Various local and global economic and social factors impact the employment market, and these will always ensure an ebb and flow between employer-driven and employee-driven markets. It is essentially a supply v demand model; the most highly sought after IT skills shift with market trends and needs, and what candidates look for in a job is often driven by current economic and social needs.
The post-pandemic landscape has brought a new dynamic to employment, however. Hybrid working models, geographically diverse talent pools, and a far greater focus on wellness and work-life balance have all added dimensions to the ‘traditional’ market shifts.
In the technology space, we’ve witnessed a unique but interesting additional element, linked to the accelerated digital transformation that companies experienced due to the pandemic.
As tech and digital recruitment specialists, we have had a front row seat to how digitalisation has outpaced skills available in the market for many years. Tech skills have always been in high demand. But with the increase in remote and hybrid work during recent times, IT employees went from important in organisations, to absolutely critical.
This created effects that are still shaping the market today. As we well know, IT teams were responsible for keeping organisations running with remote workforces and ever evolving collaborative technology. IT professionals were under pressure and quickly became overworked. The solution is equally easy to picture because we all went through it - businesses needed to hire more tech specialists. And so, already-scarce skill sets became scarcer. In some cases, tech specialists were hired for roles that included requirements beyond their current skill levels or experience out of sheer necessity.
The market then did what markets always do, it adjusted. When something is in demand, it becomes a valuable commodity, which means salary ranges increase beyond market norms. Nowadays, these salary ranges are naturally settling down. The good news is that niche IT skills like Cloud, DevOps, Data Science and Java or Python Development (to name a few) will always be in demand!
The first annual Jobs and Skills Report, Towards A National Jobs and Skills Roadmap, reveals that 70% of ICT professionals’ occupations are in shortage around Australia. It’s a skills challenge we have not seen in six decades.
On the other hand, there are IT specialists entering the market as projects come to an end, and many businesses over-hired during the pandemic. Similarly, with things slowing in line with economy, there is a process of ‘right fitting’ skills and experience to more senior roles.
It’s an interesting situation and one we are working closely with our customers and candidates to navigate successfully. Despite a skills shortage, employers are selective, focusing on hiring candidates with the right skills and experience that match the job requirements. In some cases, this has resulted in candidates having less bargaining power than they might have over the past few years - particularly for those who have not yet developed the niche skills employers are looking for, or do not yet have deep industry experience.
Our goal—and it’s a goal we share with employers and candidates alike—is to align market needs with candidate needs. Digital transformation is the future. Tech skills are paramount. And building deep industry experience is the way we will create real depth and sustainability for businesses and tech specialists alike. It’s an incredible opportunity.
So, what should job seekers be doing to make the most of it? Here are some key areas of advice that I regularly give to candidates on the job hunt:
Understand current competitive compensation in your field
According to a recent Seek survey, financial benefits are still most important for two in five people. Reflective of this, we consistently see candidates gravitating towards roles offering better pay. For now, competitive compensation—particularly for candidates who haven’t yet built-up deep experience, or those without niche skills—is not what it was. I always advise candidates to ensure they understand what current salary scales look like. Do you know what the market is currently paying for your level or role? A consultative approach will help you find a good long-term fit – work with your recruiter to understand more about the current market rate and a role to get the best outcome for you.
Building your skill set profile
As I’ve highlighted, digital transformation is an ongoing journey and it’s only getting more exciting. The widespread use of generative AI, for example, requires an entirely new skillset. Cybersecurity professionals are not general cloud specialists and vice versa, and yet the ability to combine these skills is becoming paramount. There are so many avenues for tech candidates to extend their skills or find niche areas to develop them. Many organisations will back that development because they see the long-term benefits. If that’s important for you, look for positions that will create a path for growth and career advancement (and let your recruiter know).
Consider work-life balance
Candidates are now more inclined to seek roles that offer flexibility, remote working options, and a healthier work-life equilibrium. If this is important to you, there is a huge opportunity now to find positions that suit your needs while you continue to develop your skills and career.
Corporate culture matters just as much
The cultural fit between an employee and an organisation is critical, particularly in hybrid and remote environments. When we work with job seekers, we look for individuals and corporate cultures that align. I work closely with my candidates to help them articulate what matters to them so that they can ask the right questions during the recruitment process. What we do know, is that salary can be a second factor in any job choice. Culture is what drives job satisfaction. I believe that. Being happy within an organisation enhances work-life balance and your personal life.
Ultimately, markets are always shifting. Different skills are needed at various times and there will be ebbs and flows between employer-driven and candidate-driven markets. The key is to understand what is happening around you at the time of your job seeking. Consider what you want from a role and how to find the right cultural fit. Working with an agency whom you trust and can be open with, is an excellent place to start.
Nathan Coller is a National Account Director in Brisbane with over 15 years of experience in the industry and with Paxus. He has extensive expertise recruiting across a broad range of IT roles, with particular focus on niche roles in Cyber Security, IT Healthcare and Federal Government. He provides candidates and employers with in depth knowledge of the market, businesses, and culture, to match exceptional candidates that fit seamlessly into suitable roles.