Tech Recruiters Sweetening Offers to Lure Workers

Since May, almost a third of IT recruiters have had to sweeten their offers to tech professionals in order to get them to sign on with a new company.

The No. 1 sweetener, as might be expected, is more money. But flexible working arrangements, including telecommuting, and commitments to new technologies, also rank high as talent attractors.

“Money is important,” says Tom Silver, senior VP/North America for Dice. But other incentives can be compelling, he adds, especially to those candidates who live in metro areas, where telecommuting might be worth more than a few extra dollars.

Workplace flexibility “is a big deal,” says Silver.

Dice released the results of a late August survey of 1,357 recruiters, consultants, and staffing firms who look for IT professionals on

Although 69 percent reported they haven’t needed to improve candidate offers, the other 31 percent said they have. And the No. 1 reason — cited by half of them — is that the labor pool is getting smaller as IT hiring picks up. Another 22 percent of recruiters who have sweetened their offers say they had to because “technology professionals are still hesitant to leave their current employer.”

Silver says the tightening labor market for IT is due to a pickup in hiring. Since August of 2009 Dice has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of openings advertised on the site.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics bears out what Dice is reporting. In July of 2009, the job openings rate for information occupations was 1.8. A year later, it was 3.5. For the private sector as a whole in the U.S. the rate in July was 2.7, up from 2.0 a year ago.  (The job openings rate is the ratio of openings divided by total employment plus the number of job openings.)

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Hiring, on the other hand, is about the same as it was a year ago. The BLS puts the hiring rate at 2.6 for information workers in July versus the 2.7 rate of July 2009. For all private sector workers, the rate stood at 4.1 versus the 3.9 of July 2009.

Those numbers suggest that IT recruiters are increasingly having a hard time finding the talent they want. Silver says that after money, a powerful attractor for tech professionals is the nature of the work and especially the opportunity to be involved with new and emerging technology.

In tech, he says, “the skills and skill requirements are always changing.” Workers want to keep abreast of those changes and improve their skills, so recruiters who can offer those opportunities — the “latest and greatest,” Silver says — are at an advantage.

Indeed, the Dice survey shows that after money and flexible working arrangements, recruiters offered the opportunity to work with new technology as an incentive. Among all recruiters — those who have had to sweeten offers and those who haven’t — company culture is their favorite selling point, followed by the type of projects.

What this should mean to a recruiter is that money is important, but flexibility and challenging projects can be deal-makers.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


1 Comment on “Tech Recruiters Sweetening Offers to Lure Workers

  1. I am a little concerned about the actual data behind this report. While I do not question the fact that salary increases are happening, I question the fact that it is due to a pick up in hiring. In the course of marketing and selling IT recruiting services, I have had very few people respond with any indication that they are increasing hiring or engaging further outside resources. Given DICE is primarily used by staffing agencies, I have a feeling that the multiplier factor is at play rather than actual positions being created. For example, a major bank has 20 preferred vendors – they have 10 openings which they push out to all or most of those vendors, the vendors turn around and advertise the same job opening (X10) on DICE and send the requirement to their sub-vendors who also advertise on DICE. In an effort to win the commission over others, they then “sweeten the pot” to pull the best candidate forward. So really, one position – advertised 20X. Not indictative of market tightening, just increased selectivity.

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