By: Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor, Monster Resource Center
To say that the recession has hit employers and workers hard is old news. The good news is that things are looking up. Economic indicators such as the Monster Employment Index show that the recovery is progressing, albeit at a measured but steady pace; Monster’s 2011 IT Job Conditions Report reports positive signs for the IT recruitment sector.
A bright spot throughout the downturn has been IT recruiting, a trend that goes back to 2009 when IT staffing was an early indicator of economic recovery.
Fast forward to today. To learn more about the latest IT recruitment trends, we turned to three industry experts who share their insights on IT hiring trends, in-demand technical skills, employee benefits and more:
Monster: How has IT recruitment performed of late in the slow-but-steady economic recovery?
Daley: The demand for highly-skilled IT professionals has picked up quite a bit, albeit somewhat unevenly across our geographic markets. We’re seeing clients applying a careful and methodical approach to requesting IT talent in that they are looking for very specialized skill sets related to emerging technologies like mobile app development, and they seek a 100% match to each of their requirements.
Deriot: It has performed well; 2010 was a good year for us.
O’Leary: The end of 2010 was extremely busy with an increase in demand for IT recruitment services in the fourth quarter. All indications are that it will continue. There was a “soft” start to 2011 due to the severe weather and its impact on actually having all parties present to fulfill hiring in the Northeast. February started at twice the results, so it’s safe to say the low unemployment rate in IT versus other professional skills will continue.
Monster: What technical skills are most in-demand in IT recruitment? Are these needs likely to shift as the year unfolds?
Daley: Right now we’re seeing a high demand for application developers. This field is without question “hot” and includes demand for skills in Java/J2EE and well as Microsoft .Net, Silverlight, Android operating system applications as well as VMware virtual applications. We’re also seeing a higher demand for functional roles such as business analysts and project managers. This usually indicates an increase in the amount of projects being scoped out and we anticipate this will lead to further increases in demand for IT talent as these projects are implemented.
Deriot: The skills required remain diversified. We offer good coverage of the different skills in demand, thanks to our dedicated team of recruiters spread across the country. Among the skills we see the most we find network systems and data communications analysts, computer software engineers, applications development, financial analysts. And this should remain in the near future.
O’Leary: We continue to see a steady demand for business analysts, project managers, software development resources and infrastructure. Many large projects are underway to catch up on stalled projects due to the recession. From a development prospective, the usual java and .net based skills are in demand; we are also seeing more Ruby on Rails and ERP-related skills being requested. Another trend we have seen is an investment in business intelligence as companies strive to make decisions of recent data versus historical trends. Nothing is real time yet, but advances in products through acquisitions have made BI tool suites more robust and attractive to the business community.
Monster: Is there demand for job candidates who have both IT and business experience?
Daley: Most definitely, this is the case as hiring managers try to maximize headcount by hiring professionals who have business-specific domain expertise and an ability to be hands-on in the client company’s IT environment.
Deriot: Yes, we have noticed this trend, even though it is not replacing all other profiles.
O’Leary: Business experience is certainly an added bonus for some; with more complex systems, it is becoming a required skill in many cases. Within certain industries candidates are more attractive who have prior knowledge of how and why a system operates and its effects “downstream” on each part of an organization. To do that you must have an ability to operate in both worlds. Technology professionals with this ability are in high demand, versus those who are more of a technical resource.
Monster: Has there been a significant shift in IT recruitment from full time to contract work?
Daley: In some of our markets, we’re actually seeing higher demand for full-time direct placement vs. contingent workers as a percentage of our IT recruitment activity, particularly when a client has requirements for hard-to-source talent. But for the balance of our clients, contingent workers are essential to their project-based activities since it’s easier to ramp up teams for new initiatives with contingent workers. This is particularly advantageous when time-to-market is important for new projects/products.
Deriot: Not that we have noticed.
O’Leary: During economic uncertainty, companies shift toward a flexible staff. Coupled with the nature of IT work being project-driven, we’re looking at a continued increase in temporary staffing. That said, companies have been running lean and we have seen an increase in fulltime hiring. This will continue as the recovery gains momentum. We have also seen an increase in requests for hiring through a temp-to-perm model, indicating that our clients are ready to start hiring internal headcount this year.
