Is it possible that the technical hiring bubble is about to burst? There is a growing concern among recruiters that the rate of technical hiring is down substantially in 2016 — by 40% according to some predictions. While struggles to hire in the space have been heavily documented, few seem to be talking about this significant decrease.
The technical recruitment scene has been huge for many years. The dot-com period, in which thousands of people made their way to Silicon Valley and established technology riches was a modern day gold rush. Then things went belly-up for a while during the dot-com crash.
Even during the 2008 recession, the amount of technical jobs remained steady, and the industry was a recruiter’s playground because of all the newly unemployed people flooding the market. In some cases, the only factor sustaining the economy was the creation of new technology firms that a lack of other jobs necessitated. In times of struggle, people become innovative, and a whole new generation of technology-driven startups emerged again during the last few years.
Are we looking at history repeating itself?
Cameron Moll, founder of Authentic Jobs, a job board that caters to technical jobs and web pros, says that his job board has been showing a 40% decline in overall tech jobs posted over a four-year period going back to January 2012. In April 2016, the site saw just half the volume of overall job postings than it did the previous year at the same time. Moll says that it’s not just his job board that’s seeing a reduction in tech jobs – it's happening across the board.
JobHubble also piped in on this topic via a post on HR Gazette, too. The author, a long time JobHubble recruiter, said that the downturn in tech jobs comes down to one thing: equilibrium in the job market. The post said that people are more content in their current roles, and therefore job boards are not getting the action they once did – they have grown obsolete in some ways due to social media and other marketing efforts that companies use to recruit quality people.
What the job market looks like for the second half of 2016
The most recent US Department of Labor report shows that job creation is still strong, up some 228,000 jobs from June 2016. There were also fewer layoffs and separations, indicating that American businesses are flourishing. The largest share of jobs was in the professional and business services, with 166,000 new jobs created by the end of July.
While the overall job market looks healthy, there are some regions where technical hiring is waning. Tamara Chuang of The Denver Post reports that a survey of 100 Denver-area CIOs indicated that they planned to hire less staff in the next 6 months of 2016 compared to 2015. The Robert Half IT Hiring Forecast also indicates that 65% of these Denver firms plan to only hire for open roles, and 13% plan to put hiring on hold altogether.
Technical recruitment remains competitive
However, tech hiring is expected to remain competitive. Companies still seek specialized skills. “CIOs also described the current hiring environment as very competitive, with a total of 61% saying it was still challenging to find skilled IT professionals,” Dawn Kawamoto reported for Information Week. This could be attributed to increasing consumer demand for cloud technology and mobile application development.
What should technical recruiters do now?
It’s important that tech recruiters remain as efficient as possible when seeking technical talent. Spending hours browsing job boards may not be the way to go anymore, as evidenced by the slowing use of this platform.
Instead, recruiters can leverage their existing relationships with technical talent and ask for more referrals. They can continue to build a strong presence on technical social networks and forums, where more passive talent may be lurking. They should also familiarize themselves with more mobile recruitment technology and use it on a regular basis to connect with tech talent.
Developing an outstanding compensation package with all the expected perks thrown in can help support the goal of attracting the right candidates, but recruiters must act quickly to grab the best before the competition does. Using a more efficient applicant tracking and recruitment system can reduce the risk of losing anyone in the process, but so too does developing good follow-up practices to keep candidates in the loop.
It may be too early to decide if technical hiring is indeed slowing down, but it seems that there may be a balance afoot that can work in the favor of tech recruiters in the coming year.