Study shows tech pros are happy -- and that creates challenges for companies looking to hire

Tight market for technology skills is even tougher when people aren't looking to switch jobs.
Written by Bob Violino, Contributor

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Technology professionals are quite happy in their work -- and that presents both good news and bad news for employers, according to new research from Vaco, a firm that provides contract and direct hire recruiting as well as consulting services for a variety of fields.

The firm surveyed 493 technology professionals in the US at the end of 2017, including people with skills in areas such as big data and analytics, web development, open source, programming languages, information security, and database management. It found that a majority (73 percent) reported feeling "optimistic" or "extremely optimistic" about the job market this year.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) said they were "satisfied" or "highly satisfied" with their current job role, and about half said they were unlikely or very unlikely to change jobs in 2018.

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This state of general happiness and contentment among technology workers is a mixed bag for organizations that rely on such expertise, however. On the one hand, if a company has the technology talent it needs, it wants employees to be inspired and happy, said Ben Weber, Vaco's managing director.

But if a business is looking to hire people with select skills, and there is a limited supply of top technology talent that's interested in making a move, that puts the business in a tough spot, Weber said. "Your top talent will be courted and your options are fewer and fewer," he said.

Also contributing to the tight market for technology skills is that companies are getting smarter about their retention programs, according to the report. A majority of the professionals surveyed (82 percent) said they expect their employers to give them a raise this year, with no significant change in their job role.

How can companies looking to hire technology professionals compete in this kind of environment?

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Simply throwing more money at the problem is not a viable solution for finding and keeping talent in this kind of market, Weber said, and besides, it's not always an option. There will always be other organizations that can pay more, he said. And while the salary is an important factor in hiring, it's only a starting point for building a competitive offer.

A more effective strategy is to find out what people are looking for in terms of career goals and development and then focus on those areas when describing an opportunity. For hiring companies, that means considering the products, projects, and programs they're trying to complete and determining if they are inherently exciting, inspiring, disruptive, or transformational, Weber said.

"Are there opportunities for individual learning and growth?" Weber said. "If so, work with your talent acquisition team to build a narrative around these elements and evangelize it to potential hires."

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Vaco recommends keeping candidates' top priorities at the forefront when putting together a job offer. According to the research results, job seekers indicated three top concerns: Career development/advancement (67 percent of participants), higher salary (60 percent), and commute/proximity (59 percent).

Address career advancement paths and opportunities within the company during the job interview or even in the initial job description, Weber said. Research indicates that the younger generation is eager to visualize the long-term opportunity and value a position can bring them, if they decide to commit, he said.

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