Hares and tortoises – the status of IT jobs now, and looking ahead

When the KPMG/REC quarterly report on jobs lands in March, I fully expect to see a repeat of the observation...

Matthew Foot
3 min read Reading Time
4 March 2021 Date Created

When the KPMG/REC quarterly report on jobs lands in March, I fully expect to see a repeat of the observation from December; permanent placements down across all sectors – apart from IT and Engineering.

In fact, IT and Engineering will buck all other sector trends despite the most recent lockdown. And unlike other sectors, starting salaries will be higher, candidates will be more scarce and vacancy numbers will be up all driven by the flow of investment generated either from larger businesses upgrading IT systems and solutions or through the vast amount of personal investment pouring into the sector through various funding organisations.  


The KPMG/REC report relies on feedback from managers, but another primary source of information is the number of adverts placed in the UK for IT professionals. These numbers show us that the average advertised salary for Developers across the UK in the three months to March 2021 was £55,000 (£47,500 excluding London vacancies), which represents a 5% rise on the same period in 2020, with a 55% drop in advertised vacancy numbers. When those vacancy numbers recover fully I would expect the average salary to rise even more.  That’s assuming of course that advertised jobs do return to the same levels as there are only very specific skill sets and salary levels in the IT world where adverts have a chance of working. 

Hares and tortoises 

Hiring in IT is operating at two speeds which makes not only for a dynamic and exciting environment but also a slightly bewildering one for those in what might be considered the slow lane. ‘Fast lane’ businesses are high growth, expanding on the back of customer demand for their products or services and having to scale rapidly to keep up. Often these businesses are driven by aggressive investment milestones that must be hit, supported by dedicated recruitment teams reaching into the market directly and via partner recruiters to snap up talent that they are willing to pay well for, such is the need to have them on board.  

IT vacancies

Conversely, businesses with recruitment practices and processes that may have served them well as recently as 2019 now seem pedestrian with cumbersome and long-winded selection processes alongside strict salary scales likely leading to significant frustrations in the market; especially when competing against businesses that may not even be profitable yet, but can pay better salaries.

What does this mean for candidates?

This is a great position for candidates to be in and understanding these market dynamics should play a key part of managing your careers. Considerations might include the type of company where your individual career goals are best served, where your personality would fit best and the type of company you are likely to feel most comfortable in as the ‘hares’ aren’t for everyone. 

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