Dice Report: Employers Say Good Tech Talent is Still Hard to Find

The competition for technology talent continues to escalate, despite a surge in hiring that has pushed the tech unemployment rate below 4 percent. According to nearly 900 hiring managers and recruiters that source, recruit and hire IT professionals, 65 percent anticipate hiring more technology professionals in the second half of 2011 than the preceding six months.

Dice LogoThe growth has reached a level where positions are staying open for months due to a shortage of qualified technology professionals. Of those respondents who report the time to fill a position is lengthening, 63 percent attribute talent shortages as the primary reason, which compares to just 46 percent who felt that way six months ago.

Hiring managers and recruiters located in the East and Midwest were particularly mindful of local tech talent shortages, as about two-thirds of respondents from those areas are hiring IT professionals from outside their local talent pool to try and satisfy demand. The most difficult positions to fill today? In the East, it’s Java, mobile developers, SAP, security clearances and .Net, while the Midwest adds Sharepoint to the list.

The tighter market is having an impact on the pay front — nearly half (47 percent) of hiring managers and recruiters noted pay was slightly or significantly increasing for new hires, up from 29 percent six months ago.

“Technology professionals are the basis for innovation, efficiency and creating an agile
workplace,” said Tom Silver, SVP, North America of Dice. “Now is the time to ask for more money.  Negotiate hard at the outset of a new job because that initial salary may set the base for the next three years.”

One-third of corporate recruiters (34 percent) anticipate tapping outside resources to find tech talent more frequently in the second half of the year than the previous six months, that’s up from just 29 percent in November. And, companies want to hire technology professionals with experience. Six to ten years of IT experience is the most prominent choice, followed by two to five years and then by professionals with 10 years or more of experience.

For more, see the full Dice Report here.

No Responses to “Dice Report: Employers Say Good Tech Talent is Still Hard to Find”

    • Shantal

      Years ago I successfully performed with a number of skills I had almost no or zero experience in. The manager knew I was bright (not to brag here) and he assumed that I might be able to learn these skills. His intuition served him well and I did indeed perform as he anticipated. I believe that people can do quite a lot when they are given a chance. The trend seems to be moving away from utilitizing the ample local resources of many bright people we have right here to save the company money. I personally would not spend one red cent with companies inline with this trend. Their stocks are going down? Hmmm…. that’s really too bad. I am now re-training in a different field, one that needs my level of innovation and creative thought process much more. Perhaps one day it will be missed, but I’m not looking back.

    • There is no such thing as training. Employers demand employees who will jump out of a box and perform just as well on Day 1 as someone who has been with the company for 10 years.

      I have a degree in Mathematics & Computer Science, and it is worth nothing. I wish I had never gotten this degree.

      • Interesting comment! My undergrad degree is in the fluffiest of fluffy – Communications. And I have the lousy student films to prove I needed to do something else. I’ve wondered if I would have done better with a science based degree, but apparently regrets are not limited to those with fluffy degrees. Anyway, I went on to the financial side of the film biz and eventually financial software. I got hired by a firm during the boom in 2007 – an actual boom where the 4% figure might have been real. I was hired by them because they needed trainable talent. And I picked up my actual software training from them. They trusted in me and I returned it by giving much more than needed on our projects. It works and it can happen, given the proper leadership.

    • Joseph

      Companies are not willing to spend a dime extra to upgrade their own employees’ skills let alone a dime for a new candidate. They only want someone they can exploit immediately.

  1. I have top skills in fields of security and managing windows servers. Yet because of a disorderly conduct ticket (seven years ago) I the companies automatically assume I am a felon. It is the lowest of low. A speeding ticket is more sever than the ticket I got.

    Maybe if these companies were not so harsh on people like me then they would not be short.

      • Shantal

        Hmmm…. perhaps competent hiring managers are also hard to find. If they can’t find qualified tech talent in this massive pool of unemployed computer science graduates…. it kind of does beg the question. What consitutes effective managerial talent? Perhaps if they did have effective tech talent that they are afraid to hire, then their company search engines would be capable of intelligent search as opposed to keyword based search. To me there is an obvious cause and effect relationship, especially given the evidence (ample evidence) of the existence of unemployed and fully qualified local personnel in the IT field.

  2. Lance Patrick

    If 37+ years of experience cannot fill any position in the IT world then the problem is not with the candidates but with the inexperienced hiring managers. Good luck trying to get past the current group of HR Professionals.

