Dice Report: 5 Most Difficult-to-Fill Tech Roles

Hiring tech talent isn’t easy. Employers have to scour to find needle-in-the-haystack tech professionals, offer attractive salaries, and do it all while competing with the company down the street looking to do the same.

While recruiting for all tech roles is challenging, hiring managers told Dice in its recent hiring survey that these five roles are above and beyond the most difficult to fill. Nothing here is surprising, except that many of these positions have landed on our lists before, showing the problem has only grown over time as unemployment rates among tech pros shrink and every company hires tech talent to move the business forward.

Software Developers

While the role is broad, the work that software developers do is very specific and that’s to drive innovative initiatives forward. They’re the creators, and companies want them to design and develop software solutions to address business needs, solve real-world problems, and fix bugs, among other things.

Java Developers

Hiring managers were sure to draw a distinction between software developers and Java developers.

Security Professionals

No company wants to make headlines for being the victim of a data breach, which is why so many firms today are hiring tech pros with security experience to secure their systems. Companies are looking for a variety of professionals in this category, including those who can identify risk areas and others who can react quickly in the event of a hack.


We first began to see DevOps emerge as notable role in 2012; demand for the position has only increased as development and operations teams increasingly work together to shrink development time. There was concern the position would eliminate the role of System Administrators altogether, but that hasn’t happened (and won’t for the foreseeable future).

.Net Experience

Despite being an established skill in the tech world, Microsoft’s .NET software framework continues to be in demand, and related roles are hard to fill. Companies need tech pros with .NET experience who also understand the software development life-cycle, and can deploy custom applications while providing support once applications are in production.

The message to tech pros with .NET backgrounds: use this challenging market to your advantage and negotiate to get the ideal job that provides work-life balance, inspirational leadership, compensation and exciting challenges.

34 Responses to “Dice Report: 5 Most Difficult-to-Fill Tech Roles”

      • Luke galutia

        @Archie said: Agree 100%! I have also grown tired of the narrative there is a shortage of tech talent.

        Totally. i am a Linux system engineer with over 10+ years experience. i have been unemployed now for up to 6 months. no one is wanting to hire for any linux positions. Linux admin to DevOps positions should be the first line of finding DevOps people. we have major experience with the base OS platform in order to perform those roles. i think what it comes down to, is IT firms do want to invest time in bringing sys admins up speed with the new DevOps tools. i also think that the majority of people who hire for those roles, don’t know anything about linux, DevOps, or the difference between linux distros. i recently got turned down for a linux sys admin role, as my resume was “to Oracle Unbreakable Linux heavy, and not enough Redhat…” any one who knows linux, knows that Oracle Linux is a clone of RHEL. i could do the recruiters job, that statement showed me, that he could not do mine. lol

        • I posted a similar sentiment on LinkedIn addressed to mostly HR personnel and recruiters and was literally ignored on the topic. I stated that HR/recruiters need more training in tech for their roles (I suggested online courses) because they don’t know really know what is needed in job or industry. I was greeted with hems and haws. I believe that these people need to be replaced by knowledgeable techies or people with greater experience.

    • SF95070

      I agree with the others replying. This is really best stated as “there is no one who will take jobs that require skill and experience at the rates the companies pay their illegally gotten h1b candidates from 3rd world countries who have the training but not the experience”.
      I am a very skilled professional who can do any of the jobs listed, but I am not willing to work on a contract at $50/hr with not benefits and no protections.

      • luke galutia

        SF95070 said: “I am a very skilled professional who can do any of the jobs listed, but I am not willing to work on a contract at $50/hr with not benefits and no protections.”

        Here in oklahoma, they basically side with the corporations. there is a “At-Will Employment” mindset. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment) which puts companies in a position of power reguarding employment, and marginalizes employee rights.

    • Tom Karasch

      Absolutely Agree! I am a current .NET developer with 7 years experience in VB.NET Full Stack Development, 3 years LAMP Stack Development.10years Desktop and Network admin and support before that. I was laid-off in November and have been looking for employment ever since. BUT, since I have only 6months online training in C#/ASP.NET and every other skill (usually 10-15 other skills) required or Nice to Have, I don’t even get a face to face interview. Companies aren’t willing to invest in training, They just want more H1-Bs to cut cost. Not enough skilled people is a Big Myth.

  1. None of these categories are difficult to find. What is difficult to find are candidates with the match on combinations of very specific end-to-end systems, development frameworks and tool-chains company job specs tend to require and put out there, and which often contain some obscure components that are result of managerial poor decisions of the past. This tends to be quite ridiculous. You have tons of java developers, but when you require them also to have “extensive knowledge” in Informix DB, MQ Series, Jboss, Ext JS, ClearCase, TeamCity and IntelliJ and some esoteric Java libraries you will have hard time finding match hitting these exact “requirements”. And no manager wants to engage in “mentoring” and “coaching”, everyone wants candidates to hit the ground running on day 1.

