life sciences technology company in California scored an 11% pay raise based on performance and a 20% bonus based on the business unit's earnings.

"Certainly salary is a big part of my job satisfaction; the industry is very cyclical and you cannot rely solely on company performance," he says. The 14-year company veteran has had a steady career climb. He started as senior software engineer and moved up the technology ranks. He then migrated into technical marketing and finally into sales.


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