Is it an employer or jobseeker’s market? Hint: it depends.
In ANZ, the current tech hiring market is characterised by a greater sense of caution – a stark contrast to the frenzied, candidate-driven hiring landscape of 2021-2022. However, this doesn’t mean that the hiring of and demand for top tech professionals is out the window. Those possessing coveted skillsets still hold the power.
Looking at the US, the market is in a stronger position with candidates calling the shots and employers in fierce competition to attract the best. We look into the nuances of this evolving market landscape.
Over 2023, the market experienced almost 250,000 layoffs across over 1,100 tech companies globally, resulting in a significant influx of talent to the market and more candidates available than roles on offer. Employers subsequently found themselves holding the power across numerous roles, seeing a slowdown in the unprecedented salary rises of 2021 and 2022, particularly across ANZ.
2023 saw a huge increase in supply of amazing talent onto the market with many struggling to secure work as there were fewer roles to go around. With candidate supply high and job demand only slowly increasing, organisations are in the driver’s seat to have more control over rates and salaries that are paid.
Nik King-Turner, Talent Wellington Managing Director
It’s a candidate-heavy market due to the multi round layoffs that occurred in the tech space in early 2023. We’ve increasingly seen candidates that are experienced in a set of skills applying and actively interviewing for roles that aren’t considered the same calibre as their past role. After being on the market for multiple months, we find that candidates tend to lower their expectations (including salary expectations).
Saqib Zia, Talent Sydney Candidate Manager
This salary slowdown particularly holds true for those in project services positions. Think, your Project Managers and Business Analysts, where we are seeing slowed demand, particularly across Australia and New Zealand, as companies cut costs and press pause on their projects.
In certain job categories (mainly Project Services & Change) we are seeing applications increase tenfold from 18 months ago. Competition for senior roles in Project & Change has increased across all industries with applicants getting a response to less than 10% of roles applied for.
As numerous commercial technology projects come to an end and other commercial employers choose to defer new projects, the change has been most noticeable in the Project Services space with a reduction in demand for project management, architecture, business analysis and change management skills.
Auckland’s serious weather events at the start of 2023 caused a lot of organisations to put projects on hold. Inflation then hit and there was uncertainty around the economy. Put an election in that mix and we saw a lot of employers holding on to see what was going to happen. The demand for Project Services talent therefore remains low.
Where there has been a slowdown in the market is in the Project Services space - many companies are putting their projects on hold as budgets for IT projects are being cut. Generalist IT project managers are most affected by this. Where they have been let go and previously would have been picked up within weeks, many are taking longer to secure their next role as there aren’t as many Project Services functions available for them to work in.
Senior Account Manager,
Despite layoffs and the flood of candidates in the market, the tech skills shortage remains and is only growing. With businesses seeking to leverage the power of AI, secure their cyber defences, and harness the capability of data, the demand for tech professionals to lead these programs of work has only grown. This has seen top AI, cyber, data, and software experts remain in high demand, with employers competing to secure this hard-to-find talent for their teams - and offering higher salaries to lock them down.
Employers are now, more than ever, seeking professionals with top cybersecurity skillsets such as risk and compliance, cybersecurity operations, and cloud expertise.
Talent New York
Cybersecurity professionals are still in high demand. Hands-on technical roles such as penetration testers and security engineers, are highly sought after, and we’re seeing more roles in the market than candidates available. Resultantly, salaries have remained high at post-COVID levels for these candidates.
Senior Account Manager,
Although there is malaise surrounding the broader economic climate, in the tech sector, analysis from Deloitte shows that 1.8 million new tech skills will be needed by 2030, an increase of 1.3 million on today’s levels. With demand at these levels, I feel this sector will continue to see steady employment opportunities for both permanent and contract workers throughout 2024. Much of the demand will be in security, data and AI-related disciplines.
In the Perth IT recruitment scene, we've seen big changes. AI skills are a must, and while the market has seen a shift, the battle for top tech talent remains fierce.
Andrew Mackin Brown,
Employment looks different in each of our regions. In the US, the market remains fairly steady, with unemployment decreasing to 3.7% from 3.9% in late 2023. However, as of this same time period, both Australia and New Zealand’s unemployment rates increased to 3.9%, up from 3.8% and 3.6% respectively.
In ANZ, with an uncertain economy, increasing layoffs, and growing cost of living pressures, there are more candidates on the market than before, seeing a stabilisation of salaries and contract rates in comparison to the candidate-driven market of previous years. However, things are starting to pick up in the hiring space. According to LinkedIn data, while the LinkedIn Hiring Rate in Australia decreased by 7.2% from January-June 2023, as of December, it increased by 1.7%. In the US, hiring is also up 0.8%.
As a sense of uncertainty permeates the market, particularly in ANZ, candidates are looking for greater stability in their roles, with a number seeking out permanent or fixed term positions for greater job security. In a 2023 Talent survey, 34% of contractors cited that they were open to future permanent opportunities.
With cost of living pressures and post-election flow on, there’s an element of uncertainty for people and an increased focus on security in their work. The pre-election dialogue on contractors and consultants saw some movement toward permanent roles for this sector and some downward pressure on contractor rates.
Stability and security continue to be important to candidates and longer-term contracting opportunities are much preferred.
Contractor spending cuts are also occurring across a number of our APAC regions, with our consultants noting the impact this is having on the market. In NZ in particular, the government has announced plans to cut contractor spending over the next 4 years, with the goal of reducing current spend by 18%. Resultantly, the contractor market is starting to slow, seeing greater demand for permanent candidates instead. Looking at Talent’s hiring data from October 2022-2023, federal and state government layoffs and hiring freezes across Australia have resulted in a 16% decline in contract hiring in this sector.
Demand for candidates is down and many contractors are not being extended. Government departments are also working on reducing contractor spend. Employers understand that career contractors are likely to want to go back to contracting once things pick up, so they’re more likely to come out with Fixed Term roles to prevent a sudden loss of IP.
Georgia Hynes, Talent Wellington Senior Recruitment Consultant
The NSW Government continues to look to make savings through contingent workforce cuts. Projects are being reviewed and put on hold and contract extensions bring an air of uncertainty. Some Government agencies have looked to make savings by implementing a max two-year tenure rule although this isn’t working too well as they struggle to backfill the IP with permanent employees or fixed term engagements.
Matthew Munson, Talent Sydney Managing Director
Career contractors will look at permanent opportunities for security. Employers will be trying to reduce contractor spend and fit within budgets, however, they will struggle to find talent.
Simon Yeung, Talent Melbourne Managing Director
To uncover what’s happening in your market and what you can do to get ahead, click through to your region for our local market insights:
The tech hiring landscape is changing, yet demand remains high for those with the right digital and tech skillsets. We break down what’s happening in each major Australian market.Learn more
Navigating a shifting hiring market, those who possess the right skills hold all the power. Discover what’s happening across NZ’s major tech hubs.Learn more
From the East Coast to the West Coast, we uncover the latest tech insights and growing opportunities in the hiring market across the US.Learn more