Technology professionals are seeing their share of layoffs, but overall, the market for their skills is robust. To keep it that way, industry experts advise getting out in front of the business.
While there has been a great deal of hiring freezes and layoffs in the tech sector, there will be continued demand for skilled technology professionals across the broader range of industries. That's because every company has become a software company, and tech is essential to survive and thrive in any type of economy -- especially during downturns. The focus is on automating to compensate for labor shortages, to gain greater control and transparency into supply chains, and compete on analytics and artificial intelligence.
Overall, the first two months of 2023 showed declines in total IT employment, according to IT staffing data from Janco Associates. "Based on our analysis, the IT job market and opportunities for IT professionals are there but not in as broad in scope as in 2022," according to M. Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Janco. "Layoffs, for the most part, did not hit developers. Rather they were focused on data center operations, administrative and HR roles related to recruiting, and DEI. Some roles, especially in telecommunications and data center operations are being automated and eliminated. Driving this is, CIOs and CFOs who are looking to improve the productivity of IT by automating processes and reporting where possible."
Companies will continue to hire coders and developers, Janulaitis says. "The highest demand continues to be for security professionals, programmers, and blockchain processing IT pros." Janco also reports that 2022 saw an increase of 267,000 new jobs added to the IT job market. Those new jobs were in addition to the 213,000 jobs created in 2021.
Still, recent data on tech employment shows a decline in current employment, but an increase in employer job postings for potential future hiring, according to an analysis by CompTIA. The tech unemployment rate fell to 1.5% in January, the most recent month available, reflecting continued high demand.
Industry observers say behind the headlines, many mainstream businesses are hungry for tech talent. "Individuals with advanced tech skills are driving businesses and economies forward to the tune of $6.3 trillion in global GDP annually according to research by Gallup and AWS," says Maureen Lonergan, vice president of Amazon Web Services Training and Certification. "As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the demand for people with tech skills will continue. Companies that have digitally savvy employees report annual revenues that are approximately 168% higher than companies without such workers -- and that's because technology is essential as companies look to keep up with the pace of innovation and remain competitive."
Technology professionals can open up many opportunities "if they start connecting what they do with visible profit," says Douglas Squirrel, an author, podcaster and consultant in the IT space. "And developing this superpower is much easier than you think."
Lonergan urges technology professionals to "look for ways to foster a continuous learning culture within your team to improve collaboration, creative thinking, and experimentation. There are so many resources out there, including hundreds of free cloud computing courses. The world needs your ideas!"
Many companies "are swimming in tech experts, but struggle mightily to find people who can select and deliver changes that actually reduce cost or boost revenue," Squirrel points out. "In fact, most tech professionals, at any level from CTO to newbie engineer, already do this unwittingly -- though regrettably, they rarely talk about it in those terms. Every time you think through an investment in a new database or login screen or testing regime, you can be explaining how this change will benefit customers or help operators or slash hosting costs. And you can fill your resume with these value statements for your past work -- I guarantee you'll look completely different from every other candidate out there."
Hiring managers "understand that tech-savvy employees can help their organizations increase productivity and efficiency," says Fredrik Nilsson, vice president, Americas at Axis Communications. "When it comes to hardware manufacturing and application development, offerings will continue to evolve, and new ones will emerge, requiring professionals with solid technical knowledge and specialized skill sets."
Initiatives or actions technology professionals should take to demonstrate their value to their businesses -- and keep advancing in their careers -- start with demonstrating "the value of their work through KPIs, ROI reporting and, when possible, tying their work to corporate objectives and the bottom line," Nilsson urges. "Additionally, as their company systems grow and new technologies are introduced, tech professionals can add value by documenting their work, standardizing processes and sharing knowledge."
Technology roles themselves are no longer limited to IT or development departments. "Companies across virtually every industry and of every size are going increasingly digital, and that means IT is moving from departments or topics into being an intrinsic part of how businesses function," says Lonergan.
Tech skills in demand extend beyond development as well. "There is a wide array of careers requiring various levels and types of tech proficiency in areas like marketing, finance, and sales," she points out. "We've seen non-tech individuals, from baristas to physical trainers, reskill themselves to become cloud professionals."