IT employment in the U.S. recently experienced its largest single-month drop in more than a decade. But although the amount of IT job losses is nearly 46,000, that number represents a decrease of only 0.86% of all IT jobs in the U.S. There are still 5.3 million IT jobs out there.
If you’re an IT professional in Austin who recently lost your job, there’s more: Austin ranks fifth and Round Rock ranks 11th on a recent list of the country’s most recession-resistant cities. Will finding a job right be easy? No. But the challenges may not be as unsurmountable as you think. We asked Craig Patterson, The HT Group’s Professional Services Sales Director, what he’s learned by talking to Austin tech employers right now. Here are his top four insights on Austin tech jobs in the current job market:
1. Austin tech companies haven’t stopped hiring.
Rumors are circulating about a possible 10,000-job Tesla gigafactory coming to town, making the car company the city’s largest tech employer. Apple’s construction on a new mega campus for 5,0000 employees by 2022 is still on schedule. But there’s no reason to wait if you’re looking for a tech job. Thousands of IT jobs are posted in Austin right now.
Some of these jobs are traditional developer, design, product, sales and data positions that these employers have always needed. And others, Patterson points out, represent branding reinventions, testing or tracing technology, or CARES Act jobs related to COVID-19.
2. They need mission-critical IT jobs filled.
Don’t assume today’s tech jobs are only temporary because employers fear long-term commitment. Permanent, fulltime direct-hire jobs are just as common.
“Many companies that are hiring right now are hiring mission-critical positions,” Patterson says. “They aren’t experimenting, they’re not trying new products. They’re serious about finding the right, long-term fit for their IT teams that will keep the core business moving forward.”
3. Machine learning and automation jobs are taking off.
Dice.com points out that technology professionals are top-of-mind now for banks and finance firms. Data scientists and machine learning specialists—particularly in fraud and IT security—are in high demand. Not one industry affected by COVID-19 isn’t looking at ways to use automation to support efficiencies and safety in the current and post-pandemic world. Manufacturing, retail, education, government, and healthcare are looking to robotics and AI to help keep production going, students learning, and people healthy while mitigating risk to humans.
“There’s a lay view that automation might slow because the technology is expensive and firms would be hesitant to make capital investments in a crisis,” Mark Muro, a senior fellow and policy director who researches automation at the Brookings Institution, told the news site Protocol. That’s wrong, he added. “Economic literature over the last decade shows that these investments are made especially during a crisis.”
4. Tech job hunters from outside the metro are flooding the Austin market.
This is the bad news for local job seekers. Patterson says that The HT Group recruiters and the employers he knows are being bombarded with resumes from outside the metro areas. It seems those who lost their jobs elsewhere—in places like New York, California, the Midwest and even closer to home in Houston and other Texas metros—are taking this opportunity to attempt a move to Austin.
“Three months ago, Austin tech talent had the upper hand. You could get hired with 70% of the qualifications if you were top talent and a good cultural fit,” he says. “Right now, employers are hiring on 100% matches only. I haven’t seen anything like it in a long time.”
His biggest piece of advice? Find ways to stand out it what he calls a “sea of similarities.”
“Use your network,” Patterson advises. “Everyone is just sending emails right now. Call people instead. Ask colleagues to set up video chats to introduce you to others who should know you and who can help you get to the top of the slush pile of resumes. Do whatever you can to make a more personal connection.”
Don’t forget to ask fellow IT professionals who love their jobs, too. Most top employers have employee referral programs that offer incentives for those friends to bring on more talent like them. For additional job leads and technical staffing opportunities, contact The HT Group Technical Division.