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An Early Look at 2019 IT Staffing Trends: How to Prepare Your Company

Assessing and adapting to staffing trends can help businesses hire more strategically and use their resources more effectively. This is especially important for IT-related positions, as competition continues to grow among employers for these candidates.

Tricia Dempsey is the president of Agile, a Georgia-based IT staffing company focused on speeding time to talent. She offers the following advice about the national IT staffing trends likely to affect employers over the remainder of the year and into 2019.

1. Tax Reform Will Lead to More Hiring for Full-Time Positions

Based on opportunities afforded by recent changes to the U.S. tax code, companies will expand and accelerate their staffing efforts. Private businesses in a recent PWC report expected to receive an average 5% increase to their bottom line. Their leaders also anticipate continuous economic growth for the next 12 months. As a result, many of these companies are investing their dollars in human capital.

These moves coincide with the IT staffing trends that Agile has seen. The employers we support tell us that having more cash on hand means more confidence in hiring full time and paying higher salaries. As a result of sunny economic forecasts and larger coffers, companies are also converting more of their contractors into permanent employees.

Recommendations for Employers

While economic growth is a boon for many businesses, it may also present obstacles. For one, new employees are likely to earn more than existing workers. This is because high competition for talent is driving up salaries at every level, a trend that Monster covered earlier this year. Despite these higher salaries, new team members may have less experience or training than a current employee in a comparable role. Also, since businesses are converting contractors to full-time employees, the talent pool is shrinking even further.

As your company hires candidates, consider how you will develop new employees while retaining your existing workers. In the latter case, we recommend that companies work to cultivate leaders and managers from among their current talent.

Job seekers tell Agile’s recruiters that the biggest reason they want to leave their company is that their boss isn’t supportive. Good leaders can help you keep good people. Identify these internal candidates, develop their soft skills and managerial skills, and allow them to grow. This will let them to earn a larger salary while contributing more to the company’s productivity.

2. IT Unemployment Will Remain Low With the Rising Demand for Talent

The growing gap between the number of open IT positions and the number of professionals to fill them will continue to challenge employers in 2019:

  • Companies are experiencing high turnover rates as their talent leaves for new opportunities and better salaries. Early in the development of this trend, Forbes wrote about the increasing number of passive candidates being recruited through social media. Today, Agile’s IT recruiters are seeing fully employed professionals get up to five calls a week about jobs at other companies.
  • Even when IT professionals are on the job market, they are not always in a hurry to find a full-time position. Many rely on lucrative and flexible contract work while they wait for the ideal employment opportunity.
  • Companies have been raising their salaries to attract new talent and, in many cases, to retain existing employees. This often occurs even if a professional’s experience or skill set doesn’t warrant the bump.

These IT staffing trends will require employers to pursue candidates and to manage existing talent in a more nimble and strategic manner.

Recommendations for Employers

When considering candidates for a position, consider how to expedite the hiring process. Based on Agile’s experience in Atlanta IT staffing, your company will likely will lose a software engineer to a different opportunity if you don’t make an offer within five days of the initial contact. Try to create a hiring experience that is effective but uncomplicated so that candidates don’t sour on the position, and train interviewers to not only screen candidates in the interview but also to sell candidates on the job and company.

In addition, explore new ways to retain your current IT staff. One of the best options for this is to invest in their training. Employees will appreciate the chance to keep their skills up-to-date and marketable, and your business will benefit from their improved capabilities. You can send them off-site for professional development, offer access to online courses, or even host area experts for training at your office.

3. Developers Will Hold a Significant Advantage in the Talent Market

Based on the IT staffing trends we’ve experienced, careers in software engineering will be among the highest earning through 2019. As a profession in great demand and with low supply, job-seeking developers will continue to have leverage with potential employers.

At Agile, we see about eight jobs for every developer candidate on the market. This is driving up salaries and catching some employers off-guard, since the compensation that they used to offer for a certain level of experience no longer matches up. Some of the roles most in demand include:

  • Mobile developers.
  • Web developers.
  • Desktop developers.
  • Platform developers with expertise in JavaScript, .Net, Angular, React, Drupal, and Ruby on Rails.

