Nick Canzoneri, an infrastructure engineer at GitHub, has seen his professional market value increase steadily over the course of his 10-year career in tech.
"Anywhere I've applied I've gotten responses quickly," Canzoneri told CIO Dive. "Especially in the infrastructure space, I think it's just a common skill set that's applicable to a lot of different companies now."
Amid a talent crunch that's lowered unemployment to near zero in certain areas of technology, and some analysts expecting a deeper talent drought for the coming years, Canzoneri's awareness of demand in his field is indicative of a broader trend: technologists are coming to the negotiating table with a clear picture of what their skills are worth.
According to a recent survey from human resources consulting firm Robert Half, 82% of professionals in tech say they feel well-informed about what their compensation should be. That awareness is spread somewhat unevenly between men and women, with 87% of men and 76% of women saying they're well-informed.
With the uptick in demand, the balance of power in today's job market is shifting to the candidate's side when it comes to their job hunt and salary negotiation, according to Ryan Sutton, district president at Robert Half.
"It's an interesting shift because you see candidates are doing their research," Sutton said, in an interview with CIO Dive.
Employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act have protections in place that allow them to freely discuss salary with colleagues, effectively banning pay secrecy. Additionally, bills passed in New Jersey and Maine prevent employers from asking employees about previous compensation.
A demographic shift led to culture changes in today's workforce, Sutton said. Increased presence of millennial workers indicates job-hunters are more likely to explicitly seek out what they want.
"They've said they're less fearful from making bold moves in the workforce than the previous generation," Sutton said. "There's times when that works to a candidates advantage, others where their emotional quotient (EQ) needs to evolve."
Among workers aged 18 to 34, 67% say they discuss salaries with colleagues, compared to just 54% of professionals aged 35-54 and 38% of those 55 and older, according to the survey's results.
Ultimately, the dearth of highly-skilled workers is what tips the negotiation in favor of job seekers.
"The volume of open roles for these skills outpaces the talent pool 10 to 1 sometimes," said Sutton.
To make sure their offer letters get signed, employers have a couple of strategies:
- Proactive salary assessments: Most employers focus on the current and past market value instead of looking at current and future salary ranges. The better strategy, Sutton said, is to project 3-5 years into the future and stay ahead of the curve. Otherwise, companies risk pricey turnover increases.
- Faster, more granular salary assessments: Managers are often frustrated by the lethargic process of determining salaries for specific roles, Sutton said. Leadership should take specifics into account when, for example, one candidate is more in demand because of their skill set.
Canzoneri's real-world experience offers an additional piece of advice. Attractive perks aimed at professional development, like education budgets and conference stipends, can help round out a compensation package nicely, the technologist said.