“It’s been a transformational year for San Diego’s tech market,” says Kyle Houston, branch manager for Robert Half here. Indeed, California’s southernmost metro area is poised to join its northerly neighbors like San Francisco and Los Angeles as a technology hub.
San Diego placed first among U.S. cities for projected tech hiring in 2018 in the annual Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report. Considering these stats, it’s not surprising that 29 percent of San Diego CIOs plan to add full-time technology professionals to their teams in early 2018 — an increase of 14 points from the opening months of 2017. Additionally, 51 percent intend to fill any vacant positions that arise to maintain current technology staff levels.
Statewide, web developers, app developers, and systems analysts and managers are slated to be among the top 100 fastest growing occupations between 2014 and 2024.
With all this moving and shaking going on, employers in and around San Diego need to know how to recruit skilled talent in a tight job market — and candidates should understand how to edge out the competition.
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San Diego’s most wanted tech skills
“As more businesses build a presence here, we expect continued demand for project and full-time professionals with skills in web development, DevOps and cybersecurity to support the growth of internet-based companies and the already strong startup market,” says Houston
According to the hiring forecast, local employers in the San Diego job market will be keenest on the following skills in 2018:
- Cybersecurity — This reflects growing concern about cyberattacks and the increasingly sophisticated ways in which hackers compromise corporate data, Houston says.
- Wireless network management — Hiring in this sector allows companies to keep up with the ever-increasing mobile workforce and the additional flexibility employees require.
- Database management — Companies increasingly rely on competitive analytics, which must be protected and efficiently managed.
In addition to these technical skills, employers look for candidates who can work with other team members across the organization. “Interpersonal skills are becoming critical to technology operations as the interaction between IT and the business — chiefly marketing —becomes commonplace,” Houston says. “Regardless of the role, people skills and communication are key factors in hiring.”
Of the CIOs polled in San Diego, 26 percent said they plan to focus on the security of IT systems and protection of company information over the next six months. Other concerns include:
- Upgrading existing systems for business efficiency (21 percent)
- Innovation and helping to grow their businesses (21 percent)
- Technology innovation and investing in new technologies (17 percent)
- Staff retention (14 percent)
Employers: Be flexible and move fast
A staggering 61 percent of local CIOs say it’s difficult to find skilled IT professionals in the San Diego job market. Houston cautions that a degree of flexibility may be required to meet hiring demands given the current market conditions. “The reality is that companies are becoming very flexible in their willingness to take on people with varying experience levels because competition is so high,” he says. Employers should be prepared to invest in additional training and plan to onboard candidates who don’t yet meet all their ideal skill requirements.
Companies must act quickly, too. “It’s no secret that the hiring process needs to be fast — yet efficient — these days,” he says. Hiring managers and HR departments should work together to ensure they are on the same page regarding roles and responsibilities. Managers might also benefit from seeking budget approval before meeting with candidates to avoid wasting precious time in the recruitment process.
Candidates: Be honest and up front
With the demand for IT professionals at a high level, skilled candidates may find themselves fielding multiple offers. In this situation, Houston recommends candidates examine their motivations. What’s most important? Better compensation? More flexibility? An easier commute? Understanding their biggest wants and needs helps job seekers effectively weigh their options.
And keep in mind that hiring managers appreciate honesty. Candidates considering multiple offers should be up front with prospective employers. “This doesn’t mean you need to show all of your cards,” Houston says, “but you do need to let them know what you like or dislike about the job or the offer.” In some cases, employers may adjust their offer to better suit the applicant’s needs. As always, candidates should give employers the courtesy of a phone call if they accept another position elsewhere.