Tech Hiring Strong Despite Pandemic

In a few short weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed how we work. Teams used to in-person standups and closely knit, in-office setups are now working from home. Companies are trying to reconfigure their tech stacks, remote-work policies, and cybersecurity profiles in order to meet this new reality. 

With the latest Dice Job Report, our analysis of the first-quarter jobs data suggests that, as much as employers in every industry are affected by the outbreak, there’s still a pressing need for technologists who can help guide companies through these uncertain times. The Job Report offers further insight into the quarter’s top employers and an extensive breakdown of in-demand skills, so it’s well worth checking out.   

The first quarter of 2020 overall showed strong growth, with a significant increase in tech job postings over the first quarter of 2019. Although the initial April data indicates slightly less tech hiring, it will require additional monitoring to understand the true impact of COVID-19 on the overall tech job market (especially since weekly hiring volume often fluctuates).

With all of that in mind, which occupations are seeing the most interest from recruiters and hiring managers? For the following analysis, we found it useful to look at February (the ‘pre-COVID’ period) and compare it to March, when states went into lockdown and the vast majority of companies began instituting work-from-home policies.

Key Jobs 

Despite COVID-19’s impact on the economy as a whole, many tech occupations are enjoying a steady rate of hiring. According to data from Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, job postings for cybersecurity engineers rose 20 percent between February and March, indicating a pressing need on employers’ parts to defend their employees and networks. In a time of dispersed workforces, cybercriminals have jumped at the opportunity presented by COVID-19, with pandemic-themed phishing and cyber-attacks rapidly proliferating.

Job postings for .NET developers and system engineers rose 12 percent and 11 percent between February and March, respectively, which suggests that companies are putting an increased focus on maintaining their network and computer infrastructure amidst altered circumstances. Developers who specialize in .NET may find themselves building and maintaining apps for security, data access, and user interfaces (among other functions), which means they may face a lot of work as companies evaluate what their current tech stack needs right now to survive and evolve.

The sudden rise of all-remote offices creates an additional complication; engineers and sysadmins must figure out how to keep broadly dispersed networks of employees productive and secure.  

In a similar vein, a 6 percent rise in DevOps engineer postings suggests that businesses are still intent on ensuring their software stack remains up-to-date and reliable in uncertain times. In addition to building and testing, DevOps engineers are frequently tasked with maintaining and automating legacy apps and systems, another vital function. In coming months, more employers may seek cloud engineers in order to further build out and secure their existing cloud infrastructure, including e-commerce portals, which require deeply skilled teams to maintain and update.   

While occupations such as software developer and graphic designer showed significant growth in Q1 (36 percent and 19 percent, respectively), they both saw a decline in job postings between February and March (-8 and -17, respectively). This suggests that many employers are de-prioritizing new projects to focus their efforts on their core product offerings and infrastructure maintenance. However, those jobs could easily re-enter a growth trajectory once companies finalize their new strategies for the rest of 2020 into 2021. Check out the following chart, which breaks down weekly posting trends for key occupations in 2020:

Key Cities 

Tech hiring remains strong in many cities throughout the U.S., not just the major tech hubs of Silicon Valley and “Silicon Alley” (i.e., New York City). Up-and-coming tech cities such as Raleigh, NC, San Diego, CA, and Arlington, VA all enjoyed significant gains. (In the case of those three cities, that should come as little surprise: Raleigh has a vibrant startup scene and plethora of research institutions; San Diego also hosts its share of startups and contractors; and Arlington is a growing tech hub thanks to the federal government and the upcoming Amazon “second headquarters.”) 

Texas also remains one of the nation’s primary tech hubs. Between February and March, Austin enjoyed 13 percent growth, with businesses including IBM, Charles Schwab and Advanced Micro Devices all hiring in high volumes. Dallas saw three percent growth in that same month-over-month period, with Deloitte, Salesforce and KPMG topping the list of employers looking to hire.

Bigger cities also seem to have weathered the outset of COVID-19 fairly well. Job postings were essentially flat between February and March in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. Boston, which is also facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, may have experienced a decline in job postings month-over-month, but enjoyed strong growth year-over-year. Here’s a weekly breakdown of tech job postings by city:

For a bigger breakdown of the quarter’s tech jobs landscape, download the Dice Q1 Job Report. As the outbreak progresses, and the tech industry (as well as the world) adjusts its business needs amidst new ways of working, we will continue to see how employers will react to best equip their business and maintain their bottom line.