7 IT salary and hiring trends for 2018

Demand for tech talent will continue to outpace supply in the year ahead, while the mix of skills necessary to remain relevant in IT will undergo a significant shift.

The good times for tech workers will continue through the next year, according to Robert Half’s 2018 Salary Guide, which found that today’s tech talent gap will continue to put pressure on businesses in 2018 to the benefit of those they are looking to hire.

The report, which surveyed over 8,000 technology professionals in North America, including 2,500 CIOs, to assess current salary and hiring trends in tech, found that the fight for talent has companies offering tech workers generous perks, incentives and competitive salaries — and that tech work itself has become a more satisfying, less stressful pursuit.

Following are seven of the biggest trends in IT hiring and how it will impact both employers and employees in the year ahead.   

The talent shortage still looms

The talent shortage for tech workers is “no longer just an inconvenience for any employers — it’s quickly becoming a significant business problem,” according to the report. And when companies do find tech talent, they often can’t afford it.

According to Robert Half, 44 percent of CIOs say they miss out on top talent because candidates are seeking higher salaries than they’re able to offer. As a result, there’s been an increase in companies hiring less experienced workers who are “motivated to learn new skills quickly.”

Hiring is too slow

To get the best talent during a shortage, businesses need to speed up the hiring process. The study found that, while it’s understandable business want to be thorough, many companies are dragging out the hiring process. That’s a problem because around two-thirds of the non-executive technology professionals surveyed said they would “lose interest in a job if there was no follow-up within two weeks of an interview.”

The survey found that CIOs are somewhat aware of this problem, as 41 percent said they are unhappy with the length of their hiring processes. On average, the survey found it takes 4.5 weeks to fill a staff-level role. Businesses need to establish a smooth hiring process so that they can quickly hire and onboard qualified talent.

Automation is shifting skills

Automation isn’t poised to kill jobs just yet. At least for now, it’s simply changing the skills that are important to businesses. According to another Robert Half survey, the finance industry is already experiencing a skills shift thanks to automation. Of those surveyed, 56 percent of CFOs said they expect automation to bring increased efficiency to finance and 43 percent also envision improved decision making.

While CFOs are optimistic about automation they also expect it to shift their priorities and primary skillsets. By 2020, CFOs expect “keeping pace with changing technology” as a top priority, followed by managing big data, compliance and maintaining finance reporting standards. To compare, the top priority for CFOS in 2017 is to meet regulatory compliance mandates, while harnessing and managing big data comes in last.

Tech demand goes vertical

Tech is a growing need in every industry, but the survey found that certain vertical industries are experiencing an acute need for tech workers. Healthcare, financial and manufacturing professionals cited a growing demand for tech talent in their respective industries.

In healthcare, there’s a need for modernization and innovation to better deliver patient care. Security and data professionals are in demand in the financial services industry as security becomes a top priority. Automation is impacting the manufacturing industry, where businesses are looking for innovative IT pros to help adapt. Robert Half Technologies expects these industries to “lead IT hiring activity in the year ahead.”

Robert Half Technology notes that workers up on the latest developments in cloud, open source, mobile, big data and security are expected be the most in demand for 2018. And even if you aren’t a pro in one of these specialties, the survey found that as businesses are more pressed for talent, management is more willing to hire less technically qualified candidates who show potential and demonstrate an eagerness to learn.

Soft skills are now required skills

As technology takes on a pivotal role in every business, it’s important to hire tech professionals who can communicate and collaborate with other non-tech departments. That means employers are more interested in candidates with strong listening, critical thinking and communication skills.

For example, 47 percent of CIOs say that their teams need to collaborate with marketing to support digital initiatives, which requires more than technical skills. Workers need to understand the information and then relay it to other people in the company who may not be as technically skilled. As IT becomes more important to the business, soft skills are important to help bridge gaps and foster communication.

For tech workers, satisfaction is up, stress is down

The technology industry currently ranks 6th for on-the-job happiness and it ranks first for the lowest levels of on-the-job stress. Some of that satisfaction might come from the compensation and perks that companies use to lure talent.

Only 19 percent of companies said they didn’t offer bonuses and only 17 percent said they based salary increases on length of service. For 72 percent of businesses, raises are merit-based, while 65 percent said that compensation is based of organization or individual performance. These incentives help motivate workers and keep them satisfied on the job.

Popular perks woo IT talent

To nab the best talent in a competitive market, companies have turned to “perks,” additional benefits outside the standard offerings you’d find at most companies. These include flexible work schedules (62%), regular social events (39%), remote work opportunities (34%), on-site or free gym membership (25%), a compressed schedule (17%) and free food (13%).

To keep talent motivated, companies also offer incentives like awards for individual and team achievements (37%), profit sharing (20%), retention bonuses (18%), stock options (18%) and deferred compensation (16%).

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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