    • You are right. Even if you have extra qualifications, then the candidate is “overqualified”. Some on these requirements are “just in case”. American companies need to broad their criteria acceptance.

    • WorkCynic

      That’s because they’ve already got a candidate or placement agency online, but they still need to act as if they are advertising the job and looking at a variety of people. If the job is super-specific, then the only choices are internal candidates, someone’s friend, or people whose placement agency included the skills on the resume anyway (without or without the knowledge of the candidate). I’ve seen jobs with stupid-specific requirements (all that and a PhD, too, for maintenance programming) for jobs that don’t pay enough to live on in the region. That’s not bad management. That’s avoiding candidates they don’t want in favor of the candidate they do want.

      • WorkCynic

        As a guest, can’t edit my own reply, so I’ll reply to me.

        There’s one more possibility – the job doesn’t really exist or need to be filled. The company is fishing around to see if the perfect candidate exists. If they find that person, they’ll hire or keep the resume for read. If not, no big deal.

    • luke galutia

      @Eric said: “no manager wants to engage in “mentoring” and “coaching”, everyone wants candidates to hit the ground running on day 1.”

      Right, i think most companies, at least here in Oklahoma City, only want to pay $50k a year for journeyman level experience. especially in gov contractor type positions. if they are requiring specialized experience, then employers need to be more accommodating with the requirements and training, or be willing to pay the price to hire exactly who they are wanting. not putting out a list of requirements like that, and then expect to pay $45k a year, and think that they are going to pull a kid straight out of collage with those abilities and experience.

  2. Joe and Eric are exactly right! There is more IT talent on the market then there are jobs. I’m a hiring manager, specifically a technical project manager, who hires resources in multiple technologies all the time. I’ve had no problem finding resources as long as you don’t expect your new hire to be superman on day one (i.e. know every nuance of technology your company uses). If someone has experience in your core need and in a variety of technologies, proof of their aptitude and has a temperament for taking guidance with initiative for getting the job done…you just found the right candidate! IT salaries, though may have had a recent bounce, have consistently decreased as compared to the past and the cost of living. Anyone who has been in the market for 20+ years has seen this delusion to the market due to foreign imports (H1B) and offshoring. Though I agree, we need additional talent outside the US to fill the demand, I do not agree with the quantity and the slave like nature of H1Bs, resulting in the decrease in competition (resource freedom to move) and the diluted resource market driving down salaries and rates. You couple this with Obama care premiums of $1400+ and $13,000+ deductibles, annual income has, in fact, been decreased by thousands for millions of middle class AMERICANS. Articles such as this one are misleading and only show one snippet of the big picture.

  3. 100% Agree. Same is true in Electronics Hardware Engineering. The list of “required experience” may have 50-100 items listed. In order to show a good match with a resume I have to show most of the various things I’ve done. With even short mention, 43 years of experience results in a long resume. I started with a short general resume but it got no hits. The bigger it got, the more hits. But in every case the conflict appears to be that my list is not exactly their list. The only solution would be to tailor each resume to each application, but the amount of time to do that is astronomical. Perhaps its time to write a program which would pull your experience descriptions from a database and populate a custom resume with it based on keywords and phrases found in a job description.

    At any rate, I think the source of the problem falls squarely on HR practices. Back when an Engineering/Programming Manager visually scanned resumes, his(her) experience allowed him(her) to process the candidates mentally on the fly, pick out the likely candidates, and choose one which would rapidly fit in and be effective in short order. If you’ve written code in over 40 languages of all types successfully don’t you think pick up another in short order? Sheesh!!!

    • The problem is with many companies that focus only on short-term gains. Hire someone who has limited-range experience to a specific task on day 1. Whether the person can expand to other tasks after a year is not their concern. They assume they can always replace with another who can start running for another limited range skillset, then replace and repeat.

      Basically, they don’t want long-term investment in human capital, because they would have to pay large salary for that, and there are some risk of hiring less than qualified person. Terms like “over-qualified”, “not has exact skillset” is all keywords to block any hiring of long-term investment.

      Of course there is the other problem of managers who were hired with limited-range skillset and got promoted. There is no way that such manager understands the long-term investment, and most probably feel threatened by “over-qualified” persons.

  4. I’ve been looking at resumes recently as I try to fill out some roles on my team. There’s no shortage of resumes I get that don’t even get a second passing glance, and primarily because of formatting. I have thrown out 15 resumes this week because half looked like copy paste, had key words in bold, were too long to read, had typos, or just didn’t make sense. Then there’s the other half where I could clearly tell the individual was lying or someone else wrote the resume.

