State of the Tech Hiring Market: 2019



With the start of a new calendar comes a raft of end-of-year reports, market retrospectives, and extrapolated predictions. For those starting 2019 with ambitions to switch jobs, or even change careers, over the next twelve months, now is the perfect time to begin plotting out your plan of attack. Perhaps you already have specific ambitions and goals in mind, in which case we may be able to help refine your approach, but for those just wanting to turn over a new leaf or change up their work-life entirely, taking a hard look at where opportunities exist within the market can be great tinder for the imagination.

The hard part can be sifting through the reams of content out there to find the genuinely useful information. Well, that's where we come in; market data is our bread'n'butter! Every hiring campaign that we run is based on detailed market reports and real-time analytics, but more than that, we keep a firm eye on insights coming in from the big, private datasets. As with almost every part of 21st Century society, the job market has its own giants in terms of data gathering, companies like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Stack Overflow. Their annual reports are incredibly detailed (with 100+ pages of data combined just from those three!), but largely overkill for the average jobseeker, so we've spent time pouring over them and distilling them down into the following key details for you (we're just nice like that).

So, with all that said, what are the key takeaways, predictions, and trends that are likely to impact the job market in 2019?*

* It's worth noting that this data is all very US/UK/EU dominated, as those are the traditional stomping grounds for these big tech companies. That makes it highly accurate for the UK market, but possible not so useful in other parts of the world. Also, sources can be found at the bottom of the article for further reading.

1. Tech is Still Top Dog

No surprises here, but the tech sector retains its championship belt in terms of innovation and job growth. Even a quick scan of LinkedIn's main market reports for 2019 show a majority of the emerging and fastest-growing roles are tech-centred. Relatively new sectors, such as blockchain and machine learning (both discussed in more detail below), dominate job creation rates, but similar trends can even be seen in more established roles. Application Sales Executives saw an 8x increase in role creation over 2018 (and still climbing), whilst Software Engineers can sleep easy knowing that their position has the most stable growth of any role in the world right now, with sustained year-on-year increases for four years running and a current 80,000+ open roles on LinkedIn alone.

Even outside of the traditional tech sector, related skills are becoming increasingly desirable.

The last year saw a significant jump in companies within the Finance, Education, Medical, and Retail sectors embracing digital innovations, joining the start-up scene, and generally focusing on how these areas of society can benefit from applied technical solutions. Education in particular is pushing for AI competencies, with only the more traditional software/tech sector out-competing it in 2018 for AI skill penetration, placing it ahead of industries more traditionally associated with AI, such as Networking and Manufacturing.

As companies like Walmart and Ocado increasingly turn to major investments in AI and robotics, including creating their own tech incubator offshoots, it's easy to see that even the most established brands are now choosing technology to drive innovation and market growth. At the same time, well established roles such as Account Executive are increasingly including tech skills such as Social Media Marketing, Salesforce, and Customer Success within their top priorities. That means it really doesn't matter what sector you shoot for in 2019, boosting relevant tech skills will definitely give you a solid edge.

2. Blockchain: Bubble or Boom?

Topping LinkedIn's "Emerging Jobs Report" is (drum roll please)... Blockchain Developer! Seeing 33x growth over previous years, the rise and rise of blockchain is clearly driving job creation and creating a whole new career path for those with relevant skills. Whether that trend will continue into 2020 and beyond, however, is everyone's guess. Whilst applications of blockchain technology have expanded significantly over the past 12-18 months, it's fair to say that mainstream success is still a little way off. With big names in the sector, such as the industry dominating Ethereum, still unclear over how realistic their platform's future is, it's pretty much anyone's guess right now how stable blockchain will be moving forward, though as Forbes and others state, "early signs are promising".

Regardless of the longevity of the sector, it's clear that blockchain-related roles are significantly expanding, and you definitely won't need to compete against peers with substantial career histories thanks to the technology's relatively recent emergence.

Blockchain managed to top-out Upwork's Q2 skills growth rankings, meaning plenty of people are jumping on board and readily finding work.

What's more, even if the glamour of the blockchain fails to match the real-world applicability, the skills gained will place anyone interested in tech work in an incredibly solid position to smoothly transition into back-end, architecture, or AI positions in the future. Speaking of which...

3. Automation Is Driving Market Change, And Being Driven By It

On the one hand, it's easy to fall into the doom and gloom, apocalyptic rhetoric around the ever increasing rate of skills automation in the market place. With entire industries looking at full automation within the next decade, and industry data from the likes of PwC indicating that 3% of jobs will join that list by the early 2020s (rising to 44% by the 2030s!), there are clearly some skills which are on track to becoming increasingly niche.

Most importantly for us, the tech sector is far from immune from automation's impact. Whilst tech workers are unlikely to ever be replaced by literal robots, entry-level roles, such as Data Administrators, First-Line Support, and even some Programmers, Engineers, and Data Analysts, are all well on track to be passed off to AIs. Companies are increasingly relying on chatbot services, AI virtual assistants, and machine learning to provide low-level customer support and triaging, whilst tools like Adobe Sensei, Remove.bg, and Airbnb's prototype platform that turns wireframes into functional POCs, show that an increasing number of "creative" tech roles are being mastered by neural networks.

