It is a job hunter’s dream market right now, with job openings hitting record highs month after month. The New York Times recently called this “the job market we’ve been waiting for.” That’s especially true for technology professionals, more in-demand than ever as organizations continue to double down on digital transformation and other technology-enabled business initiatives.
But a red-hot job market comes with its own challenges for job seekers. Combined with the potential of personal uncertainty (“Am I unhappy in my role, or just burned out?”) and macro ambiguity ("Is remote work here to stay?), tech pros on the hunt for new roles are encountering some thorny issues.
Following are some of the more common situations IT job seekers are facing now – along with advice on how to handle them.
1. Location TBD
Many organizations are in the midst of determining the right mix of in-person and remote work to suit their teams. Some are going back to 100-percent onsite, some are remaining 100-percent remote, and others opting for a hybrid approach.
In the meantime, IT professionals should remain flexible and focus on other aspects of open positions, advises Kelly Doyle, managing director with IT executive recruiting firm Heller Search Associates. “Things are still unfolding in terms of what remote and in-office work will continue to look like as companies make decisions, so candidates should try to be as open-minded as possible,” Doyle says. “Go through the interview process and see if it’s the right role. Then, if both sides feel there is a strong match, they can discuss needs and get creative on the right mix of work from home and remote.”
Jim Halpin, senior unit manager at staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network, advises asking multiple parties during the interview process about the company’s return-to-office plans. “Also, be honest about expectations,” Halpin says. “If the candidate has no intention of going back onsite again, that is okay, but clear about that from the beginning.”
2. Uncertainty and doubt
The last year and a half has been a stressful time for corporate technology functions, with team members working double time to respond to the pandemic. The result: burnout.
“With the ability to work from home, or anywhere, we’re seeing greater burnout among security and IT professionals since it’s more difficult to separate personal time from work. Not having to catch a train or beat traffic makes it easier for individuals to justify working for longer hours,” says Nathan Beu, a partner in West Monroe’s technology practice. “The burnout is then causing people to reevaluate their career or job, thinking the ‘grass is greener’ somewhere where maybe the burnout won’t be as bad.”
It’s important, then, to take some time to separate from the stress to determine whether a job change will be the answer, or whether the answer is just creating more balance in a current role.
3. Analysis paralysis
Having multiple job offers to choose from can actually cause additional anxiety and make decision-making more difficult rather than the opposite, according to the Barry Schwartz book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. “The current jobs market is a great one for candidates given that many companies are hiring and competing for top talent, leading candidates to get multiple job offers,” Halpin says.
When an overabundance of options leads to apprehension, confusion, or dissatisfaction, it’s important to realign with the facts. “For each position they interview for, candidates should list out the pros and cons for each position,” advises Halpin. “From there, candidates should stack rank the opportunities and be honest with the recruiters they are working with. It is okay to ask for another conversation with the hiring manager or with the team to make sure you are making the right decision.”
Whether a candidate decides to accept or decline an offer, it’s important to do due diligence, talk to others about the decision, and then make it. “It doesn’t do them or the company any good to deliberate for too long,” says Halpin.
Not surprisingly, the war on talent is getting cutthroat. “We’ve seen a rise in candidates getting counteroffers this year due to the demand for talent, oftentimes coming at a surprise to the candidate,” notes Halpin, who adds that most technology professionals assume their employers wouldn’t fight to keep them.
“Know this: Companies are struggling to fill openings right now and the probability of getting a counteroffer from a current employer is high,” Halpin continues. “We are finding that many candidates are getting countered when their employer finds out they are trying to leave. There are pros and cons, and risks and rewards with counteroffers. Whatever a candidate decides, they should be prepared for the situation to come up and have a plan of how they would handle it ahead of time.”