Posted by Robert Half on 15 October 2014
There's little doubt that last year has been a great time to be working in the IT sector. Employers have been hiring, candidates have been in strong demand, and salaries have been on the rise in many roles. For professionals eager to advance their career, there has been plenty of scope to secure promotions or exciting new roles with different organisations.
But as we head towards the end of the year, it's time to start thinking about next year. What can we expect from the IT jobs market from January onwards? We've looked into our crystal ball and the forecast - you'll be pleased to hear - is for more of the same.
IT hiring activity is expected to continue apace, as employers create new roles and look to replace those who move on to other organisations. This means, if you're a skilled and experienced professional looking to advance, you should have the chance to look for another IT job if you want.
Let's look at some of the reasons why there's reason for optimism:
1. Economic growth
After a number of difficult years of stuttering growth, budget cuts and redundancies, businesses are fighting back. Employers have regained their confidence in a growing economy and are now looking to rebuild their teams. Businesses are looking to expand and capitalise on new commercial opportunities.
To do so, they are investing in infrastructure and personnel, appreciating the need to add capacity as they target growth. This is benefiting the wider jobs market, but especially IT jobs, given the more central role it is now playing in many firms' operations.
2. IT upgrades
During the economic downturn, organisations were forced to abandon - or at least delay indefinitely - capital projects such as IT upgrades. But with the economy rebounding, they now have the financial strength and flexibility to forge ahead with modernisation initiatives. They have the funding in place - all that is missing is skilled technology people to deliver projects.
The Robert Half Salary Guide has found there will be an increase in new projects including business intelligence, mobile solutions, application development, information risk/security and virtualisation initiatives. This is prompting increased headcount levels, on both a permanent and contract basis.
3. Continued innovation
The rapid pace of innovation in the technology sector can make it difficult for some organisations to keep up with the rest of the field. They need skilled IT professionals, and in many cases, they require additional capacity. New solutions and techniques are emerging all the time, offering a business advantage to early adopters. However firms need to have high-calibre people capable of, firstly, identifying IT opportunities, and secondly, capitalising on them.
4. Increased risk
The fact that more business processes have moved online has natural implications from a security perspective. The internet offers great opportunities to businesses, but it also carries inherent risks - such as virus and malware attacks, data loss and costly service outages. As such, many organisations will hire for their security teams - assuming they can find people with the skills they require.
5. Skills shortage
IT leaders are challenged in hiring skilled and experienced technology people, owing to a lack of candidate supply. The surge in demand for IT expertise - particularly in niche areas - has caught the market short, as companies from a whole range of sectors seek tech professionals. Demand is rising naturally due to the more integral role played by organisations' IT functions, but at the same time, there are not enough new people entering the sector. Fewer students are studying for computing-related degrees, meaning fewer graduates are targeting IT jobs, just at a time when role availability is rising.
This might not be good news for the economy as a whole, as some organisations could see their growth plans stifled by a shortage of skills. But for individual professionals, it is something of a boon. With demand for staff exceeding supply, there is scope to secure promotions, new roles at different organisations, and potentially more attractive pay and benefits packages. Candidates with specialist skills are finding themselves with multiple offers and counteroffers, as employers compete to secure the industry’s top talent.
6. Contracting opportunities
The strong demand for IT professionals means there could be opportunities to move into contracting. Many organisations are looking to recruit skilled professionals quickly for short-term placements. They are willing to pay handsomely for IT contractors, who can oversee specific projects, fill skills gaps and transfer knowledge to permanent employees.
If you have a well written CV, including wide industry experience and niche skills, interim opportunities may well be available. These can offer flexibility, interesting work across different industry segments, and high rates of pay to the right candidates.
7. Because you're ready
IT professionals are not just reliant on a growing economy and supportive hiring climate for exciting new opportunities. Those who have invested time and effort developing their skills set, and gaining vital experience over a number of years, may be ready for advancement irrespective of external factors.
Employers are always looking to recruit the best people - those who can drive their organisations forward and add value to the bottom line. If you can make a tangible difference to an organisation, there is scope to progress whether in a period of relative prosperity or a downturn.
With next year set to be another year for growing technology demands, there should be many opportunities in the IT jobs market. It's up to candidates to get their CV in order and start thinking about the future - how they can go about securing their dream IT job.