The unemployment rate in technology is running well below the national average – 3.5 percent during 2013’s fourth quarter — and employers regularly complain that there are too few candidates available for too many IT jobs. That’s good. But it doesn’t mean you can approach your job search cavalierly. In any environment, it’s important to understand the dynamics at work so you can position yourself in the best way possible. Here are five dynamics of today’s tech job market you should understand.
It’s critical that tech professionals keep up with new technologies and update their skills appropriately. “The No. 1 thing that impacts a job search is having good experience with the newer technologies,” says Lincoln Stalnaker, director of technology recruiting for the Seattle Search Group. As examples, he cites Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure.
Businesses Need People Who Can Communicate
Communication skill is another area that can impact your search, says Dino Grigorakakis, vice president of recruiting for Randstad Technologies’ Philadelphia, Pa., office. “Communication skills are important because business people have needs and IT people must be able to communicate so that they can fulfill the IT requirements of the given business,” he says.
Experience in Multiple Languages is Expected
Both Grigorakakis and Stalnaker point to the importance of knowing multiple programming languages and having a variety of up-to-date skills. “In the current job market, you need to do more than one thing. You can be systems engineer but also write SQL code,” says Stalnaker. “The more you can do, the more valuable you are. I had one person turned down from a job offer because he could not do middle-tier, so the company would have had to hire two people,” one to do front end, the other to handle middle tier.
Personal Websites Are Used to Source Candidates
Engineers and other tech professionals who fail to create a website with links to their coding projects, resume and social network profiles may be losing out to others who do, says Roger King, founder and CEO of IT recruiting firm Chief People in Sausalito, Calif. “I’m seeing more and more candidates who maintain a personal website with updates to their resume, links to their (social media) profiles, etc. These candidates often have an advantage over those who might send in a resume without so much as a cover letter.”
King adds that in today’s market, employers are largely looking for people with very specific skill sets, and candidates sell themselves short if they haven’t included all of their relevant experience in their materials.
Job Seekers Are Receiving Multiple Job Offers
This one’s a great problem to have. While most of the trends recruiters list can hurt a candidate’s prospects, here’s the great exception. However, as great as multiple offers can be, they have to be managed properly.
“When reviewing multiple job offers, ask yourself what you’re looking for,” says King. “Do you want advancement, a chance to learn new things, a shorter commute? Also, it’s important to consider what you enjoy and don’t enjoy about your current job.”
Stalnaker advises candidates in this situation to look out five years and consider what they want their career to be at that point. Doing that will help you decide which offer is the most attractive.
“Are you willing to work 40-, 50-, 60-hour work weeks?” he asks. “If not, the offer from a more mature company may be more appealing. It will have less fire drills.”
On the other hand, he notes, “people who are starting off in their careers may want to work at smaller companies where there are more opportunities for growth, more impact and more visibility to grow their management skills and be more marketable for the next opportunity.”