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Computer science grads fielding 'multiple job offers'

Ann Bednarz, Network World | June 1, 2011
It's good to be a computer science major. Job prospects are rosy for today's graduates, who are entering the workforce at a time when tech hiring is on the rise and talent is hard to find.

"There are easily two or three jobs for every computer science grad. Easy," says Anne Hunter, academic administrator for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "There's definitely an emerging tech boom."

For its research Dice compared the number of open tech jobs to the number of computer-related graduates and found that 18 states and Washington, D.C., have fewer graduates than open jobs.

These talent shortages are not only in tech-centric areas such as Silicon Valley but also in states that aren't obvious tech magnets, such as Arizona. "The recovery, which started in the big areas like Silicon Valley, has now spread to all of these other places," Hill says. "That's true for new grads as well as for any tech pro looking for a job."

This gives new grads an advantage that has been scarce in recent years: leverage.

"If you're a computer science degree holder, this is probably the best year to negotiate hard and maximize that first starting salary," Hill says. "The jobs are there, and it's really a good position to come from when you're negotiating."

That hasn't been the case in recent years. Nationwide, the average salary of a technology professional with less than two years experience fell 3% in 2009 and another 3% in 2010. This year the average entry-level technology salary is $47,000 - and likely to climb. "We definitely think the decline will stop," Hill says.

There's also some good news for experienced tech workers, who haven't fared very well on the salary front in recent years, either. The average technology professional's salary has been essentially flat for the last two years, inching up from $78,845 in 2009 to $79,384 in 2010, Dice reports. On the positive side, 49% of tech pros received a salary increase and 29% got a bonus in 2010, compared to 36% who got raises and 24% who got bonuses in 2009.

Poaching season

The technology talent gap isn't likely to shrink this year or anytime soon - which puts companies at risk of having their best IT people poached.

The majority of candidates who are working with recruiters like Winter, Wyman are tech professionals who have jobs but are looking for better positions.

"Ninety percent of our candidates are passive job seekers. They're hunkered down somewhere working," says Winter, Wyman's Kasmouski. "There are enough opportunities out there, and enough of a variety of them, that all of a sudden people are realizing they could get a job closer to home, or they could work with a technology they've wanted to work with."


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