Not many people were hunting for jobs at this time last year. At the start of a pandemic and associated economic downturn, most workers were worried about their company's stability and keeping the jobs that they already had. Would there be layoffs? If so, would other companies even be hiring? It was a time of great uncertainty.
Looking for a new job and a higher salary last year was not a priority. Holding onto the job you had seemed like the smart thing to do.
But now in 2021, COVID vaccines are being distributed, schools are reopening, and most people have a much greater sense of certainty about their jobs and their value in the market. If you were going to be laid off due to COVID's economic impact, it probably would have happened by now. Now it is clearer what new opportunities have been created and which vertical industries to avoid for a while still.
It's in that environment that some IT pros may be dusting off those resumes and looking at the job market again. In particular, if you were in a position where your salary was frozen and it still hasn't thawed, you may be wondering what opportunities are out there.
The job market is showing some signs of recovery, according to Ryan Sutton, a district president specializing in technology for recruitment firm Robert Half, who spoke with InformationWeek in an interview.
"If you go back to the first three to six months of the pandemic, there were a lot of unknowns and candidates looked for a new job out of need more than desire," Sutton said. "But over the last six months we are seeing a steady increase in traffic entering the job market again as candidates are more confident about making a move."
If you want a raise, changing jobs has usually been the easiest way to do it. Sutton said that pretty much every candidate in IT who makes a move gets a salary increase. Over the past several years there's been rampant growth of salaries in tech for those candidates willing to move. Candidates may have moved a few times and seen a salary bump of 25% each time, although the pandemic may have normalized those salaries somewhat.
Another big shift in the market is the acceptance of remote talent. As companies have been forced to work with a remote workforce, they've realized that they can choose from a bigger pool of candidates when they go beyond geographic constraints.
For instance, a company in New York City may have been paying top dollar for local talent, but the pandemic shifted the mindset about who they could hire. Now they may be looking at farther flung candidates -- possibly ones who would only come to the office once or twice a week, or possibly ones who would be completely remote. They can pay these candidates less, but still pay a premium over what that candidate would make in their local market.
"Companies are not low-balling the remote candidates," Sutton said.
That means that if you are looking to upgrade your salary and you don't already live in an expensive market like New York or San Francisco, you may be able to get a salary boost by applying for remote jobs with companies based in those cities.
Will organizations revert to their old ways of hiring local candidates only once the pandemic is over? Not if they follow Sutton's advice.
"The advice is don't revert to the past...We foresee more of a hybrid workforce over the long haul," he said. "Employees will have more choice in their work schedules provided the quality of their work stays high."
If you are an IT worker who is looking at a frozen salary or a lower-than-expected raise, Sutton's advice is this: "Don't be afraid to make a move."
He sees two types of candidates: ones who overvalue stability, and ones who are willing to make a move.
"If your current employer doesn't pay well and doesn't have the kind of culture you want, you are doing yourself a disservice to not look at what is out there," Sutton said. "Don't be afraid to do the research."
It's not being disloyal to your current employer to look at what else is out there. He compares it to looking at your neighbor's house. You love your own house, but you should know what other houses have, too, he said.
"The same holds true for your career," Sutton said.