Atlanta Tech Job Market

The three or four years post-web meltdown were ugly.  A glut of technology talent was unemployed, unengaged and looking for companies to call home.  Today, this city’s employers and recruiters are posting jobs on Dice containing pleas punctuated with exclamation points:

“You will have the ability to work from home twice a week, work for a manager who is hands off and very smart …!” or “Are you sick of the “corporate grind” and ready to truly feel like you can have an impact on the technology, products, and overall financial success of your employer… and be truly appreciated for it?!”

Thinking San Francisco, Austin or Seattle?  Maybe, but these appeals stem from Atlanta.  The Georgia gem is experiencing a surge in technology hiring that can be measured by job postings on Dice – which hit a new peak just a month ago and are currently up 24 percent year/year.

“The Atlanta market has a great combination of Fortune 100 companies all the way down to start-ups and they all seem to be hiring right now,” said Chrissy Petri, Operations Manager for Colibrium Partners, a technology company founded just seven years ago in Atlanta focused on solutions for the health insurance industry.

According to the Dice Salary Survey, average salaries for Atlanta’s tech workers totaled $82,235 in 2011, relatively flat year/year.  But job demand moves first and with these growth rates, employers should expect compensation to jump next year.

Joe Trivisone of Trillium Technical, a staffing company with an office in Atlanta, says his forward-thinking clients are already there, especially in the contracting space.  “They must be prepared to pay a premium for top talent especially for assignments that are less than six months.” Another sign of a strong market:  employers have broadened their searches to include out of market talent and are offering relocation assistance on some direct hire positions, added Trivisone.

Asked to name the most difficult skill-set to fill today, southern-based tech hiring managers and recruiters ranked Java, .NET, and mobile talent at the top of the list.  Ms. Petri is mainly focused on .NET and Mr. Trivisone agrees on mobile – iOS and Android as expected, but there is also a burgeoning requirement for Windows 8 mobile talent.

The mobile space has added another factor to the market:  Call it the Instagram impact.

“When a company with 13 employees gets sold for a billion dollars and they have a product that is not particularly difficult technology–wise, a lot of people decide to start a business,” says Bill Leahy, Director, Division of Undergraduate Instruction, College of Computing at Georgia Tech.  And that’s just fine, Georgia Tech is increasing its emphasis on entrepreneurship and support for start-ups.

The university has always played a role in supplying Atlanta with technical talent new to or just joining the workforce.  But, more new grads are charting their own path.   “Some students are deciding to try their hand at a start-up and are not entering the normal recruiting cycle,” added Professor Leahy.

If it sounds like Atlanta-based companies with tech needs may be fishing for talent in a pool that’s destined to become a puddle, hang on for a moment. Added Ms. Petri of Colibrium Partners, “If you build a reputation as being a great place to work, you can keep a steady pipeline of potential candidates.”  Exclamation point.