IT Staffers say: "Show Us the Money!"

A new survey reveals that IT staffers are restless and dissatisfied. They want more money and more respect – and they’re taking action.
Posted September 6, 2006
By

James Maguire

James Maguire


A majority of IT professionals are restless and dissatisfied with their job, and a remarkably large number are actively seeking new positions.

That’s the chief finding of a recent survey of 1,200 IT workers conducted by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

The survey finds that an eyebrow-raising 58% of tech staffers are actively looking for another job. Not surprisingly, the biggest driver for these job searchers is money: 73% list higher pay as their goal.

But the dissatisfaction runs deeper than money. “Obviously money is an issue, but you’ll see that there are other things: lack of advancement, lack of support for continuing education, feeling under appreciated,” CompTIA spokesperson Steven Ostrowski tells Datamation.

Beyond money, the reasons for the job hunt are:

• No opportunities for advancement, 64%

• Want a new challenge, 58%

• Better benefits, 41%

“Rapidly Starving to Death”

The survey allowed IT professionals to write in their own reasons for looking for a new job. These write-in responses are some of the most revealing descriptions of job dissatisfaction in the tech industry.

Plenty of staffers wrote, “I want to stop contracting.” Desire for steady full-time work was prevalent. Lay-offs were often mentioned. “Still recovering from layoff – 12/31/2002!” wrote one worker, and “I only work part time after being laid off.”

Another common response was “shorter commute to and from work.” Other complaints included “current employer unorganized,” and “better staffing, less hours.”

One tech worker complained that he or she is “working for a non-technical manager,” and another needed just one word to state their complaint: “overworked.”

The most vivid reason for seeking a new job was “I’m rapidly starving to death with the low wages.”

”Boss Could Take His Medication”

The survey asked respondents what “one thing” – besides money – their employer could offer to induce them to stay. Echoing the initial reason for the job hunt, ”opportunities for advancement,” at 31%, was the leading answer.

Tellingly, though, the answer right behind that was “greater respect or appreciation,” at 16%. In other words, about one out of six IT workers might stay if they simply got a decent pat on the back.

When asked “what else” employers could offer, the issue of respect came up once again, at 38%.

The other “what else” wish list items included:

• Increased learning opportunities, 41%

• Financial support for training and education, 35%

• Time off for training and education, 34%

• Greater consideration of IT requirements and expertise during business planning processes, 27%.

The respondents’ write-in answers in the “what else” wish list included plenty of requests for more staff. “Larger, more qualified staff,” wrote one respondent. Another requested: “hire second systems admin to help me support 185 servers at two data centers.”

In a bad sign for employers, the most common write-in answer was “nothing.” That is, there was nothing an employer could do to retain that worker.

Some respondents were more explicit: “will not stay no matter what” and “nothing they could do would make me stay.”

The most desperate write-in complaint was “boss could take his medication for bipolar disorder.”

Improved Job Market Creates Mobility

The improved IT job market, noted in this report, seems to be prompting more tech workers to examine their options.

“Our skills development people have been hearing anecdotally that now that the market is loosening up a little for jobs, people who have been in one place for the last three or four or five years are really ready to move on and look for other things,” Ostrowski says.

Moreover, “It’s not just people working in the traditional IT companies,” who are job hunting, he says. It’s also tech workers across many industries: education, government, finance, healthcare – “it’s pretty broad.”

The degree to which workers will succeed in finding new employment depends, of course, on their skills. Employers find certain resume line items irresistible at this point. “Anything with security is hot, wireless is hot, project management skills are hot," he says.

But whatever the tech skills, changing jobs remains one of the surest ways to increase income as an IT worker, as noted here.

Many tech workers expect the job market to grow still more favorable in the years ahead. Even in the face of the ever-growing trend toward outsourcing, 48% of respondents agree “there will be a shortage of skilled IT workers within the next five years.”

But there’s plenty of disagreement on this issue – 27% feel there will be no shortage. And 25% say “neither,” which may simply suggest that many workers realize it’s hard to predict the job market’s future.

For those looking for work (as well as for employers looking for staffers), CompTIA offers a TechCareer Compass page that lists online job banks, job descriptions, and information about tech certifications.






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