IT roles have drastically outnumbered the qualified tech pros who can fill them for so long that it’s become an easy subject to tune out. Yes, Portland’s technology skills shortage means more opportunity for professionals such as yourself, but progressing your career within this climate is much more complex than that. To thrive in today’s new Talent Economy, it still requires market knowledge and adaptation.
Tech pros in Portland are affected by a series of national and local trends and statistics. The area’s overall unemployment rate of 3.6% is a record-low since 1990, with employment 1.3% above the pre-recession peak of 2006. However, the national IT unemployment rate of 2% more closely reflects Portland’s technology skills shortage. Studies show that the U.S. economy will require 100,000 new IT professionals per year over the next decade, but only 60,000 of these IT pros enter the workforce each year.
The scene in Portland is a microcosm of the IT industry as a whole. After all, there’s a reason it’s referred to as the Silicon Forest. Venture capital investment in Portland clocked in at $467.4 million in the first half of 2018 alone, already making it a record year for area startups. Each week sees the expansion of the tech industry here, whether it’s a smart city tech research center at Portland State University or a landmark blockchain venture studio. All this activity increases demand for already scarce IT pros.
Faced with a candidate’s market, Portland tech employers are adapting to industry changes in order to keep their workforces fully staffed and maintain growth. These hiring initiatives directly affect the type and amount of career opportunities at your disposal. Businesses are increasing their incentives, including offerings like more vacation time, flexible working hours, telecommuting options, and paid training. They’re also changing permanent positions into ones better matched to the gig economy, making it a lucrative environment for consultants.
Portland businesses are also offering higher salaries to attract talent. Tech wages increased 6.5% last year in the area, a larger increase than any other U.S. city outside Philadelphia. Further, salary growth is highest in the tech niches of big data, cloud, and process management. Consider expanding your skill set into one of those areas if you’re looking for the biggest salary bump.
Your options for IT employment might be more abundant than ever before, and there may be many dollar signs attached to them, but it’s still necessary to sift through and vet the opportunities in your inbox. Unfortunately, this is harder than ever with so much noise in the industry. Most opportunities you see from recruiters won’t even match your skill set, and for even those that do, it takes time to consider a number of questions:
While area employers increase their usage of temporary IT talent, it presents an opportunity for tech pros to capitalize on. In fact, choosing consulting work over traditional, permanent IT positions grants a number of benefits within Portland’s growing gig economy, many of which can be achieved by partnering with a proven staffing firm:
There are numerous thrilling happenings in the IT world, with many taking place inside the Silicon Forest. Portland’s technology skills shortage is promising for tech pros who are enjoying the power that comes with being in-demand, but it still takes a great deal of time and effort to vet opportunities and adapt accordingly. Put in the legwork, and the IT career of your dreams can become a reality.