As hybrid work trends continue to leave a lasting impact on the workforce, IT professionals, senior IT leaders, and organizations will continue to benefit from enhanced flexibility.
The tech industry created 193,000 jobs in 2022, and there are currently 317,000 open job listings for technology roles, according to Forrester Research.
This urgent need for talent means IT hiring prospects will remain high in 2023, allowing IT professionals with sought-after skills to have the upper hand in negotiations in areas not seen in the past, such as compensation and schedule flexibility.
"Empowering remote work allows organizations to identify and attract some of the most skilled IT professionals without geographical limits, which wasn't as easily accessible before the proliferation of the distributed workforce," said Deepak Mohan, executive vice president of engineering at Veritas Technologies.
Organizations that allow hybrid work can also reap productivity benefits and increased employee satisfaction, as hybrid work is now proven to increase productivity levels and reduce burnout, he said.
"However, IT professionals seeking senior management positions, such as a CISO or CIO role, may still realize faster career progression if they choose to work onsite at company headquarters," Mohan added. "This would be due to more strategic decision-making and networking opportunities from increased in-person visibility."
Patricia Frost, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Seagate Technology, agrees that the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently shifted the workforce.
The migration toward a more distributed workforce benefits IT and tech professionals by making employment opportunities available regardless of where the employee resides.
"With that said, the challenge for employers is to be intentional about balancing the option to work remotely with keeping employees engaged and connected within the organization," she said. "A pure WFH model often renders the employee experience primarily transactional."
Frost pointed out that a successful, rewarding, and empowering career includes collaboration, mentorship, partnership, idea generation, social engagement, and team building.
"These elements are harder to create and sustain from a pure WFH model," she cautioned.
Demand for Top Talent Expected to Remain Strong
Given that many tech companies have recently executed layoffs, IT and tech employees have lost some bargaining and negotiating influence, according to Frost.
"With restricted budgets, employers simply don't have the compensation flexibility they enjoyed just a few months ago," she said. "However, the pool of available tech talent has increased in the market."
IT professionals who are high performers will always be in demand, she said, and as a result have some built-in career security, both with their current employer and in the wider market.
"Current job market conditions may translate into a slightly lengthier job search and perhaps compensation packages may be flat to slightly decreased, but the demand for this talent will remain strong and get stronger in the second half of 2023," Frost said.
From her perspective, high-performing employees with a strong IT skill set will always drive the bargaining and negotiating power, especially with new technologies or capabilities that are in high demand.
"All companies want to hire the best to drive their business objectives," she noted.
Stress Levels Remain Elevated, Boosting IT Worker Leverage
With the IT skills gap and cyber skills gap causing current IT administrators to feel overworked and underappreciated, employee retention is under stress, furthering the talent gap.
As a result, IT professionals are now in a strong position to leverage their talents and negotiate benefits with potential employers that align with and, in some cases, even exceed the industry standard.
"Employees should evaluate what aspects of a compensation package they value most, including hybrid work, salary, bonuses, paid time off, and more, and create a plan to leverage their skill sets against the growing demand for talent," Mohan said.
Experienced professionals should continue to seek out opportunities to learn and develop highly sought-after skill sets through upskilling, reskilling, and continued education, he said.
Mohan pointed out that skills related to public cloud and security infrastructure are particularly in high demand, and thus, IT professionals will benefit from becoming certified in well-known platforms such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud.
"Employees should take advantage of new learning opportunities provided through their current company while also pursuing certifications through their partner organizations," he noted.
Frost also believes IT professionals should investigate development opportunities to enhance their skills through mentorships, networking opportunities, projects, or educational resources such as LinkedIn classes or certifications.
"IT professionals who prioritize reskilling and upskilling will experience the highest level of demand," she said. "IT staff often wear many hats within an organization but, for example, a cybersecurity professional has a very different set of skills than one who works in data analytics."
IT staff who pursue additional training certifications and curriculum to upskill or reskill set themselves up to provide the most value to their organizations, she added.
A Transformational Moment for the 'Right' IT Pros
Christiana Khostovan, general counsel, corporate secretary, and chief human resources officer at Aryaka, thinks 2023 will be a "pivotal year" for IT professionals.
"Demand for the right IT professionals, with expertise in mission-critical and transformational disciplines, will be at all-time highs," she said.
IT hiring prospects for those who can automate manual tasks, create meaningful impact to customer and employee experiences, or correlate events across silos are especially high, as those people are becoming even more valuable to the market.
"As an example, the evolving cyberthreat is driving a premium for security expertise that is in short supply, but it's not the siloed security team of a few years ago," Khostovan said. "Attacks are so advanced that it requires correlation and understanding across disciplines, like networking, cloud, and identity management."
Khostovan added that forward-thinking IT leaders are reframing how they solve the challenge of limited budgets and expanding tech portfolios and are looking to where these professionals are converging.
From her perspective, truly transformational organizations are leveraging this opportunity to rethink, restructure, and reallocate investment for the future.
"Those that sit at the nexus of this decision about where to invest are the knowledge workers that can help CTOs, CIOs, and CISOs do more, with less," she said. "If we thought we saw dramatic change over the last two years, it will pale in comparison to what we are about to experience."
About the authorNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.