Tech Jobs in the Time of COVID

Woman typing on a laptop in a datacenter.
Photo: iStockphoto

By: Tekla S. Perry

While it will be hard to have a real sense of the impact of the coronavirus and stay-at-home orders until mid-year tech job statistics are in, job search firm Dice unpacked its usual first quarter report on changes in the engineering job market to try to identify early effects.

The firm compared demand for the months of February and March, and discovered that, in many U.S. regions, overall demand for tech professionals jumped when the coronavirus began impacting our daily lives. According to Dice’s report, Silicon Valley saw double digit growth in job postings between February and March—likely due to demand for “products and services vital to remote work and life, from messaging software to email and cloud platforms.” Raleigh, N.C., experienced an even bigger boom, as did San Diego, Calif. Art Zeile, CEO of DHI Group, Dice’s parent company, notes that, “In San Diego, Qualcomm, Booz Allen Hamilton, and General Atomics all bolstered their hiring from February to March. In Raleigh, top employers IBM, Wells Fargo, Red Gat, Deloitte, and Lenovo all had significant increases.”

The coronavirus pandemic had varying effects on demand for specific parts of the tech sector, according to Dice’s analysis. The biggest jump was seen in the cybersecurity category, which was up 20 percent over the period. Growth in demand for .NET developers and Systems engineers also saw a double-digit jump. Front end developers, by contrast, faced a significant drop in job postings, likely, reported Dice, because employers are cutting back on new projects to focus on their core products and infrastructure.

Specific tech skills in demand also changed significantly as companies responded to the coronavirus pandemic. Demand for engineers with Ruby expertise fell a dramatic 30 percent, and demand for those with Web development skills dropped 25 percent. Postings seeking experts in Git, Microsoft C#, and JavaScript also fell. (Oddly, overall demand for people with .NET skill was lower despite an increase in demand for .NET developers.) Meanwhile, interest in tech professionals with experience in systems engineering, devOps, and scrum all jumped significantly.

In terms of individual employers of tech workers, Amazon’s hiring pace made the biggest jump March over February, followed by Cisco, Walmart, and Parsons Infrastructure. The aforementioned companies face increased demand, given that they can support remote shopping and telecommuting.

Setting aside the impact of the coronavirus, Dice also considered the first three months of 2020 vs 2019. In that analysis, the job search firm found that the tech skill experiencing the biggest jumps in demand were nearly the opposite of the February/March change, with Web development on top, followed by Git and .NET.

Top Tech Skills Sought In Jobs Posted During First Three Months of 2020:

Q1 2020 Rank

Skill

Change over Q1 2019

1

SQL

31%

2

Java

28%

3

Software Development

17%

4

JavaScript

25%

5

Python

28%

6

Project Management

20%

7

Linux

13%

8

Oracle

25%

9

Git

63%

10

Microsoft C#

35%

11

Scrum

33%

12

Information Systems

20%

13

DevOps

45%

14

Quality Assurance

19%

15

.NET

57%

16

SQL Server

25%

17

UNIX

12%

18

C++

-2%

19

Agile Development

30%

20

Unit Testing

31%

21

Web Development

79%

22

AngularJS

51%

23

Systems Engineering

18%

24

Atlassian JIRA

39%

25

Systems Administration

20%

Source: Dice Tech Jobs Report/Labor Insight Jobs

This article originally appeared in IEEE Spectrum on 5 May 2020.