Software tech job seekers: optimistic, yet cautionary outlook
Like most people, software technology job seekers are wondering what 2021 will hold. Last year, unemployment rates went from record lows to historic highs, primarily in response to business disruptions caused by the pandemic. Now, in 2021, with the pandemic still an active (but hopefully waning) force, job seekers in software tech want to strategize for future employment.
Although those looking for most jobs will still have some bumps in 2021, there’s reason to be optimistic about the outlook for those seeking work in software technology. However, job seekers should note that the market--and the jobs themselves-- will not be as straightforward as they once were.
Big picture view of software tech jobs
Technology has been a growth area for years, and even more so as companies implement digital transformations. Despite the pandemic, that growth is expected to continue. A Korn Ferry report that came out after the pandemic began projects that the U.S. can expect to lose more than $162 billion by 2030 because of shortages in tech skills. The U.S. is not alone. According to the report, China, Japan and the UK also face tremendous revenue losses due to tech skills shortages.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics also reported that employment in computer and information technology jobs would grow 11% from 2019 to 2029, and that forecast remained positive even after it was updated in September 2020.
Despite the rosy long-term outlook, some short-term projections are not as uplifting. In November 2020, the U.S. job market lost 8300 jobs, primarily in small businesses and consulting firms. A Forrester report anticipates a .04% decline in the tech market this year.
So with a mixed bag of predictions, what should a job seeker do?
Know the IT jobs in demand
Some areas of IT anticipate more growth than others. Sought after positions include:
Mobile app developer
Video game designer
Computer systems analyst
Look for jobs with long-term sustainability
Technology changes so fast, it may be difficult to find a job that will be around for an entire career. Darrell Rosenstein, founder of The Rosenstein Group, suggested tech job seekers show caution in this article: “Be careful with the direction you plan to pivot into. Tech jobs that were hot just a few months ago are now no longer in high demand. Before changing gears, be prepared with enough information about the future of the tech field you want to get into.”
Rosenstein suggested looking into transferable skills in cloud infrastructure, cybersecurity, machine learning, artificial intelligence and agile.
Continuously build hard skills
Staying up to date with technology means job seekers must continue to develop their skills. In the past, this may have meant deepening or broadening skills in the main area. However, one of the lessons learned from the pandemic’s effect on business was the necessity of companies being flexible, with a workforce that could easily adapt to change. With that in mind, building hard skills now also means upskilling and cross skilling with courses on AI, machine learning, data science and data analytics.
Hone soft skills
Although abilities like communication, leadership, resilience, creativity and compassion are called “soft skills,” they shouldn’t be overlooked. The stress of this last year and the challenges of managing remote employees and front line employees emphasized how necessary it was that leaders have these skills. Moreover, companies realize that it may be easier to hire for fit and then help employees develop technical skills than the other way around.
Take advantage of remote flexibility
Eventually, employees will return to the office, although perhaps not as automatically as they did in the past. Remote work, perhaps in hybrid form, will continue. That means employees and employers will have fewer geographic limitations, so job seekers can look for jobs globally or nationally, and not just in their commuting area.
Opportunities for non-tech job seekers
Understandably, those with solid software technology skills will have an advantage in the tech job market. However, given the lack of candidates, companies are looking at non-traditional options, such as candidates who can analyze, problem solve, be creative and collaborate, but who may not have an IT background.
The software technology job market may face some bumps, but ultimately, companies will continue their investments in digital technologies, and the need for employees in this area will grow. Job seekers can best prepare by continuously increasing their skills-- both hard and soft-- that provide agility for whatever lies ahead.