Already, IT pros are in line for the biggest pay increases compared to other working professionals. Starting salaries for professional occupations across all fields in the U.S. are projected to increase an average of 3.8% in 2015, Robert Half predicts. In tech, the average starting salary for newly hired IT pros is forecast to climb 5.7%.
Salary bumps are just the beginning. IT pros can also expect to see greater bonus pay and more generous benefits in 2015, experts says.
On the compensation front, more companies are offering financial incentives such as project bonuses. Given to employees when they complete a critical deployment, project bonuses allow companies to dole out extra compensation without committing to permanent salary increases.
Retention bonuses are also becoming more common. A tactic for retaining critical personnel who might be considering leaving, retention bonuses are typically awarded to employees for staying for a specific time period, such as through the completion of a project or merger. Likewise, some equity grants are designed to vest when project milestones are achieved, which also helps encourage employees to stay longer.
Worth noting is companies' restraint: While pay is trending upward, it's not increasing dramatically, notes Cullen.
"You would think in a high-demand environment that people would be paying better-than-market rates to get these folks. But companies are really trying not to do that. No one seems to be just rolling out a wheelbarrow of cash. The increases in salaries, and the increases in hourly rates for contractors, are there, but they're increasingly slightly."
"I was really expecting to start seeing a substantial rise. I thought we'd see it in 2014. We haven't seen it," Cullen says.
Hiring managers also aren't rushing into new hires, despite the competition for certain skilled workers. The time it takes to fill open positions has lengthened relative to last year, according to 46% of recruiters polled by Dice.
"Companies are very picky, too. They're still maintaining discipline in their hiring approach," Cullen says. Part of the reason is to avoid unnecessary employee turnover. "The turnover that companies have experienced has become very much a turnoff, so they're really being particular in their hiring process to make sure they bring in somebody who's going to stick," Cullen says.
Meanwhile, instead of simply throwing cash at candidates, companies are trying to be as creative as they can in attracting talent. "Companies are doing a really good job of managing their budgets, and managing their pay rates, so they've got to find other ways to convince people to come work there," Cullen says.
That's where perks come in.
While compensation is paramount, it's not the only factor IT pros consider. Amenities can make a difference, and companies are bolstering their offerings with extras such as subsidized meals and free refreshments, on-premises fitness and daycare centers, training opportunities, and subsidized public transportation.
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