  3. First I object to the characterization of “Tech Jobs” being synonymous with IT jobs, since I am an electrical engineer and not what anyone would consider an IT professional. I cannot say whether what the IT recruiters reported to Alica Hill is true. I can say that there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. Hiring managers are being unrealistically specific about required skills. Adjacent skills are not sufficient and even a couple of weeks of required learning curve will cost you an opportunity. In electrical engineering and embedded software, there are just not that many opportunities. I happen to have landed recently on a project that was staffing up in a big way. I got in early enough to help with the recruiting process. What I have seen is that we are getting responses from all over the country and have brought people to Atlanta from as far away as Washington state. I did not speak to anyone that did not show high interest in the positions and that vast majority of our offers have been accepted. These are not particularly high-paying positions. The work is not cutting-edge. The company management seems typical of large-scale enterprises which is to say a little kooky. None-the-less, everyone we have pulled in seems glad to have the job.

    I am not sure why Dice feels the need to put a rose-colored glow on their report of industry conditions, but this report does not match my experience at all.

  4. The problem is that employers are unreasonable in their expectations. Most job openings advertise a laundry list of so many requirements that it would be impossible for ANYONE to know it all no matter how much experience you have. If someone has 10 years of software development experience, then they should have the skills to pick up new technologies quickly and what matters is your track record and what kind of employee you will be (ethical, hard working, honest, etc). Knowing a specific technology (that might take you a week to learn) should not be the deciding factor of whether or not you get hired.

    • This is the H1-b “qualifier” process. The employer already has a foreign national in the position, but has to “prove” there is no “qualified and interested citizen” in order to approve the needed paperwork to keep the foreign national in the position at the existing slave-labor rate. I have seen this from the inside of a now-defunct company.

  5. Really? Where are these employers searching? Who are these employers? Are they running so-called “legacy” systems? Or, are they bleeding-edge startups seeking someone who knows only the programming-language-content-management-system du jour?

    According to the tech bloggers, I should be a shoe-in for a position almost anywhere: I have been told I communicate well both verbally and in writing; I have two business degrees (BS in Organizational Management, and MBA in Applied Management) ; I have more than 20 years of IT/IS experience in a variety of positions such as software engineer, system engineer, system administrator, network engineer, and technical support; I have a working knowledge of several programming languages and multiple operating systems on a variety of hardware from PCs to mainframes.

    So, again I ask; where are the employers searching, and who are the employers?

    • I think the answer to your question lies in the last sentence of the Dice article. From what I’ve seen, employers want people in their 30s with moderate experience, and if they can’t find those people, they look to beginners in their 20s before they consider employees aged 40+ (the people who actually have enough general experience to get the work done). They’re looking at the surface and not looking at all under it, and they’re looking at the small picture and not even seeing the bigger picture of what it’ll take to get their company through the next 5-10 years.

      And I agree, if Dice wants to continue to be thought of as a credible site for IT careers information, they need to comment on things like this instead of just parroting what corporate America puts out there. Companies can’t find the IT people they think they want and need because they’re lousy at hiring people and lousy at managing them if they do hire.

  6. Fred Bosick

    Well, it looks like DICE is well on its way to employing “cloud” technologies, that is having what amounts to a liberal arts graduate writing fluff articles toeing the corporate line that there is a shortage of tech professionals. Consequently, the government must subsidize training for these well-paying IT jobs, but for the short term, raise the H-1B limits to counter the innovation strangling tech shortage.

    Maybe it’s time to leave the cloud and search for some ground-truth; what’s been written by people actually doing the work, or trying to. There are plenty of posts in this thread and in the community area “refudiating” the 4% crap. What does DICE gain by parroting these falsehoods? Wouldn’t it be a boon for the company to be placing all these citizens into actual jobs and be known for doing so?

  7. Joseph

    I believe it is a combination of several factors. Perhaps the most notable one is the wide variety of programming languages and roles today. However, it’s important to make the point that there are a large number of IT professionals that are having difficulty cracking the “employment” code. If they are patient they will eventually find a job but because they are “too qualified” or “don’t have current skills” they are a difficult fit for today’s job market.

