IT Talent Poaching to Increase in 2011: Report

A Dice survey finds talent poaching will rise in 2011, particularly in the technology and consulting industries.

A recent study by IT job search specialist Dice found more than half (54 percent) of hiring managers and recruiters anticipate that tech talent poaching will get more aggressive this year, while just 3 percent of respondents expect it to let up.

That expectation is amplified when looking at hiring managers working in the technology or consulting industries. In those markets, 62 percent of those surveyed said talent skirmishes would get more aggressive, against 1 percent in the less aggressive camp.

The survey suggested hiring managers are taking frequent steps to keep technology talent from departing to the competition. The most popular tactics were accommodating flexible work hours, offering work on new or emerging technologies, and increasing salaries. Still, a majority of hiring managers (54 percent) said they believe they can tell when a technology professional is about to exit.

The most frequent sign is a change in habits related to work or a noticeable lack of engagement with colleagues or projects, but other signals include employees taking large numbers of single-day absences, changing to more formal dress and getting up-to-date on expense accounts. Hiring managers also said they believe hiring multi-skilled, experienced technology professionals with industry-specific experience helps diminish the potential risk around making a poor hiring decision. Nearly three-quarters of corporate respondents were doubtful that the requirement for industry experience would be relaxed in 2011, saying that relaxing the requirement would be unlikely or there would be no change.

"Meanwhile, there are few consequences for technology professionals should they decide to jump to a competitor," the report noted. "Only 11 percent of hiring managers said they would not allow a former employee to return after being poached, while one-third indicated the opposite. Most hiring managers say it would depend on the individual employee."

Based on the number of jobs posted by zip code on Dice as of March 1, the New York/New Jersey area led the top technology metro areas list, with 8,714 listings, a 24 percent rise from a year ago. The Washington, D.C., and Baltimore combined metro area followed, with 8,161 listings, up 25 percent from 2010. Silicon Valley placed third with just over 5,000 listings, up 41 percent from last year, and Chicago and Los Angeles rounded out the Top 5, with 3,275 listings and 2,899 listings, respectively.

As of March 1, overall available technology job listings on Dice were at 75,648, with 45,366 full-time positions, 34,289 contract positions and 1,592 part-time positions. However, technology professionals endured the second straight year of nearly flat salaries, according to the company's 2011‐2010 Annual Salary Survey.

Tech workers, on average, saw salary increases of less than 1 percent, to $79,384 from $78,845 in 2009, after receiving a similar increase the previous year. Nearly half (49 percent) of those surveyed received a salary increase in 2010, compared to just 36 percent who saw raises in the previous year. And more technology professionals received bonuses: 29 percent, compared with 24 percent of respondents in 2009.