The Future of Tech Recruiting Starts Now

Machine learning and container technology are two developments to watch

By Catherine Skrzypinski Jun 10, 2016
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SEATTLE—Tech recruiters need to keep an eye out now for trends that will be hot in the 2020s, thought leaders said June 7 at the 2016 Talent42 Tech Recruiting Conference.

“Demand for tech talent is at an all-time high,” said Bob Melk, president of tech career hub Dice, during his presentation on the future of tech recruiting. But the hot skills of the moment might be passé five years from now. Software engineering is changing, so tech recruiters need to be prepared now to spot future trends in target candidate profiles, said Scott Ruthfield, founder and CEO of Rooster Park, a software development and staffing consultancy in Seattle.

“Hire engineers who can learn with intent,” Ruthfield advised. In order to anticipate what skills will be needed in 2021, hiring managers should be following the technologies developing now.

Tech Employment Outlook

The overall unemployment rate in the technology field dipped as low as 2 percent in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The competition for tech talent today is undeniable,” Melk said. “Demand for skilled talent and low unemployment rates for tech professionals aren’t making the hiring landscape any easier.”

Meanwhile, a 2015 salary survey by Dice found that the average technology salary in the United States experienced the biggest year-over-year leap ever, up around 8 percent, to $96,370 a year.

Tech salaries in seven U.S. metro areas reached six figures for the first time, Melk added. Silicon Valley in California leads the pack for the six-figure salary, while other top-earning markets can be found on both the East and West Coast. Not traditionally known as a tech hub, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area—home of Target Corp.—cracked the six-figure pay ceiling for the first time.

Tech Skills in Demand Right Now

Recruiters in the tech space should learn how to take a data science approach when evaluating talent, as this is critical to get access to the best data and tools in order to find the right candidate, Melk explained.

According to Dice’s data scientists, the current in-demand skills are the ability to use DevOps practices (DevOps is a culture in which software developers and the IT operations side work together to solve problems), front-end development, cybersecurity and “big data.” Popular programming languages in 2016 include Java and Python, Melk added.

2 Tech Trends to Watch

Ruthfield discussed up-and-coming tech skills that should be on recruiters’ radar, including:

  • Machine learning: a branch of artificial intelligence where computer programs can teach themselves to grow and change when exposed to new data. Machine learning can be applied to big data, he said. Real-life innovations that currently employ aspects of machine learning include Echo, Amazon’s voice-activated speaker; Skype Translator, a real-time translation tool; and FindFace, facial recognition software.
  • Containers: a solution to get software to run reliably when moved from one computing environment to another. Docker, a container technology, can pack several applications onto a single server.

Cloud providers are moving quickly with both machine learning and containers, Ruthfield added. “Developers should take advantage.”

Catherine Skrzypinski is a freelance writer in Vancouver.

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