Tech Industry Sees ‘Cautious Optimism’ For Hiring And Recruiting In 2024

Augusts Jobs Report

By Ringside Talent Partners

January 17, 2024

The tech industry is undergoing significant shifts, with a growing emphasis on outsourcing talent, skills-based hiring and an increasing demand for artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists.

Research reveals a growing desire for remote work, conflicting attitudes toward AI in the workplace and a shift in hiring from senior workers to junior and mid-level programmers.

Workforce Sentiment

According to a survey, employers expect to invest in technical hiring in the next 12 months, with slightly more ambitious hiring goals than last year. “2024 will prove that technical hiring is still very much alive and well.” Twenty-six percent of tech recruiters anticipate having a higher recruiting budget in 2024.

However, companies in the United States still find themselves grappling with economic uncertainty. To help keep costs down, more than half of hiring personnel plan to source international talent.

We anticipate this to be a year of “cautious optimism, as companies strike the balance on a more sustainable level of hiring.”

Given the job market volatility within the tech space in the past two years, 21% of developers feel less secure in their jobs, up from 17% the previous year.

Despite hiring uncertainty, nearly half of tech workers say that they are thinking about leaving their jobs in the next 12 months. They are seeking a competitive salary, work-life balance and remote opportunities. As more employers are calling workers back to the office, the desire to work from home (31%) is up from 28% last year.

While money is a primary motivator in switching jobs, compensation is not a top reason as to why programmers stay in a role. The key to retention is work-life balance (38%), great peers and collaborators (37%) and exciting challenges (27%).

Challenges developers are facing in the workforce are a lack of stability, clear direction and growth opportunities. Despite wanting to fast-track their careers, 36% of tech workers expressed not wanting to take on a managerial role. To retain talent, companies must carve a path for advancement within their organizations that include non-managerial opportunities.

In-Demand Skills

Skills-based hiring will be significantly widespread, with 80% of companies open to hiring programmers with non-academic tech backgrounds. Traditionally, full-stack, back-end and front-end developers are amongst the highest in demand within the tech industry. The survey found that more recruiters (21%) are prioritizing the hiring of machine learning and AI specialists.

This year, there will be an emphasis on sourcing junior to mid-level engineers. Recruiters report a decreasing demand for more experienced tech workers, with only 18% looking to hire senior developers. This dropped from 31% last year. The pullback in hiring senior-level talent could be due to the fact that these workers are generally more expensive. In a belt-tightening environment, employers will look for ways to cut costs and one way to do that is by finding cheap labor, like junior talent.

The survey highlights the increasing importance of soft skills, with the majority of both developers (78%) and recruiters (81%) stating that soft skills are at least as important as hard skills in evaluating software engineers. However, 20% of recruiters cite challenges in effectively evaluating these crucial attributes.

The Ascension of AI

Programmers and recruiters have complicated feelings regarding AI. Almost two-thirds (67%) of tech professionals already use AI as part of their job, with 70% believing that AI will help reduce their workload. Developers are using AI for code assistance and debugging, learning and tutorials and code generation.

The survey reveals that 43% of programmers are optimistic about AI in their daily work, while 27% are neutral, 23% are skeptical, and only 6% are worried about the technology’s impact on their career or job prospects.

Of the developers who aren’t using AI on the job, 29% said that they don’t trust the technology, while 28% indicated their employer disapproves of it. A quarter of tech workers find AI to either be unreliable or inefficient. They are reluctant to “turn over” their work to AI, as they find it to be “lazy,” “unethical” and ruinous to their skill sets.

“There’s been a lot of hand-wringing and dire predictions about whether AI will render developers obsolete, but this is nonsense. Are developers using AI tools to jumpstart coding? Yes, nearly 60% are, we know from our most recent research. This is good. It means developers are that much faster and more efficient. And doing more interesting things than the rote, mundane tasks.”

AI can help to strengthen technical and critical-thinking skills, “If AI can create code for you, developers will have to develop skills that reflect a more strategic, almost editorial role. They’re going to need to look at code and see what’s missing or how code can be more robust or efficient. Can AI rewrite this to use less processing resources? Is there a security vulnerability that can be tightened? In some ways, developers will need to be even better at identifying opportunities, flagging issues and ‘seeing around corners,’ which are higher-order skills.”

Despite employers frowning upon the fast-growing technology, over a third of recruiters and hiring managers say they use generative AI in hiring, primarily to write job descriptions, prepare interview questions and communicate with candidates throughout the hiring process.


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