While the overall job market continues its recovery from the worst of the pandemic, Dice’s first Tech Job Report of 2021 offers some encouraging data on the outlook for the tech job landscape. For example, the first quarter of 2021 showed a 28 percent increase in job postings from the fourth quarter of 2020, and, of the top 50 hiring organizations thus far in 2021, 60 percent are hiring more than in the first quarter of 2020. It’s clear that businesses are again focused on the tech talent they’ll need to fulfill their grand strategies... but which jobs and skills are they particularly interested in?
After several quarters of uncertainty, the development of effective COVID-19 vaccines, combined with federal stimulus spending, has helped some businesses regain the confidence to move out of survival mode and into longer-term planning centered around innovation and transformation. As we look at the Job Report’s breakdown of the tech occupations enjoying the most hiring activity, that renewed focus may explain the five-rank improvement for Program Managers, who are hired to spearhead the new initiatives designed to put companies on a track for increased growth and profitability.
Similarly, product managers will also be brought onboard to coordinate the development and delivery of innovative new projects and services – as a result, Product Managers saw a surge in job postings, improving by 17 slots to 14th place. Product managers’ roles will only grow more complex as they attempt to manage widely dispersed teams, thanks to companies embracing a mix of permanent remote, in-office, and “flexible” work models. Some of the top organizations looking to hire Product Managers in Q1 include Amazon, Facebook, Uber and KPMG.
The increase in the rank of Business Consultants in Q1 (ranked 21st, improved by six) tells us that many organizations are choosing to place their bets on the highly specialized knowledge a third-party strategic resource can bring to the table. Consultants have the added benefit of extreme subject-matter expertise, whether in cybersecurity, infrastructure, or marketing. Plus, consultants are a variable cost, and often employed for relatively short periods of time, unlike full-time employees.
At the lowest point of the pandemic, companies were forced to downsize teams, reduce hiring, and, in some cases, radically restructure their business model in order to survive. As rising optimism leads these companies to look toward building for the future, they’ve begun hiring technologists again in considerable numbers. Technical Support Engineer (ranked 17th, improving by seven slots) as well as Data Scientists (ranked 34th, improving by six slots), have been just a few of the beneficiaries of this trend.
Between February and March, some of the fastest-growing technologist roles in terms of job postings included Data Warehouse Developers (52% increase month-over-month), Cybersecurity Managers (50% increase month-over-month), and IT Directors (45% increase month-over-month). As businesses enact their long-gestating plans to return to the office, they’ll need specialists in all three of these roles to ensure that data is structured correctly, that remote and on-premises workers’ IT setups are secure, and that the IT infrastructure is prepared for whatever the future will bring. In addition, IT Directors will be responsible for assembling and managing the teams that will ensure this complicated work is done both quickly and properly.
Key Skills in Demand
The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that specialized technologists with cutting-edge skills can have a marked impact on short-term organizational success and even longer-term outlooks in times of crisis. From machine learning and A.I. to web development, technologists’ skill levels can determine whether products and services hit the market or become costly sinkholes—and that, in turn, can determine whether businesses survive amidst fierce rivalries and shifting demand.Regardless of the industry, both the traditional and cutting-edge technologies underpinning the operations of businesses and organizations (and the employees who’ve mastered them) have proven to be impactful enough to be key determinants in future viability.
Over the past few years, DevOps (ranked 11th, improved by four) has remained a high-paying and in-demand skill, and with good reason: economic circumstances notwithstanding, companies will always need technologists who are well-versed in how to drive continuous delivery and high product quality, and how to optimize the product lifecycle. As we move beyond the worst of the pandemic, many corporate budgets remain tight, increasing the need for DevOps specialists who can deliver results in a streamlined and cost-efficient manner. In addition, technologists of all backgrounds might find themselves asked to utilize some aspect of DevOps in order to move projects forward; mastering this skillset can translate into professional security.
In addition to DevOps (which saw 67,000 job postings) and product management (57,000 job postings), companies across the spectrum are searching for skilled technologists who have mastered machine learning (ranked 37th, improved by 44) and Kubernetes (ranked 31st, improved by 36). All of the above are skills that could cumulatively mean the difference between success and failure for many teams.
Over the past few years, companies have invested more resources in machine learning, with the aim of making apps and services “smarter.” For data scientists, machine learning and A.I. specialists, and software developers (depending on their specialization), knowing the intricacies of machine learning is an increasingly important part of their overall workflows. Meanwhile, Kubernetes helps Systems Administrators, developers, DevOps engineers, and other technologists automate many of the processes around the containerized applications that are often mission critical. Without these skills, companies risk falling behind rivals who are iterating and evolving faster than ever.
The past quarter also saw a rise in the number of jobs demanding Microsoft Azure (ranked 41st, improved by 17). Although Amazon Web Services (AWS) has long dominated the cloud-computing market, the popular perception is that Microsoft has managed to gain marketplace ground over the past year. Given that many companies have already had Microsoft-centric tech stacks for many years, perhaps it’s no surprise that there’s an accompanying need for Azure skills (Microsoft also argues that GitHub, the massive code repository it purchased in 2018 for $7.5 billion, increases Azure adoption by exposing developers and companies to new examples of successful Azure-based deployments).
On a month-over-month basis, Tableau, a data visualization tool, enjoyed notable 30 percent growth. Change management (29 percent) and data warehousing (27 percent) also experienced significant increases. This dovetails neatly with the demand for data scientists and consultants, who rely on tools like Tableau and data-warehousing best practices in order to draw the information they need from the company’s datasets, before transforming those learnings into organizational change.
Whatever your skillset, it’s clear that employers are hungry for experienced and skilled technologists who can help them build for the future. Download Dice’s latest Job Report for more key hiring insights, including the tech hubs that are enjoying a surge in job postings.