It’s a job-seeker’s game: Why IT candidates are driving the job market

The level of demand for candidates to fill specialist IT roles gives them more opportunity to find the position they desire, writes Andrew Morris, director at specialist recruiter Robert Half

The war for talent is on, with IT candidates set to drive the job market in 2016. Confidence in the economy, ambitious company growth plans and technology advancements are driving demand for skilled IT professionals.

The outlook for economic growth in 2016 looks good. So say IT leaders across Australia, when interviewed as part of the latest independent survey commissioned by the author’s employer and specialist recruiter, Robert Half, on job trends, talent management and workplace trends.

Seventy seven per cent of Australian CTOs and CIOs are feeling positive about the potential for growth in the Australian economy in 2016, and a further 87 per cent were confident in the growth prospects of their own company.

This paints a positive picture for skilled IT professionals looking for their next big role. A surge of jobs coming onto the market in the next six months looks likely, with 48 per cent of technology leaders looking to expand their technology teams with extra permanent positions in the first half of 2016.

Medium-sized businesses are the most optimistic about company growth, with 51 per cent looking to add headcount to their teams. 41 per cent of IT leaders will look to maintain staff levels by filling existing positions that come up. One in ten won’t replace headcount if an employee leaves their position, while only 1 per cent will look to reduce their teams this year.

What’s driving the change? Business confidence is high, and company growth plans are ambitious. And the need to fuel this growth means companies are gearing themselves towards innovation, new technology advancements, service expansion and system implementation.

According to Australian CIOs and CTOs, the key drivers behind the increased number of IT positions include business growth or expansion (54 per cent), new projects or initiatives (43 per cent), product or service expansion (38 per cent) and IT risk and security. This increases the demand for additional specialist IT skills as leaders are eager to implement new strategies.

However, what is good news for IT candidates brings challenges for technology leaders, with 93 per cent of CIOs/CTOs concerned about finding skilled IT professionals to fill new roles. The roles that pose the greatest challenge to technology leaders are roles in data/database management (17 per cent), software development (15 per cent), networking (13 per cent) and IT security roles (11 per cent).

It’s a niche market. As many as 37 per cent of CIOs and CTOs cite finding technical niche experts their biggest challenge, with ‘demand outstripping supply’ (31 per cent) as their next key concern. There is an abundance of opportunity for highly qualified IT professionals with niche skills, which puts the onus on companies to devise competitive strategies to attract and retain top talent.

In a candidate driven job market, staff retention is another key concern. 87 per cent of IT industry leaders are concerned that they will lose their top talent to competitors.Businesses will be under increased pressure to retain their staff, to ensure that corporate knowledge stays within the business and the company culture is maintained.

Finding and recruiting the best and brightest is a key priority for businesses as they gear themselves towards achieving significant growth. And with that, retaining top talent has never been more challenging.

The potential for skilled IT candidates has never been greater; the current state of play means more opportunity to find the role they desire, and more leverage to demand the position they want.

Andrew Morris — director at Robert Half — is located in Sydney managing the New South Wales, Queensland and New Zealand businesses.

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