2011 Technology Hiring Prediction: Attrition Inevitable

As a technical recruiting company, it’s critical to stay on top of IT staffing trends. In addition to frequently researching data published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dice Holdings’ annual salary survey , and other credible sources of labor statistics, we also like see what some of the large firms in our space are finding through surveys of their own. Recently, we obtained a copy Robert Half’s 2011 Salary Guide for IT. While Robert Half is best known in the technology recruiting arena for temporary staffing, some of their findings align with what we are seeing in the direct hire marketplace. Notably, over half of the CIOs polled by Robert Half admit that it’s challenging for their companies to find skilled IT professionals. Even more interesting is the statistic pertaining to the probable transiency of IT workers in the coming quarters. Nearly 40% of the respondents (over 1400 employed technology professionals) claim that they are inclined to look for new opportunities as the economy improves.

Get ready for some attrition.

While we may never again see the astronomical attrition rates that characterized the employment scene during the inflation of the Dot-com bubble, it is inevitable that companies will lose valuable employees as current market conditions continue to improve.  There’s already evidence that large technology employers in the Valley are trying to counteract the flight of valuable tech pros.  Several of the big tech players, many of which were previously dismissive of attrition, are starting to battle back by counter offering at risk employees with higher salaries, new projects and promotions. Smart companies are realizing that the demand for talent has increased in the past couple of months and that it’s less expensive to keep a high performing employee than to find a new person and to wait for them to get productive.

Startups need to be the most vigilant.

Sure, free drinks, Nerf wars, game lounges and weekly sponsored lunches are nice but professional techies won’t settle for free Odwalla, dim sum, and Wii alone (as tempting as it may sound). Moreover, the promise of a huge liquidity event is more of a pipedream than ever. Tech professionals are going to look for new opportunities in 2011 at a higher rate for the first time in 3 years. Many startup companies, especially those stuck in the ‘90’s, that think that everyone should just naturally want to work long hours on mediocre projects for low pay and average benefits are going to have to channel their entrepreneurial creativity to find ways to motivate and inspire valuable employees to join and to stay engaged.   Oxygen bar? Just kidding. That’s never worked.

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