Agile’s software engineer recruiters offer a more detailed exploration of this issue.

Recommendations for Employers

Consider options beyond base compensation that can attract and keep talent. Despite IT staffing trends that have given leverage to job seekers, lifestyle perks and a great company culture can often win over candidates, even with a somewhat lower salary. This might include a flexible schedule, social activities, on-site workout facilities, or free lunch options.

Work opportunities matter just as much. Many companies segregate technical staff into a team for maintaining legacy systems and a team for developing new applications. Other companies code in programming languages that are no longer state of the art. Developers who are working on older systems day after day or who are not gaining experience in new programming languages may begin to look for opportunities elsewhere.

One solution is to allow employees to take on different types of assignments throughout the year, either through a regular rotation or with a special project adjacent to their other responsibilities. Another is to give employees training in new programming languages and to have them explore ways to apply this training to the company’s projects.

4. Immigration Law Changes May Lead to an Increase in Full-Time Hiring

Since the expedited processing ban on H-1B visas in the United States has been lifted, companies have shown a renewed interest in hiring foreign workers for specialized projects. Some of these businesses had previously relied on offshoring, an option that often presents challenges with quality and coordination. Now that the H-1B talent pipeline has been renewed, we may see companies moving away from offshoring in greater numbers and instead hiring specialty foreign workers for full-time positions.

Recommendations for Employers

Companies should continue to monitor IT staffing trends related to H-1B legislation. Still, now is a good time to explore your options with H-1B workers if you require candidates in specialized skill areas. Moving talent in-house rather than offshore can help your organization reduce friction in its operations and build its internal capabilities. Track the performance of your H-1B employees over time to ensure that they are providing a return equal to hiring local candidates.

If your company chooses to stick with offshoring for the time being, explore ways to make the system more effective. Strengthen your company’s internal systems to improve quality and deliverables. Some options include:

  • Developing better communication with your provider, both in terms of clarity and frequency.
  • Strengthening contractual language to define deliverables more clearly.
  • Choosing a hybrid approach of onshoring and offshoring. In this system, a local contact would provide oversight, management, and communication with your business while other aspects of work take place internationally.

5. Emerging Technology Could Radically Alter the Talent Market

New technology has the capacity to change the way that employers source and acquire talent. As an example, companies may be able to use artificial intelligence (AI) tools to predict which candidates will be best for a position. This may make screening candidates simpler and more efficient.

Technology has already given rise to the gig economy and has heavily influenced IT staffing trends as a result. A recent study by Intuit predicted that 43% of American workers would be gig employees by 2020. Independent contracting is likely to become more prevalent and more targeted as tools allow employers to search for IT talent with greater specificity.

Recommendations for Employers

Keep in mind that, a few years ago, forecasters thought that “big data” would completely change the way that companies found and hired their staff. While technology has contributed in some important ways, the core of recruiting and employing talent remains the same. There is still an essential human aspect to the process and a degree of expertise, instinct, and trust that software hasn’t replaced.

This doesn’t mean your company should ignore the opportunity that technology offers or disregard the advantages of contract hiring. Consider having a committee investigate new tools for predictive hiring, and do a pilot project that you can evaluate. Look for areas where just-in-time hiring may make sense, and see if that approach works for your business.

Capitalizing on Opportunities and Reducing Risk

Each of these staffing trends — from rising salaries, employee turnover, and growing competition for skilled workers to changes in where and how businesses source talent — has the potential to help or harm a company. The difference in whether your business rises with the trends may come down to planning and implementation. Partnering with an IT staffing firm can help you build and maintain the right team at the right time. You can also benefit from all of the resources and expertise that a company like Agile offers.

To learn more about how IT staffing trends may affect your business’ hiring plans, get in touch with Agile’s recruiting experts.

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