Modern IT professionals are increasingly expected to be communicators first, technical whizzes second.

Despite ongoing mumbles about the slow, cautious market and employer purse-tightening, we’re still seeing some companies actively engaged in creating jobs, attracting talent and employing new staff, though it’s a specific flavour of candidate they’re after. It appears that long-term economic tensions have emphasised more than ever the need for employees of all levels to be multi-dimensional people rather than production-line workers: not only technically capable of their job but also able to communicate warmly and effectively, internally and externally. For employers it’s about getting bang for buck; job seekers who can build rapport quickly, ‘fit in well with the team’ and make a positive impression on their clients have significantly more to offer. The IT industry is fast shaking loose the stereotype of silent nerds in dark cupboards, tweaking servers and pumping out software. As companies of all sizes are working to market themselves as personal and approachable (engaging via social media, emphasising the ‘personal touch’ etc.), modern IT professionals are increasingly expected to be communicators first, technical whizzes second.

The most in-demand candidates appear to be mid-level to senior developers, from all camps. C# / .NET has been a staple technology in the Auckland market, maintaining its reputation as a ‘Microsoft town’, while demand in the Java space has fluctuated over the long-term with a more recent spike of interest in open source technologies around SaaS, PaaS and cloud management projects that have proven to be very rare locally. Interestingly new PHP development vacancies have risen significantly, with projects moving beyond traditional CMS-driven websites to complex web applications, indicating growing acceptance of PHP as a competing programming language. Immediately available and highly presentable PHP developers matching the personal characteristics above and seeking salaries around the intermediate $55-70k band have lasted as little as one day on the market in recent months. Very few of these hunt for more than a week before securing job offers (sometimes presented at first interview without any technical testing), posing a real challenge for competing employers.

These conditions have highlighted the need for hiring managers to be more agile and fluid with processes than they may have been with previous recruitment drives. While reconciling this reality with due corporate processes can be difficult, great talent hangs in the balance. Those businesses that are committed to securing it – particularly in the web development space – need to be well-prepared to enable quick action when presented with stand-out candidates. Of course we recommend some diligence to avoid issues further down the track, but some preparations can be made to help fast-track the process. Quick feedback and decision-making through clearly defined and prioritised position requirements, followed by prompt interview availability and ready-to-go template offer / employment forms may well be the difference between a great new employee and losing out to a competitor.

What also seems to be serving companies well is re-investing in relationships with external talent agencies, using them more than ever as spokespeople for the unique Employee Value Propositions of their clients. By increasing transparency around the business roadmap, internal recruitment processes and the more intangible qualities required (those intrinsic to the company’s approach to work, beyond the technology stack), agents can respond with the speed and accuracy demanded by the vacancy.