  8. Larry D.

    The employers simply want to much from one person; especially the large firms with 10K plus employees. They have an IT department but do not know how to manage each persons responsibilites appropriately. Some then free load while others are tasked with more and more responsibilites until it becomes unmanageable for a single person. If the pay was more equitable amongst the “Team” and each had a more defined role then finding the talent needed would be much easier. With the cost of certifications and the constantly changing product lines and versions of products no one can possible obtain the latest certs all the time and the companies do not want to help pay for training/certs so one ends up spending large sums of money and devoting large amounts of time to obtain the latest certs so they can stay employer friendly so in the end the salary received is dwindled down to the point where one may as well be just a desktop technician with limited certs and no large demands because the net pay in the end is the same.

  9. For the last year I have been one of the outsource technicians. Working conditions are awful, pay is -OK- kinda, and I’m still looking for another permanent gig. So I’ve been doing this kind of thing for thirty years on and off.

    So here’s my observation: Corporations have scads of capital – many of them from bailout moneys the feds gave them. They are holding on to it rather than investing in new staff. Partly because efficiency is up (techs having to do more with less – Bob Lewis of Keep The Joint Running newsletter Lean and Mean as Emaciated and Unpleasant.) They are deliberately not hiring qualified people – narrowly defining experience criteria so that practically nobody qualifies. Then they can go back to the H1B visa game they played last time.

    As a nationalist, I am glad to strip other countries of their best and brightest, but as a local tech pro, I’m aghast at the unfair competition.

    It would be useful to see a follow-up article with far more specifics, including interviews with those recruiters who can’t find us. And explain themselves.

    • Shantal

      I have to admit that if an article fails to back up a claim with substantive evidence such as names, dates, sources and numbers I find the claim to be rather doubtful and suspect. I too would like to see the specifics you are referencing and not just in generalist terms, in an effort to avoid broadly sweeping potential libelous or slanderous statements.

  10. a99weeker

    If I may offer a suggestion to DICE to research and for employers to consider… In my case, mainframe/COBOL development w/15+ years of experience. Now, if any US Citizen has one of these positions they are holding on to it like “grim death”. For myself, caught up in the R/E bubble back in ’08; laid off from a MF/COBOL contract job with 6-8 others. Since then, job searching YES, but also refocusing my skill set as i try to re-engineer myself into a web developer/coder.

    So here is the “problem”… it would be great if employers would offer training to a new hire who may not meet the technical language side at 100%, but who has potential and honest desire.

    Employer offers job to this person, puts the new employee through training to better support the system/applications they were hired in for (C#, C++, .net, etc).

    In return the employee AGREES to a 3-5 year contract that they will NOT leave the company (the old – got me some experience I want more money hopper) for that period such that the employer recoups the investment in the new Employee. Failure to do so will result in a required payback to the employer the costs for the training obtained.

    So, DICE… how many employers are “complaining” that the IT talent available is lacking the current-day skill set, desire to want to learn something new, the lack of “off time” during unemployment to try and obtain some new training?

  11. Extremely Disturbed

    Many (most, actually – Dice take note) of the other commenters have it right. Today’s corporate America does not have a CLUE about how to obtain, train (“train”??? What’s THAT??!!!) and maintain good employees. It’s all part of the mindless, next-quarter’s-profits-at-all-costs mentality that has been running rampant since the 80’s. I’m an old hand and I remember REGULARLY seeing I.T. job ads back in the 70’s and 80’s (that tailed off and basically disappeared in the 90’s) including O.J.T. aspects (opportunity to learn blah blah etc.). Now? Fuhgedaboudit. If you don’t have years of experience in the laundry list of specific skills for the particular job, your resume goes into File 13. Gosh, I’ve been waiting to rant about this for YEARS, and here it is – I’ll waste a good hour of my afternoon doing so.

    And why do they get away with doing that? Because then they can just go to their outsource/offshore company of choice in India and China and find a software developer WITH those specific skills (and in those countries they have literally MILLIONS of smart individuals intensively training on those skills just so that they can grab these jobs – a great strategy from THEIR viewpoint, right?), that they can pay a fraction of what they would have to pay an American citizen.

