IT jobs by the numbers: 13 telling stats

It’s an IT job seeker’s market right now, especially for cloud and security pros. Job hunters and hiring managers, take note – and look what’s coming in 2019
425 readers like this.
desk IT talent help wanted

From start to finish, 2018 was a good year to be on the IT job market, particularly for tech professionals with certain skill sets.

“We started and ended the year with a high demand for talent, and a lot of that demand was in the cloud, security, and digital transformation areas,” says Ryan Sutton, district president for Robert Half Technology. “In today’s digital environment, every company needs a strong technology team, even if they aren’t considered a ‘tech company.’”

[ Which of today's IT roles are vanishing? Read  4 dying IT jobs. ]

This has forced hiring managers and recruiters to add new strategies for finding, hiring, and retaining talent, Sutton notes.

“With so many open positions in the tech job market and few professionals to fill them, organizations learned quickly that they can’t use the same strategies for recruitment and retention that they have in the past,” Sutton says.

4 must-have IT talent recruitment tactics:

He notes several tactics that saw increased attention and use in 2018, including:

  • Shortening the hiring process: Sutton says this makes a noticeable difference in a job market where in-demand IT pros often field multiple offers.
  • Broadening or loosening skill requirements: There aren’t many “purple squirrels” on the market, so hiring managers who are open-minded about their “perfect” candidate stand a better chance.
  • Offering flexible and remote work opportunities: Expect this trend to continue in 2019.
  • Healthy corporate culture and improved perks: Salary is a big deal, but it’s not everything. Culture and on-the-job perks and amenities matter, too. “Organizations realize they need to improve their company culture and market themselves as a great organization so professionals want to work for them and stay on board,” Sutton says.

And yes – increasing compensation will help, too; it’s part of the reason 2018 has been a good year for IT pros on the market.

[ Be prepared for that next opportunity: IT jobs: 10 must-reads for job hunters. ]

A bevy of data out there tells these and the other job-related stories of 2018. We dug up 13 stats that recap the year that was for IT hiring managers and job-seekers alike – and preview what’s to come in  IT jobs in 2019.

IT jobs outlook: Security stays hot

252,000: The 2018 average number of new job postings every month for core technology workers across the U.S. economy, as of the end of November, according to CompTIA. Employers posted 273,980 new job listings for core technology workers in November.

13,500: The number of net new jobs in the technology sector alone in November. According to CompTIA, that growth is driven by demand for talent in IT services, custom software development, and computer system design – as it has been throughout 2018.

2.4 percent: The unemployment rate for IT occupations in November 2018, according to CompTIA and Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

3.7 percent: The national U.S. unemployment rate in November, according to BLS.

95 percent: Nearly all (95 percent) of IT leaders surveyed by Robert Half earlier this acknowledged they’ve made a bad hire in the past.

38 percent of IT execs chalked up bad hires to a technical skills issue.

38 percent of those IT execs chalked up those bad hires to a technical skills issue. It turned out the person they brought on wasn’t actually able to do the job as expected.

39 percent of IT leaders in the same survey said technical skills are the toughest thing to accurately gauge in the hiring process, while 37 percent listed corporate culture fit and 23 percent said soft skills were the most difficult to assess.

313,735: The number of new cybersecurity jobs posted by private and public-sector employers between September 2017 and August 2018, according to data from CyberSeek.

715,000: Those were net-new positions on top of the 715,000-plus cybersecurity professionals already employed in the U.S., according to CyberSeek. “Increasingly, governments and business are working to build better defense against cyber attacks, but training programs are simply not producing enough cybersecurity talent to keep up with demand and to keep data-driven enterprises safe,” said Matthew Sigelman, CEO of labor analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies, one of the organizations behind CyberSeek, in a press release.

2.3: The ratio of currently employed cybersecurity professional to open job positions. Compare that to a national average of 5.8 currently employed workers to open job postings across all occupations in the U.S. Burning Glass notes this as a signal of a tight labor market; further, a low ratio of existing talent to open positions means it’s harder for hiring companies to lure existing security talent away from other employers.

71 percent of state CIOs said hiring and retaining security and privacy talent is a problem, according to The 2018 State CIO Survey from NASCIO.

[ Read our related story, How one CIO thinks outside the box to fill cybersecurity jobs. ]

Cloud skills are the top reskilling area, followed by security.

90 percent of IT leaders surveyed recently by Robert Half Technology said they are “upskilling” or training current employees on their most pressing IT skill needs. Cloud skills are the top reskilling area, followed by security. Sutton notes that this kind of investment in your current team is also an effective talent retention strategy.

“Another trend we saw this year to combat such a tight hiring market – and improve retention – was investing in current employees,” Sutton tells us. “Organizations will train their current staff on the skills and technical abilities needed in a specific role, which both improves team engagement and fills skills gaps.”

63 percent of companies included in Robert Half’s latest hiring research said they plan to expand their technology teams in 2019. Sutton notes this means IT employers will almost inevitably continue to get more creative in their search for the right people. “This trend will definitely continue into 2019, and we’ll likely see companies looking for more new and unique ways to recruit and retain talent,” Sutton says.

[ Arm yourself for IT job interviews with winning tactics and relevant data. Get our new eBook: IT job searching in 2019: A practical guide. ]

Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a variety of publications. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his story, "Are You Too Old For IT?" He's a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards.