IT Job Market Robust, Despite Layoffs at Microsoft, HP

Expect the tech job market to continue to be strong in 2015, particularly in growing areas like big data, cloud computing, mobile app development and information security.

IT jobs

The nationwide job market for IT professionals is undeniably robust, with an unemployment rate of just 2.5 percent. Still, significant downsizing occurred in the computer industry in 2014, according to a Challenger, Gray and Christmas report.

Overall, the tech sector was responsible for 21 percent of 483,171 total job cuts announced in 2014. It marked the first time that tech-sector job cuts exceeded 100,000 since 2009, when they reached 174,629.

The biggest increase in job-cut activity occurred in the electronics industry, where annual job cuts surged 120 percent from 8,830 in 2013 to 19,408 last year.

The report covers only job cuts announced by U.S.-based firms. The demand for IT workers globally is relatively strong, according to CEO John Challenger.

In particular, he singled out the advanced economies in Europe and other emerging markets, which he noted are rapidly expanding the use of technology.

A report released earlier this week by online IT jobs portal Dice painted a similarly rosy picture—though not across the board.

Technology consulting added 26,500 jobs in the fourth quarter, for example, but data processing, hosting and related services lost 700 jobs, Dice reported.

Dice president Shravan Goli told eWEEK the company's latest hiring survey found more candidates are rejecting offers, with 29 percent of hiring managers seeing rebuffs, compared to 26 percent in June 2014 and November 2013.

"Today, it's hard for many companies to find top tech talent. The market is very competitive. What I would suggest to companies in search of tech professionals is to really think outside the box, both in regard to recruitment tactics and company perks," Goli said. "You need to make clear what separates you from other firms. From a compensation standpoint, put your best offer forward when you are negotiating with a candidate."

While that advice may work for some tech firms, two of the industry's biggest tech titans appear to require some streamlining.

The report noted that both HP and Microsoft announced plans to cut payrolls by 59,523, a combined 69 percent increase from the 35,136 job cuts by these companies in 2013.