Monster: Are work/life balance options such as flex time and remote work still crucial to attracting in-demand IT candidates? Are companies offering other similar options?
Daley: I would say that offering work/life balance options are important but not necessarily crucial to our candidates since the job market is still in recovery mode from the recession and there are still large numbers of candidates seeking work.
That being said, more and more companies are seeing the benefit in terms of loyalty and retention of their existing talent by offering IT professionals the opportunity to work remotely and allowing flex time. Companies are also now encouraging informal learning by sending their top IT specialists to conferences connected with their specialty/domain.
Deriot: No, we face more and more situations where the client limits weekly hours to the 40-hour mark, with no overtime. In some way, it offers our consultants the ability to balance their work and personal life around those standard metrics.
O’Leary: This has been less of a perk to attract folks initially. Once you have become a reliable and proven commodity, some firms are still pursuing this practice. I think the recent weather has helped widened the use of these plans, if only temporarily.
Monster: What traditional benefits (health care, vacation, etc.) remain essential to attract in-demand IT candidates?
Daley: Certainly offering health care plan options plays an important role in a company’s ability to compete for top talent as our more senior IT candidates will most likely have family-related considerations. The same goes for vacation. It goes without saying that priorities change throughout our lives so it’s important that companies consider the changing needs of its workforce and offer a comprehensive and customizable benefits package. Benefits should never be a reason why someone who is valued would leave an organization.
Deriot: Salary remains a driving force, as we encounter a significant portion of candidates who prefer to opt out the benefits package as they are already covered by other solutions. That being said, the benefit package becomes a stronger differentiator when the projects or the missions are scheduled for a long period.
O’Leary: This has been a key differentiator for Sapphire Technologies over the years as we have always had a best-in-class benefits package available to our consultants. I would expect this to continue to be attractive to new hires. A benefits package is especially crucial to former double-income households who rely on one of the parties due to high unemployment in other sectors.
Volt Workforce Solutions
As president of Volt Workforce Solutions, Tom Daley is responsible for Volt’s global talent acquisition operations through a network of locations in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia. Volt provides talent acquisition in all skill categories with a strategic focus on contingent/temporary placement, professional search, Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), workforce management programs and payroll services. During three decades at Volt, starting in 1980, Tom has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth to one of the world’s largest staffing organizations. In 2001, he was named as an executive officer of Volt. Tom is very active in national staffing and has served as a member of the board of directors of the American Staffing Association since 2002. He was elected an officer of the ASA board in 2010.
Frederic Deriot is a results oriented leader and strategic developer with a successful background growing business units as well as elevating organizational performance through skillful restructuring. Effective in boosting P&L profits and impacting service value recognition, he believes in Customer retention and diversification in order to grow sales revenues. He is the CEO of Segula Technologies USA (ex Kenda), a $30 million, 300 people, IT engineering and staffing company, which is part of the Group Segula, a private company in engineering consulting of $600 million. There, he is boosting recruitment and sales by increasing focus on Clients and candidates, as well as rejuvenating the vision and ambition for the company. Prior to that, he was Director of North America for Altran Group, which included 6 different consulting businesses (Altran Corp., Arthur D. Little, Control Solutions International, Imagitek, SEA and Synectics.) Frederic is also a member of CCEF, a worldwide network of Commercial and Trade advisors for French companies expanding internationally.
Terry joined Sapphire in 1996 as a technical recruiter in our Woburn, MA office. After quickly learning the Sapphire process, Terry became one of the top producers in the Northeast. His immediate success resulted in an opportunity to further market-share for Sapphire. Prompted by Senior Management, Terry moved to Philadelphia in 1998 and established a local Sapphire branch. To date, Terry's start up holds the distinction of being the fastest growing branch among the Sapphire network of offices. As a result, Terry was promoted to Branch Manager in our Boston, MA office. The re building project began in 2002 and by the end of 2005 the Boston office became the number one office in the network. As a result of his continued success in every role he has held Terry was promoted to Regional Manager overseeing Boston, New York and New Jersey markets in 2009. Terry has instilled a sense of leadership and trust among his teams, along with a solid commitment to client service and a focus on quality. Terry graduated from Northeastern University with dual majors; he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Human Resources.