It’s not easy being a software developer, engineer or other IT professional in today’s economy. Yes, you are involved in a fast-moving profession. Yes, you have the potential to earn a good salary, plus nice perks. Yes, if you stay up to date on the latest platforms and paradigms, you are likely to keep your job—and likely to find another job if you seek advancement or if you should wind up unemployed.
On the other hand, even the sizzling stock market is no guarantee that you’ll be able to stay working at the company you like. If you live outside a tech-hub area like San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Austin, Boston, London, Seattle, or other magnet cities, you may also have challenges if your local market cools off.
Let’s look at some statistics that affect you, both as an IT professional and as a manager. These numbers and analysis are courtesy of Randstad Holding, a staffing company with practices in both general IT and engineering.
IT Worker confidence in the economy increases in the third quarter. Technology professionals’ confidence in the overall economy increased by 12 percentage points this quarter, with 42% believing the economy is getting stronger. More than a quarter (27%) say the economy is getting weaker, a notable decrease from last quarter’s 39%.
Increased number of IT workers believe more jobs are available this quarter. A third (33%) of IT workers say more jobs are available, compared to 22% in the second quarter of 2013. Nearly four in 10 (39%) IT employees believe that fewer jobs are now available, a decrease of four percentage points from the previous quarter.
More than half of tech workers are optimistic about their employability. Rising five percentage points this quarter, more than half (52%) of IT workers reported feeling confident in their ability to find a new job.
IT workers’ confidence in their job security rises significantly. A majority (77%) of IT workers report that it is not likely they will lose their job in the next 12 months, rising a significant 19 percentage points from the previous quarter.
The data for highly specialized engineers is slightly different than for other IT professionals:
Engineering workers’ confidence in the economy rises in the third quarter. Forty-three percent of engineering professionals believe the economy is getting stronger, rising three percentage points from the second quarter of 2013.
Engineers cautious about job availability. Just more than one out of every three (35%) engineers believe more jobs are available, showing no change from the previous quarter. However, 41% of engineering workers believe fewer jobs are available this quarter, representing a sizeable change in outlook when compared to last quarter’s 30%.
Engineers’ confidence in ability to find new jobs remains positive. The majority (61%) of engineers feel confident in their ability to find a new job, falling just one percentage point from the second quarter of 2013.
Worker sentiment about job security remains strong. Eighty-one percent of engineers report they are not likely to lose their jobs over the next 12 months, rising eight percentage points from the previous quarter.
Overall, this is good news. You likely have a workforce that believes that the economy is improving, and their own employment prospects are also improving. That means less time stressing, searching job boards and polishing a resume, and more time designing, coding and testing.
Let’s jump back to those magnet cities again: San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Austin, and so on. For sizing up opportunities in those locations, you can’t apply any normal, rational thought. The normal employer/employee relationship is twisted by the free flow of venture funding, a risk-based mentality, giant payouts for acquisitions, and a drive for entrepreneurialism that’s baked into the DNA. The bubble is the stuff of life.
You can read about this in a new story in the New York Times, “In Silicon Valley, Partying Like It’s 1999 Once More.” Even if you’re not in the Valley, it’s recommended reading, because even if your workers don’t live there, this is what they are aspiring to. All of us need to keep this craziness on our radar.
Alan Zeichick, founding editor of SD Times, is principal analyst of Camden Associates.