However, automation is also driving job growth and keeping the economy ticking over. As Glassdoor points out, most developed countries are facing labour shortages due to ageing populations, which means more skilled jobs are becoming problematic to fill. As Baby Boomers continue to retire and leave the active workforce, automation could be the only option to ensure that economic growth continues apace. Automating the time-consuming parts of a job creates more time to upskill workers and enables fewer staff to complete the same amount of work.

Far from being a net-negative, automation could ensure that many companies and services can continue to grow, rather than falling stagnant trying to keep the organisational cogs turning with one too few parts.

Automation is also largely responsible for emerging roles and markets within the tech sector, with six of the fifteen fastest growing roles identified by LinkedIn being directly related to automation in some form. Machine Learning Engineer tops that chart, seeing an increase of 12x over previous years, with both Machine Learning Researcher and Machine Learning Specialist not far behind. Related roles in disciplines like data science also make the list multiple times over, with AI skills being listed within the requirements for a role 190% more in 2018 than previous years. That trend isn't just taking place within the tech sector, either, as AI, machine learning, neural networks, and predictive modelling (i.e. data science) are increasingly being seen in roles across a wide range of industries.

4. Diversity Remains an Issue

It would be wrong to purely focus on the positives of annual reports, and the tech sectors biggest source of shame remains the lack of diversity within its boundaries. On the one hand, Glassdoor put forward a compelling argument that "more companies will try to get diversity, inclusion and belonging right" in 2019, a worthy aim that focuses not just on raw numbers and staffing statistics, but also on helping people feel comfortable showing their differences within the workplace "without being marginalized for it", as well as generally creating more inclusive company cultures.

However, you just need to glance at the demographic breakdown of cross-industry studies such as Stack Overflow's Global Developer Hiring Landscape report, to see that the state of the industry right now is far from reformed. Nearly 93% of respondents (total 101,592 from across the globe) were male, and that's not just a survey artefact, with Stack Overflow also sharing information that web traffic to their site within the US follows a similar trend. Still, if corporate America is anything to go by, change could be coming from the top, with more women taking C-class positions in 2018 than previous years. That has included some top spots for high-profile women, such as Stacey Cunningham, the first female leader at the New York Stock Exchange in its 226-year history!

Arguably more importantly, with company culture becoming an ever increasing topic of conversation within the tech sector, and diversity sitting at the core of that discussion, right now is an ideal time to embody the change you want to see. Tech's past may be a little too monocultural, but wide-ranging industry trends do paint a brighter picture. In other words...

5. It's Never Been a Better Time to Get Involved

...And that's not just if you aren't a white dude! Go back just ten years, and most people in tech either had a Computer Science degree or close to a decade of experience, making entry to the sector either costly or difficult. Today, a growing number of digital-first teaching resources, bootcamps, and hackathons are offering an increasingly wide variety of ways to get involved in the community.

Whilst over half (64.4%) of professional developers surveyed by Stack Overflow still have a CS or equivalent degree, an increasing number do not. Around a quarter of respondents had participated in a hackathon, and a whopping 48.6% have reskilled or upskilled since getting their first job using online courses, particularly open-source, free options like MOOC.org and Free Code Camp. That trend is particularly prevalent in freelancers, a huge 81% of whom Upwork find utilise online education or training resources in part to keep skills sharp. Bootcamps are also becoming popular ways to retrain or obtain skills necessary to progress or start a career, with 45.5% of those enrolled already in full-time employment, and a significant majority of the rest obtaining work either immediately after graduating or within the following 1-3 months.

But it's not just that there are plenty of ways to retrain or upskill into tech work, it's that a lot of the biggest skills shortages in the sector are so-called "soft" or natural skills.

LinkedIn find strong oral communication remains the most sought after skill across all industries, particularly with relation to public speaking and giving presentations.

People management, time management, and leadership all make the top ten, with most "hard" skills being filled by tech-related requirements, such as programming, social media awareness, web development, and data science. So if you want to be best placed to take any role available in the 2019 job market, a particularly strong route right now is to start in a sector that will prove your communication and management capabilities, then retrain into a development role.

Better yet, switch sector without switching career path! Big tech companies are increasingly looking to hire outside of the tech stable. As the sector matures, and even relatively unheard of companies grow into international behemoths, their human support infrastructure has had to scale to match. That means large operations teams, more HR personnel, greater need for finance, marketing, and sales staff – the list goes on! With the tech sector remaining top of the list in terms of economic and job growth, more and more companies will filter into this category over the coming months, causing Glassdoor to predict that 43% of jobs being hired for in the tech sector in 2019 are likely to be non-technical.

Hopefully our breakdown of the projected state of the tech market in 2019 has been useful. If you are considering jumping onboard with the largest growth sector in the world right now, or even just switching lanes within it, then do check out our current openings over at Talent Point Jobs and see what opportunities catch your eye!

Alternatively, if you're looking at how best to position your company to attract top talent in 2019, please get in touch via the Contact form on our homepage. We may even have some more predictions about the most desirable and disruptive technologies coming soon, so don't forget to check back regularly.


Main Data & Statistics Sources:

  1. LinkedIn 2018 Emerging Jobs Report
  2. LinkedIn Top 20 Most Promising Jobs of 2018
  3. Stack Overflow 2018 Developer Survey
  4. Stack Overflow 2018 Developer Hiring Landscape
  5. Glassdoor 2019 Job Market Trends
  6. Upwork Quarterly Skills Index

Top illustration sourced and created with: Vecteezy


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