Career agility could boost your tech career

Robert Beckley, Regional Director, Hays ANZ

Salaries are increasing in Australia’s booming technology sector as digital transformations and the need for higher headcounts fuel an already heated market. But while technology professionals are in demand, there is an upper limit to any salary a business can offer. When you next job search, don’t risk pricing yourself out of consideration. Instead, be realistic with your expectations and use today’s skills-short market to future proof your technology career by considering the full value exchange on offer from any employer.
Our recently released Hays Salary Guide: IT Edition revealed that 96% of employers in Australia are experiencing a technology skills shortage, exceeding the 91% average across all sectors. While skills shortages are evident across the technology sector, in greatest demand are Business Analysts, Cloud Engineers, Full Stack Developers, Cyber Security Analysts and Data Analysts
The impact of these shortages is acute. While 83% of employers say the skills shortage will impact operations or growth plans in FY22/23, that figure rises to 90% in technology teams.
Despite this, the chronic shortage of tech talent doesn’t automatically guarantee job search success or career progression. Your skills may be in demand, but consideration needs to be given to other benefits you might gain from a role: will you get exposure to a new technology? Does the role offer a chance to work on something you’re interested in? Are there clear promotional pathways? Any job is much more than the salary it offers.

What is career agility?

Career agility refers to how rapidly you can adapt your capabilities in response to business change, job evolutions and industry developments. It’s about monitoring trends and technology advancements that could impact your career and reacting to ensure you stay relevant.
No two careers are the same, so plot your journey based on your personal career goals. Provided you remain flexible, today’s skills shortage could provide a future proofing and skills diversification opportunity, provided you consider the offer beyond just the dollars.

How to boost your tech career

With a flexible, agile approach to professional growth, you can adapt and advance your career regardless of what change comes your way.

Maintain realistic salary expectations

Salaries are increasing in response to the skills shortage, but employers can only raise them so far. In their next review round, 85% of employers will increase salaries for their tech staff. 14% will increase salaries by more than 6% while 20% will increase by between 3% and 6%. 51% will increase by up to 3%.
However, 59% of technology employees believe their individual performance and the demand for their skills is worth more than 6%. 65% say the skills shortage has made them more confident to ask for a pay rise.
It’s clear that technology professionals have already benefited more than most from the current talent shortages – 63% say they’ve gained a salary increase, new job or both due to the skills shortage, compared to 54% of professionals overall.
But there is a limit to how far organisations can stretch salaries. Therefore, remain flexible and consider the complete value exchange between an employer and employee. This extends beyond salary to include benefits, additional annual leave, upskilling, purpose, career progression and a good relationship with your manager.
Changing jobs for a higher salary alone is rarely a good long-term career strategy move. Rather, a job that offers opportunities for progression, skills development and work-life balance, for instance, may provide greater returns over the long-term.

Consider contract roles

Technology departments offer more temporary and contract assignments than most. In FY22/23, 48% of employers will increase their use of technology temporaries or contractors, compared to the average across all departments of 37%.
Temporary and contract assignments are favoured in technology departments to meet short-term workload demands (70%), access specific skills for one-off projects or tasks (65%) and to cover workloads while a permanent employee is sourced (45%).
Temporary and contract assignments can offer many advantages. Assignments can broaden your experience, diversify your skills and build your network. During periods of change, they give you space to contemplate your future and make strategic decisions.
No wonder then that 61% of technology professionals are already, or would, consider a contracting career – higher than the 44% average.

Master change

Being agile in your career also means building a growth mindset – something that is more important for technology professionals than other disciplines.
While 35% of employers overall said they’ve undertaken a workplace transformation in the past year to take advantage of economic opportunities, this figure rises to 41% in technology departments. In Australia, transformation most commonly took the form of changes in operational structure (58%), digitised workstreams (53%) and an increased focus on innovation (50%). 
In the world of work defined by constant change, a growth mindset can positively influence your ability to adapt.

Upskill regularly

One obvious example stems from the pace of advancement in the technology itself, which creates constant opportunity for those willing to upskill. A large percentage of technology professionals are already on a continual learning journey. In the past year, 60% developed new technical skills to improve their career prospects (higher than the 45% average), while 40% developed soft skills (also above the 36% average).
Those who are not yet upskilling should prioritise regular learning. However, don’t expect your employer to be in charge of your learning. Many will, but in today’s ever-changing market, tech workers should take personal responsibility for remaining skills-ready for the future.
Consider regularly reviewing your skills to determine development areas, considering technical and soft skills. Then incorporate training into your everyday – work with a mentor, volunteer for a stretch project, join an industry association, subscribe to industry groups, attend events or webinars and undertake free online courses (such as those offered through Hays Learning).

Plan for hybrid working success

Most technology professionals work flexibly, with 83% of technology teams working in a regular flexible or hybrid working model. In addition, more technology staff (53% compared to an average of 51%) work in a flexible hybrid model, where they choose their remote and onsite days each week, as opposed to a set schedule.
We’re also seeing more technology professionals hired in fully remote roles – 45% of organisations are, or plan to, hire technology employees for fully remote roles, compared to the average of 28%.
For technology employees, the challenge will be to remain visible while working remotely. Communication is key so be willing to adapt to the preferred communication channels of your network to build relationships with stakeholders outside your department.

Be flexible when career planning

Skills shortages are prevalent, and skills gaps are expanding, which means there’s high demand for technology professionals. But successful people don't consider the skills shortage as an opportunity for short-term gain. Instead, they are strategic in their job searches and in plotting their career progression.
When you next look for a new tech job, think about your long-term career plan and adapt to current market trends and technologies. Attend online forums and industry events to stay informed of future change. Build your professional network and develop relationships. Invest in regular professional development and look for a role where you’ll build new skills. Be aware of the salary checker for your role and hold realistic salary expectations.

Download our Hays Salary Guide: IT Edition

The Hays Salary Guide: IT Edition is based on a survey of more than 4,400 organisations and 4,800 skilled professionals. Download your copy to access typical salaries and insights for hundreds of technology job titles.

About this author

Robert Beckley is a Regional Director based in Melbourne. Having worked in the Australian IT recruitment market since 2006, Robert leads the Hays Information Technology business in the ANZ region. Robert has a Master’s degree from the University of Birmingham, and two decades of industry experience.

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