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Recruiting challenges spur higher salaries, better perks

Ann Bednarz | Jan. 6, 2015
Climbing salaries, more voluntary departures, and flexible work options are signs of a challenging IT hiring environment that favors job seekers.

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Skilled job seekers are in an enviable position in the simmering tech industry, as hiring managers compete for talent, boost job offers, and improve on-the-job perks to keep existing employees from looking elsewhere.

"It's really the technologists' choice right now. They can be very picky," says Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing and recruiting firm Modis.

IT pros are more willing to consider a job change than they might have been a few years ago, and when they start exploring their options, it's not uncommon for candidates with hot skills in security, app development or data science, for instance to wind up weighing multiple offers.

Candidates today know they're marketable, says Shravan Goli, president of tech careers site Dice. "They're feeling a lot more confident, they're asking for more money, and they're voluntarily leaving their jobs," Goli says.

The pressure on wages and restlessness are confirmed by hiring managers: 64% said they're seeing candidates ask for more money, and 40% reported an increase in the number of voluntary departures (compared to 34% in mid-2014) , according to Dice's semi-annual hiring survey.

Counteroffers, too, are becoming more commonplace as workers use outside offers as leverage to negotiate for more money from their current employers. "Forty-three percent of recruiters noted that they have to make more counteroffers to retain existing staff, and that's a 10-point upturn from just six months ago. That's a big shift," Goli says.

Looking ahead, demand for tech professionals won't slow down anytime soon, according to Dice. As the new year gets underway, 75% of recruiters said they anticipate hiring more tech professionals in the first six months of 2015 than in the last six months of 2014. The numbers of new hires is fairly substantial: 72% of companies said they plan to expand their staff by more than 10% in early 2015, according to the recruiting community.

Research from Robert Half Technology (RHT) echoes that optimism.

In the first half of 2015, 19% of CIOs plan to expand their teams, according to RHT. That's a significant gain compared to mid-2014, when 14% were planning to add more staff to their departments. (Another 68% of CIOs expect to hire only for open IT roles, 10% plan to put a hold on hiring, and 3% expect to reduce their IT staffing levels in the first six months of the new year.)

Strong hiring numbers will translate into strong negotiating power for tech professionals who are looking for a job or considering leaving their current one. "If you're not addressing compensation levels, you're putting yourself at a distinct competitive disadvantage," says John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Not only does it make it difficult to attract the talent you want, but it's also causing you to lose people within your organization who are being recruited away."


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