    If you want the job, write relevant skills, no more than 5 descriptors of a previous job, and keep your sentences short, but thoughtful. I see a lot of folks in tech that could benefit from taking an English class at a local college to learn to convey their thoughts better. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just good enough that I don’t immediately throw it out.

    • Emmanuel

      “I have thrown out 15 resumes this week because …were too long to read, had typos, or just didn’t make sense”….and then “It doesn’t need to be perfect” You seem to be everywhere, full of contradiction no wonder why…ah ah ah ah ah ah…

    • Thanl you for your comment.
      I would like to share an experience. I had a technical background in an earth science industry, done graduate education and was being considered for a developer position in the financial services. I was hired. After 5 years I decided to take another position.,Before leaving, a senior manager of the program said to me that I had been an experiment. I obviously didn’t have the exact experience and some argued I would be too technical. He wanted to let me know that the ‘experiment’ was considered a success. I added-value to the program in a number of ways.

      Companies I see that are ‘keeping their eyes open for talent’ are the most successful ones,

      Good luck.

      • Reggie

        If you can’t add value and help the people who hired you to look good or outstanding — what’s the point. If brought on board the ship, don’t you want it to be the ship to win the America’s Cup.

        Go USA!!!

  5. Tarduvenjuns

    Lee has really summed it up well.
    I’ve been writing software for 30 years and it gets continually more difficult to find and keep a development job as your salary level increases.

  6. The talent exists, the “struggle” is when IT managers are forced to use the companies’ standard vendor rate cards to fill positions, or fit candidates within an outdated salary range, which invariably brings them resumes of inexpensive resources, yes, but resources that are under-qualified or not qualified at all. Managers need to be given the flexibility to hire the most qualified individual and not get push back on hourly rate or salary, as long as it is reasonable and aligns to what the overall market is paying for qualified resources. But using rate cards and salary ranges from 10 years ago and generic IT titles that equate to those ranges is a poor approach that pretty much guarantees a less-than-qualified resource will be delivered….

  7. The first question is, who is writing the job requirements.
    Sometimes I’be seen the requirements and technical interviews are being done by contractors. Many interviewers are not qualified to give interviews. Asking obscure questions to ‘qualify’ (or maybe just disqualify) candidates is a poor HR practice, imo.
    I have seen many contract (visa holders) that do not possess the same knowledge and experience that are being sought. But, they might have a network of people in their staffing company to rely on.
    At one time I felt that businesses were smart to augment their available talent pool by developing an access
    to other sources such as the visas system. But it seems now to be a system to hold down access to jobs and prevent salaries rising. It also seems that staffing companies are in the practice of building databases to offer or maybe restrict access to some jobs based on their own placement strategies.

  8. Looks like its easy to find a dumb/experienced developer that will work for intermediate wages. The great thing about experienced developers, I think…. is they don’t really know how much everyone else is making! Engineers are suckers! Now, go put your head down and do all the work. I’ll call you from the golf course to check if you’re done yet. Have a great weekend… working or learning to keep up!

  9. I have been saying these things for twenty years and the points have fallen on deaf ears.. I have 36 years of experience and a pHd. I think it is time for me to find my way out of IT. I have to pay taxes fees and other incidental costs to compete with those who don’t and then I am expected to train them. I have had enough. Thanks, my last post.

  10. The statement that there is no talent is a scam perpetrated by well-known companies who insist on paying rates and salaries equal to 1980 when the cost of living was 1/3 of the current COL.

    Suppressing the salaries is equal to getting slave labor. Shame. Can’t these IT behemoths share the wealth a bit?

  11. luke galutia

    Lee said: “I do not agree with the quantity and the slave like nature of H1Bs, resulting in the decrease in competition (resource freedom to move) and the diluted resource market driving down salaries and rates.”

    i think something that would put an end to that, would be a law that forces multi-national corps to pay positions abroad, the exact same rate, they pay here in the U.S. i think that the majority of corporations who do that, are basically partaking in labor slavery practices. it is knowingly taking advantage of impoverished nations who pay $5 a day to people, who if they were american would be earning $30 an hour. its slavery – plain and simple. all in the name of rampant “Corpatizem”. we need to make it an even playing feild.

  12. There seems to be more number of candidates available for jobs than the actual number of Java jobs. A techie that has over 20 years of experience still has to go through a phone screen just to be considered for the job. That implies there is a large pool of candidates available for fewer jobs.

  13. rich johnson

    Salaries for software developers have been at best stagnant for over a decade. If they really needed new talent than offer another few dollars to be competitive and see how many developers are “available” Got to import more talent….!@#@!@@#! h1-b’s are to augment not replace American workers.

  14. Michael Rose

    I agree with many of the comments — as a developer with lots of Linux experience through ” Sys Admin” type software (Perl, PHP, shell scripting), I had a poor rate of getting interviews for positions for which I am overly-qualified. And I am not really interested in “first line” support positions, or test positions.