Tech Hiring Expected to Slow Down in 2017

Being proactive, evaluating salary trends will help land IT talent

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer December 19, 2016
Tech Hiring Expected to Slow Down in 2017

U.S. employers are expressing caution about adding IT staff in the new year, according to two new surveys.

Just 16 percent of U.S. chief information officers (CIOs) said they planned to expand their technology teams in the first half of 2017, down from 21 percent in a similar survey for the second half of 2016 and 22 percent in a survey for the first half of 2016, according to the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Forecast.

The biannual survey is based on interviews with more than 2,500 CIOs from 25 major U.S. markets who were asked to provide a six-month hiring outlook.

Nearly 7 in 10 respondents (69 percent) stated that they planned to hire only for open IT roles. Twelve percent said IT hiring will be put on hold, and 2 percent said they would reduce technology staff.

"For technology executives, the start of a new year often prompts the reassessment of teams, technologies and potential vulnerabilities," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing services firm based in Menlo Park, Calif. "IT leaders are bringing on full-time staff strategically and focusing on key business priorities, such as enhancing enterprise tools and strengthening IT security."

[SHRM members-only toolkit: IT Staffing]

In another survey of employers, government agencies and recruiting firms conducted by DHI Group, a provider of specialized job boards and hiring data, the number of managers who anticipate hiring technology professionals in 2017 dropped 10 percentage points from 2016 to 68 percent.

Across all industries, 56 percent of hiring managers said they anticipate increased hiring levels for all positions in the new year, representing a five-point drop from 2016.

Respondents were 618 hiring professionals who recruit for a variety of industries and 785 who said they recruit for technology positions.

Recruiting for IT Remains a Challenge

Sixty-one percent of CIOs in the Robert Half survey said it's "somewhat challenging" or "very challenging" to find skilled IT professionals today. They cited the following skills as being in greatest demand within their organizations:  

  • Database management (44 percent).
  • Desktop support (42 percent).
  • Network administration (42 percent).
  • Cybersecurity (41 percent).

IT positions are also taking longer to fill. Half of tech-focused hiring managers in the DHI survey said the time to fill open positions has lengthened from 2015.

"Finding the right candidates for the right positions continues to be a challenge for America's hiring managers as demand for highly skilled professionals creates tension and competition among employers," said Michael Durney, president and CEO of DHI Group.

With competition for tech talent so fierce, 77 percent of tech hiring managers said that sourcing passive candidates is more important today than it was one year ago.

"It's becoming increasingly important for employers to have a proactive approach to attracting candidates, one that goes beyond reacting when a position becomes available and extends to building a bench of talent and having candidates at the ready, year round," Durney said.

He added that companies are missing a big opportunity when they don't evaluate salary trends and make adjustments to attract candidates with higher wage expectations. More than half of recruiters across industries said they could not fill positions due to salary guidelines, up 8 percentage points from 2015, according to the DHI poll.

"While some employers fail to stay current with rising salaries, savvy recruiters who keep up with changing market dynamics come out ahead and land top skilled talent," Durney said.

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