    Thereby helping to ultimately destroy this country just so that their top execs can get bigger year-end million and tens of million dollar bonuses because they cut expenses by doing so. “Destroy this country?” Too strong for ya? Well, guess what, when all of the big corporations in this country make a concerted effort to put millions of Americans out of work by giving those jobs to foreign nationals (whether offshored TO those countries or nationals who come here with H1B), you’re not only throwing all those millions of Americans out of work (which is bad enough), but you’re also destroying our citizen tax base AND taking all of the income that those American citizens would have and would be spending IN America, and creating a big sucking sound as most of that money gets funneled either directly to those foreign countries, or indirectly by H1B’ers sending a lot of it back to their countries.

    Understand that I am not some extreme nationalist or a bigot against people from other countries. BUT. Given the choice between financial, economic and hiring policies that BENEFIT Americans and this country versus those that directly and explicitly HARM this country, GUESS WHICH ONE I CHOOSE? I honestly DO NOT CARE about propping up or improving the quality of life of people in India and China if the policies that are doing so are also HURTING American citizens and the United States of America.

    For pete’s sake. At a “micro” level, does anyone choose to do things that would help their neighbors if doing those things are going to directly and seriously HURT THEIR OWN FAMILY? This has nothing to do with nationalism or “disliking furriners”. It is simply SURVIVAL. If it’s choosing between helping out people in other countries and their economies, or conducting ourselves in such a way that the people of America and OUR country is going to do better, then I CHOOSE MY COUNTRY, DARN IT. And if that means stopping already-massively-spoiled CEO’s from getting their disgusting salaries, bonuses and platinum parachutes for running their companies AND this country into the ground just to pad their own wallets and overseas tax-haven bank accounts, then SO BE IT.

    And I have a recent specific example to PROVE all my/our comments.

    I am recently unemployed. And after a few phone screenings, I went to an in-person interview at a large, national company with offices in my large city. I won’t name names, but it is a HUGE company with an instantly-recognized name. It is as recognized as Microsoft (sayin’ something, right?). They run commercials on TV every half-hour on every single major TV and cable channel.

    So I finish my (software developer job) interview with the team lead – who is an Indian foreign national H1B’er, by the way, although I initially let that pass and put on a good face – and was being walked out of the conference room back towards the elevators and we just happened to walk down a row of cubicles.



    And, just to be clear, it was pointed out to me that this was the area of the floor that was software development.

    Now, I REFUSE to believe that there are NO AMERICAN CITIZENS who could have been doing every single one of those jobs. At the very least, Americans who are either very experienced IT professionals with up to decades of experience, OR even recent computer science grads, that could have been hired and given a few months of OJT ala the 70’s/80’s to LEARN the particular skills/languages etc. and then been able to do a stellar job in those positions. Perhaps even a reasonable amount of relocation assistance to candidates from across the country to MOVE to the city with the jobs (ANOTHER thing that you used to see in America but not anymore).

    But NOOOOOOOOOOO. That company would rather just continue their short-sighted, truly stupid policy of hiring foreign citizens to do those jobs. Truly stupid because as I observed above, if American companies continue to do this kind of thing on a consistent, large-scale basis, don’t they realize that they are depressing our economy and the well-being of our citizens, and indeed, ultimately DESTROYING the very market that there is for their products?

    Oh, but I forgot. Those big fat CEOs don’t care because when they get through destroying the American economy they’ll just fly off in their Learjets or sail off in their big yachts with their billions of dollars and go live in Switzerland or somewhere else on the planet where they can live in their huge, gated private-security-guarded mansion compounds the same way they do right now in this country.

    Sound pissed? You bet I am. The huge corporations and billionaires in this country (aided by their stranglehold on our political system so that they can keep getting away with it) are relentlessly pursuing economic and hiring policies that are fattening their own wallets at the expense of the American economy, American citizenry, and our very way of life. And if nothing changes, everything will go down the drain. Great Depression of the 1930’s? Hmmmpphhh. You ain’t seen NOTHIN’ yet.

  12. An interesting coda to the “4%” discussion. I happened to swap emails with a recruiter today, on account of the stated phone number not working. This was a casual attempt at communication as I’m working now (apologies to the unemployed, I was among you 18 months ago.) The recruiter told me that he had to disconnect the phone due to the huge number of applicants for each position.

    Does that sound like a tight employment market to, well, anybody?

  13. It’s barbell. They want the high -end (COO,CEO,CIO,etc…) or the low-end (Do you want fries with that…) Those in the middle (Sr. Tech, Tech Leads, Mid-Management, etc…) are not wanted anymore. It’s crazy.