Tech Recruiter Q&A: What Technical Skills Are in Demand Now?

If there’s one thing you can count on in the technology industry, it’s change. To help navigate that change, we asked two of our resident tech recruiting experts to provide some insight into today's most in-demand technical skills.

Peter Giaimo, director of permanent placement services in Chicago, and David Knapp, metro market manager in San Francisco, give us a snapshot of what technical skills are in demand, and how those skills have evolved. We also asked them to take out their crystal balls and tell us which ones they think will be hot in the future.

Clea Badion: What technical skills are in demand now compared to a few years ago?

Peter: There’s an increased demand for experts in virtualization technology – any technology that will allow a firm to do more with less hardware is attractive to companies today. We’re also seeing more demand for candidates with Citrix product line experience in areas that used to be dominated by VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V. As Windows servers continue to evolve and integrate more features, firms are utilizing Microsoft native tools: They’re using Windows remote versus third-party apps, for example, and are seeking candidates with appropriate experience. IT professionals with integrated messaging experience such as Lync also are in demand.

David: There’s more demand for business analysts. Companies have access to so much data these days. They’re looking to hire IT professionals who can manage and warehouse that data, and business analysts to work with marketing and sales teams to use it effectively. Firms also have different security requirements: In the past, companies just wanted to keep people out of their networks. Now they want to keep people who are already inside their networks from getting access to certain data. There’s been an increase in operating systems migrations – we have new versions every few years, and firms want people with the technical skills to manage those migrations. Open source development has also evolved: MS and Java were standard, but now companies need developers experienced in LAMP stack.

CB: What technical skills do you think will be hot in the next year?

Peter: We’ve been hearing about the cloud for a long time, and we’re seeing it in the consumer space with products like Spotify, Pandora and Google’s Gmail. But we’re not seeing a lot of use of the cloud in the commercial space yet, and I think that’s an area that could heat up. We’re also seeing an increase in SaaS. Most of the development position requests we get are web based – firms are not building as many client server apps or desktop apps. The majority of development positions we’re placing involve software that's built in a browser, and I think that trend will continue.

David: It’s all about mobile: Firms want customers to have access to their sites and products through mobile and hand-held devices. Companies that have developed a web presence now want web developers with the technical skills to create apps on handheld devices.

CB: Any career advice for IT professionals?

Peter: Don’t become stagnant in your skills – what was hot yesterday may not be desirable today or in five years.

David: Work with a recruiter, of course. Also, before you interview, do your research. Make sure you know about the company and their products then demonstrate that knowledge during the interview.

CB: Any advice for recent IT graduates looking for work?

Peter: Call me. If you’re graduating with software engineering and development skills, and your technical skills are current, you should have no problem getting a job. My general advice to all new IT grads is to get a job and start working. It doesn’t have to be the “perfect” job. You need to hone relevant and current IT skills that are in demand in the job market. Also, don’t job hop.

David: Get your foot in the door. IT grads need that first job in IT so they can go in and demonstrate their abilities. It may not be the firm you spend the rest of your life with, but get the experience. You want to look for a mentor and for a firm with cool technology to make yourself more marketable.

More Information on In-Demand Technical Skills

For information on starting compensation for 70 IT jobs in 150 North American cities, and the IT skills required for each position, check out our 2014 Salary Guide.

Tags: Career RX