What IT skills and roles will be in demand this year? Recruiters share the scoop.
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Sorry, IT job-hunters: If you're hoping for surprising predictions about what 2014 has in store, you're probably going to come away dissatisfied. That's because it's unlikely there will be any seismic shifts that completely upend the technology skills, roles, and titles that employers want.
"There's nothing that I would say is the new 'hottest thing ever' " coming in 2014, said Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing firm Modis, in an interview.
Indeed, much of what follows should sound familiar. This could be a good thing. Earth-shattering predictions have a knack for missing the mark. (Apocalypse 2012, anyone?) So the job-market calls that Cullen and other industry experts shared with InformationWeek are more realistic and more useful if you're looking for a new position in 2014. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Big data experts. Yesterday's buzzword is tomorrow's hot job market. While the hype around big data isn't new, Cullen thinks actual hiring in the category will start to gain tangible ground in 2014. "The area where I think we'll see some pickup, that people are still trying to figure out, is this whole world around big data -- whether it's products like Hadoop or big data analytics" or other relevant skills, Cullen told us.
2. Business intelligence (BI) designers. Tom Hart, CMO of staffing firm Eliassen, offered another specific example within the big data universe: the ability to turn all of that information into stuff the executive suite, marketing, and other non-technical business units can actually understand and use. (PowerPoint achieved popularity for a reason, people.) Enter BI designers.
"There are plenty of companies that can help you to store data, build redundancy into storage, and normalize the data for efficient storage and access," Hart said via email. "But there's clearly a shortfall of talented developers that can help you to interpret and present the data in a meaningful way, in the form of executive-level or business-level dashboards, guiding the decision-making process through the intelligent discerning and representation of that stored data."
3. DevOps experts with cloud and mobility skills. We're cheating a bit here. IT pros with serious DevOps chops are in high demand right now, according to Kevin Gorham, recruiting manager at Hollister. That's going to continue in 2014; DevOps experts who build and maintain cloud infrastructure and mobile apps are sitting pretty in the labor market.
"If I have people with this skill set, I can call my clients and easily get several interviews set up for these candidates. They really are a walking placement," Gorham told us in an email. "They can command higher salaries, and I'll often get into a bidding war with my clients over these potential hires. Developers who are more of an engineer and can program and script in Linux -- not your just your run-of-mill admins -- are highly marketable, too."
4. Linux pros. Indeed, while "Linux" and "hot" don't often appear in the same breath, IT pros with Linux expertise will remain in demand in the coming year. In 2013, the "Linux Jobs Report" -- produced by Dice.com and the Linux Foundation -- found that three out of four Linux pros had received calls from headhunters in the previous six months. Meanwhile, 90% of hiring managers reported difficulties filling Linux positions.
Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, expects even more favorable conditions for Linux job seekers in 2014.
"Demand for Linux professionals continues to go up and represents a multi-year trend that is the result of Linux becoming more and more ubiquitous. It is the software that runs our lives, and we need more systems administrators and developers to keep up with the growth," Zemlin said via email. He attributes much of the demand to wider business adoption of open-source technologies in general, and added that the Linux Foundation will ramp up online learning and advanced training opportunities in the coming year to help meet demand. "If you're an IT professional looking for long-term career growth, there is no better place to be than working with open-source."