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IT Staffing Trends 2020: How to Prepare Your Company

Over the coming months, businesses that employ IT professionals can expect several changes in the national job market, including:

  • An increase in contract hiring.
  • Growing demand for IT security hires.
  • A different definition of “senior level” for tech professionals.
  • A new norm for employee tenure.

Matthew Marini is the managing director of Agile, the Atlanta IT staffing firm. He and his company offer this “IT Staffing Trends 2020” resource to help employers plan their hiring strategy for the new year.

1. Businesses Will Focus on Contract Hiring Over Permanent Positions

In Agile’s 2019 analysis, we saw that a strong and certain economy would drive both full-time employment and contract-to-perm positions. However, IT staffing trends are pointing towards a change in 2020.

As we enter a period of greater economic uncertainty, trade tensions, and other macroeconomic conditions, more companies are seeking contract-based IT workers over full-time employees. Many of these businesses are mid-sized and large companies that, just a year ago, had been focused on direct hires and converting contractors to permanent employment.

Recommendations for Employers

Recognize both the advantages and the disadvantages of IT contract hiring. This approach may give your business the flexibility to grow and shrink its headcount as economic conditions dictate. However, hourly wages for technical contractors may be more expensive over the long term. There also may be a cultural division between full employees and those with whom you’re in a short-term relationship.

If you have a series of projects that have a definitive start and end and if revenue projections are murky for your company, consider the contract work option. If, however, full-time employment is still your goal, limit contract hiring to the roles for which it’s most suitable.

2. Demand for IT Security Talent Will Continue to Grow

Over the past 12 months, many of Agile’s clients have been pursuing some type of multiyear, security-related project. IT security isn’t a new concern, but we are seeing companies spend a larger portion of their budget on the issue.

One of the main drivers is that data breaches are becoming more public. Their frequency and cost are motivating businesses to address problems before they occur. This represents hundreds of millions of dollars invested in data security, including hiring.

Recommendations for Employers

IT staffing trends in 2020 will include an increased demand for IT security professionals. This includes security operations personnel, analysts, information security officers, support engineers, threat vulnerability engineers, cyber defense experts, and network security techs.

If your company is planning to hire for these roles, expect a competitive market for talent. Increased demand is leading to higher salaries and fewer available applicants. Working with IT staffing companies like Agile can help in identifying candidates and successful recruitment. You might also consider sponsoring an engineer for training; local employers can take advantage of a coding bootcamp or online training to bring their staff up to speed.

3. “Senior” Candidates Will No Longer Require a Decade of Experience

This is one of the IT staffing trends continuing from 2019 into 2020. In the past, employers that hired for senior software engineer positions would expect a decade of experience. More junior-level workers would get merit increases on a yearly basis and then, over time, work their way into positions of greater responsibility.

This timeline to enter a leadership role has shrunk significantly. We have seen — and expect to continue to see — senior developers with less than three years of experience. Tech professionals do work that can be quantified and evaluated. When companies find individuals who have the best approach to problems and who write the best code, they are elevating them to senior positions.

Recommendations for Employers

It’s hard to ignore the realities of this job market, where there’s a scarcity of high-quality developers and a large demand for their skills. When Agile works with employers on their IT staffing needs, we recommend that they broaden their focus beyond years of experience to find the best candidates possible.

The number of years a professional has been doing a job doesn’t always line up with the value he or she can offer. Many times, we’ve seen a talented developer with fewer years of experience become a star after moving to a supervisory role. When a professional works on many different types of projects or spends time at a top IT shop, he or she can bring a lot to a senior position.

4. Employees Will Spend Less Time at More Companies

Tenured employees will become increasingly rare. Millennial workers, who make up the largest portion of the workforce, generally aren’t looking for a job where they can stay for 40 years.

Instead, IT employees may want to work a few years at a good company on an interesting project and then move to the next opportunity. Changing positions typically comes with an increase in pay and title. We anticipate these IT staffing trends to hold true in 2020; even if economic factors hinder hiring as a whole, the market for technology positions should remain strong.

Recommendations for Employers

We advise companies to acknowledge the change that is taking place in the workforce. In the past, employers might have ruled out candidates who moved from job to job every few years. That type of resume is now common, particularly for IT professionals who might work in a series of contract positions.

If an employer prioritizes retention, it should invest in what matters most to these workers. Agile conducts thousands of interviews annually with technical job seekers. In recent years, the most important criteria have been compensation and work-life balance.

Other aspects of a job, like working with the latest technology and in-office amenities, are still significant. However, if a company can provide a good salary and make it easier for employees to code from home a few days a week, that company can be more competitive for top job candidates and keep them longer.

Ready for the Future

Changes in the job market can challenge your business at the time when it most needs talent. By planning and preparing for the IT staffing trends we expect in 2020, you can recruit employees more effectively and keep the workers you already have.

Talk with Agile about your business’ employment strategy. Get in touch with our recruiting experts.

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