Flexibility is the theme of the current job market, Hays Information Technology's January Quarterly Forecast reports. With IT professionals each embarking on their own new directions for the new year and the usual influx of overseas staff to our summery shores, the recruitment agency expects there to be a rich and diverse pool of job seekers available to employers on the hunt.
Even with a healthy workforce, however, there is no shortage of IT work to be done. In continuation of 2006 trends, Hays has found that many organisations now want to invest in Web enabled applications and enterprise-wide systems, generating a demand for staff with .NET skills, C# skills, and ERP experience.
The public sector too is investing heavily in IT, Hays reports, with a strong demand for IT professionals across all technical areas, project managers, technical architects and people with Lotus Notes and Novell skills.
Impervious, overly-specific demands of employers have previously been a problem to job seekers. However, recent efforts to recruit high-demand talent have led employers to relax their requirements and offer more creative employment benefit packages, according to Peter Noblet, regional director of Hays.
"Some companies who have previously been very rigid in their candidate requirements are now far more flexible," he said. "They [some employers] might not be able to get the full skill-set that they need, but we certainly can work with them to try and find people with the relevant skills in other areas."
Noblet noted an increase in mature aged candidates employed. And while most employers have preferred to keep their intellectual property in-house by recruiting permanent staff, he said, there is still a demand for contract work.
But it's not exactly Easy Street for job seekers either. Despite the commonly touted skills shortage, candidates still need to convince potential employers of their abilities and cultural fit, and should expect to be remunerated realistically according to their experience, Noblet said.
"The candidate shortage has led many candidates to believe they will receive large salary increases from new employers to attract them to a new role or from their current employer to retain them," he said. "However, while salaries are expected to increase slightly, candidates should realistically compare their experience to their expected salary."
Noblet advises job seekers to research potential employers, and when applying for a job, outline not only their skill sets but also experiences and stand-out characteristics that demonstrate a reasonable cultural fit into the organisation, such as team leading and project management.
"Traditionally, IT people - even at a senior level - tend to list their skills and technical know-how," he said. "What they need to start looking at is how that reads to a potential prospective employer, and therefore [they] need to pull out some of their softer skills and achievements as well."