Companies in Atlanta are engaged in a flurry of hiring. Among them:
- General Motors plans to locate one of its four IT innovation hubs to Roswell, just north of the city. About 1,000 jobs will be added there.
- AirWatch, a vendor of mobile-device management and mobile-security technology, plans a $4 million expansion in the area, more than doubling its local headcount by creating some 800 new positions.
- Health-care software vendor Athenahealth will invest up to $10 million in Atlanta, moving operations from Alpharetta and adding up to 500 new jobs.
- Ernst & Young plans to build an $8.5 million global IT center in Alpharetta, adding up to 400 new workers over the next five years.
- Infosys plans to expand its southeast hub and add 250 positions annually over the next few years. Business-process outsourcing, help desk and support jobs will be among those added.
“We’re very excited about it,” says Tino Mantella, president of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), of the recent announcements. “Even during the downturn, we’ve been growing in the number of technology companies and technology employees.”
What They’re Looking For
Atlanta-area companies are looking for everything from recent graduates to senior executives. “One thing they’re looking for is experienced talent that has built businesses — more C-suite types, CIOs, CTOs,” Mantella says. “We do have a growing number of entrepreneurs. Some of them have sold businesses. I think there’s 14 Fortune 500 companies — Home Depot, Coca-Cola and those. They’re spinning out people who create their own ideas. Again, that goes into that dynamic of seasoned leaders.”
Beyond that, companies are looking for people skilled in .NET, Java, SAP, C++ — systems engineers, analysts and application developers. Mantella says the sweet spot of experience is about five years.
In particular, he sees mobile-development skills as being in high demand. “Everybody has this push to mobile, even the payment-processing companies,” he says. “That makes people with mobile-design skills and mobile developers in high demand.”
And with Atlanta’s concentration of health-care IT companies, expertise in security and privacy is much sought as well.
IT services and financial services companies led hiring, according to a recent report from TAG, which also expressed concern about lackluster hiring during a period when new budgets generally mean an uptick. Uncertainty around sequestration and federal budget cuts could have many employers on the fence, it said.
According to TAG, the professionals in the most demand are:
- IT architects/consultants
- Systems engineers/support
- IT management
- Software development
- Systems administration
And the top skills:
Depth of Experience
Larry Williams, vice president of technology-industry development for the Metro Atlanta Chamber, says the biggest reason behind Atlanta’s tech growth is simple: “Talent.”
“People forget that Atlanta is a college town,” he observes. Besides Georgia Tech and Emory University, the city boasts 22 technical colleges preparing students for IT careers. Because of that, “We have a wide range of skill levels. There’s real depth here.”
Indeed, the Chamber projects that technology companies will invest more than $1 billion in Georgia over the next three to five years, focusing on areas such as mobile technology, digital media, network security, financial-transactions processing and health IT — some areas where it already leads.
“When you have strong clusters of companies like that, then you get other companies coming in to be part of that cluster and participate in the talent pool, collaboration — and sometimes direct competition,” notes Mantella.
Different Points of View
However, depending on your point of view, not all of the news from Atlanta news has been so rosy. Forbes ranked the city No. 16 on its list of “Most Miserable Cities,” citing traffic, home prices off 42 percent since 2007, and foreclosure rates among the highest in the country.
On the other hand, Georgia topped Dice’s recent list of the “stickiest” states — those where it’s the most difficult to lure IT workers away. It found only 37 percent of IT workers were willing to leave the area for a new job. On top of that, IT professionals there say it’s one of the best tech job markets in the country.