While the general unemployment rate hovers just under five percent, the technology sector is markedly lower at 2.7 percent, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Which such a low unemployment rate, talent in the tech field is in very high demand, and the advantage in the job market lies with the employee. As such, 32 percent of technology employers would offer a 10-to-15 percent salary increase in order to attract top talent, according to “Tech Trends: IT Leaders and the Employment Market,” a survey of 500 IT professionals responsible for key hiring decisions by Modis, a global provider of information technology staffing services.

The salary increases aren’t the only trend the study found. Thirty-five percent of employers were also willing to rehire talent that had left the company within the previous three months, and 33 percent would be willing to hire previous talent no matter how long they’d been gone, the study shows.

“Today’s employers need to be open to negotiation, and today’s candidates need to be prepared to negotiate,” says Jack Cullen, president of Modis.

Loyalty Above All

With such tight competition for talent in the IT field, it’s easy for any talented employee to jump ship at any given time. With that in mind, it’s unsurprising that employers value company loyalty in the tech sector very highly. Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new recruits is expensive enough without having to do it every six months. Hiring managers in IT are likely to look more closely at a candidate who has demonstrated loyalty in the past.

Related: Jobless Claims Hit 43-Year Low

“While the ‘grass is always greener’ mentality tends to be a common perception among highly skilled and employable tech workers, loyalty is a trait that IT decision-makers view most positively,” Cullen says. “It’s been found that candidates with tenures of five or more years at their previous posts are more attractive applicants.”

According to the study, 58 percent of respondents agree with Cullen.

When prospective employers do find a candidate that demonstrates qualities they are looking for, it’s imperative that they don’t drag their feet.

“With many opportunities available to qualified talent today, employers need to be prepared and mindful of their hiring processes and timelines to avoid missing out on this talent,” says Cullen.

Attracting Top Talent

With the candidates holding most of the cards, companies need to be able to offer more than just competitive salaries. Companies looking to attract employees should also focus on work-life balance. According to the survey, 27 percent of IT decision-makers believe employees want to work remotely, and 36 percent say workers want flex hours. For a digital workforce, those sorts of options are easy to provide and make a company appealing to job seekers.

Yet, with such a highly competitive talent pool, top talent is hard to come by. Applicants may have the advantage in negotiations, but companies still need to build successful teams. IT decision-makers listed teamwork and interpersonal skills as the skills hardest to come by in job candidates, according to the study. Candidates who can demonstrate these skills in an interview will find that they have the most bargaining chips at the negotiating table.

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