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IT gets its groove back

Mary Brandel | April 9, 2013
Salaries are rising, and bonuses are back. Though workload worries remain, optimism among IT employees is running high. Here's why.

Some job titles showed better-than-average gains. To cite just two examples, total compensation (salary plus bonus) rose 3.9% for business intelligence analysts and 3.6% for software engineers.

Overall, more than half (57%) of this year's respondents reported receiving a raise, compared with 47% last year.

All that reflects what recruiters are seeing in the marketplace. Matthew Ripaldi, senior vice president at IT staffing firm Modis, reports salary hikes of about 5% for both permanent and contract positions, and even higher bumps -- into the double digits -- for developers and software engineers. "We're seeing validation of this every single day, in all of our branches and across industries," he says.

The positive vibe could also be the result of ongoing reductions in negatives: This year's survey showed that budget cuts, hiring freezes, layoffs, training cuts and cancelled projects continued to tail off, after a more dramatic decline in 2012.

Perhaps the biggest driver of the new optimism is an increased demand for IT professionals in what recruiters are calling an employee's job market. The Association for Computing Machinery, for example, projects that the number of new computing jobs will increase by 150,000 per year for the next eight years. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate among U.S. IT workers was significantly lower than the overall unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2012 -- 3.3% versus 7.8% -- according to technology job board

That robust demand likely explains the precipitous decline -- from 36% in 2012 to 27% this year -- in the percentage of survey respondents who cited a poor job market as their reason for not seeking new employment.

"If you look at time-to-fill ratios, we're seeing an increased sense of urgency among hiring managers," Ripaldi says. "If we have a candidate interview at 10 a.m. and the manager doesn't call back by 4 p.m., there's a good chance [the candidate] will have already left for another opportunity." Ripaldi is also seeing employers work harder to secure talent, offering perks such as flexible hours and the opportunity to work from home.

Greener pastures

Samuel Satyanathan has benefited from the increasingly generous offers. He recently accepted a new position as senior solutions architect at a large telecommunications company. He was generally happy with his former employer, a financial services company, but was open to the right opportunity, he says.

The offer Satyanathan accepted was "appealing in every way, in terms of career growth and compensation package," he says. "But the important part was really getting to be part of something where I get to do more and possibly grow more." It also helped, he says, that the new company was very flexible about the timing of the transition, allowing him to collect a promised bonus from his former employer before starting in his new job.


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