Competitive salaries necessary to attract and retain top IT talent

While starting salaries in many Australian companies will remain stable, the growing supply and demand imbalance for specialised and hard-to-fill IT roles will drive the rise in starting salaries — in NSW especially — writes David Jones, senior managing director at Robert Half Asia Pacific.

David Jones, senior managing director at Robert Half Asia Pacific

David Jones, senior managing director at Robert Half Asia Pacific

It’s an exciting time to be an IT professional; one in two Australian companies plan to increase salaries for their existing IT employees.

The outlook for 2016 is continued investment in innovation and transformation, as technology and the business environment become more complex and intertwined. Companies are on the hunt for IT talent, and staff retention has become a major business concern.

Salaries

With 93 per cent of Australian CIOs saying it’s challenging to find qualified IT professionals, those in possession of the much sought-after and niche skills are ahead of the competition when it comes negotiating the best salary offers, according to the 2016 Robert Half Salary Guide.

According to our independent survey among 1000 office workers (across various industries), 58 per cent of Australian employees say it's likely they are going to look for a new job in 2016. As a consequence, many IT specialists are likely to consider moving roles if they are offered a better remuneration package.

Wage growth for the tech sector will be strongest in New South Wales, followed by Victoria. As Australia’s economy transitions away from the resources sector, the recruitment market has lost some of its vitality — particularly in states where mining is a key employer — and this has had a stabilising effect on salaries for IT professionals, most notably in West Australian and Queensland.

What are the 5 golden IT jobs?

The top year-over-year increases in terms of starting salaries will go to the following IT professionals based in Sydney:

  • Business Intelligence Developer (+9%)
  • Infrastructure Manager (+9%)
  • ERP Functional Consultant/CRM Consultant (+9%)
  • Enterprise Architect (+7%)
  • (IT) Project Manager (+7%)
Read more: What kind of CIO do I want to be?

Not all companies rely on pay rises. Others rely on their brand, pay extra attention to work-life balance, or offer appealing career opportunities to attract top IT talent and gaining their loyalty.

Skills

The breathtaking pace of technological change makes it essential for IT professionals, from junior to senior levels, to stay abreast of industry developments.

The most sought after candidates are familiar with new software and hardware, have an understanding of emerging systems, and are able to confidently use devices and related applications. The growth areas for tech hiring are in cloud computing, big data, mobile technology and IT security.

As such soft skills for IT professional are increasingly in demand and 2016 will be no different. As always, IT professionals need to solve business problems but now they also need to communicate and sell those solutions outside of their own spheres of operation.

The most successful IT professionals will be those who build successful relationships with internal and external clients.

Business focus

Businesses no longer see IT as a cumbersome contraption they are obliged to have. Technology is now seen as an engine to support innovation and drive business growth. Comprehensive, measurable, data-driven understanding of business or as it is called Business Intelligence, as well as cloud technology are now the standard for growth-focused companies.

Retention

The 2016 arms race for IT talent doesn’t simply mean drafting in new recruits. Talent retention is a major concern for hiring managers, with 87 per cent of Australian CIOs saying they are concerned about losing their top IT performers. This reinforces the need for businesses to develop effective staff retention policies.

For skilled IT talent, 2016 is a year of opportunity. Business confidence is high across the sector, with 77 per cent of Australian CIOs confident in the national economy.

Those professionals looking for new challenges can expect to find market conditions favourable, while employees looking to progress in situ will find compelling support to convince management to invest more in their development – IT is the hotspot in today’s employment market.

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