Life in the tech sector has become a little jittery. High profile companies, including Microsoft, Google and Meta, have hit the pause button on recruitment while hiring intentions in Ireland’s indigenous tech sector have also cooled. Tech aside, however, hiring sentiment remains strong with a noticeable amount of movement at senior manager and C-suite level, especially in the public sector.

Commenting on the Irish jobs market in a post for LinkedIn in May, economist Austin Hughes noted that there was a significant pattern of labour redirection going on here, with people moving to different companies and on to different career paths as a consequence of the “substantial structural changes wrought by the pandemic [that] generated switching opportunities for a cohort of well-educated and flexible workers”.

What is also changing are skills requirements for jobs in some sectors, including IT services and software. The latest Labour Market Pulse (produced by IDA Ireland, Microsoft and LinkedIn) shows that demand for skills in Jira, Kubernetes and Python is now stronger than demand for traditional skills such as SQL and JavaScript while digital literacy is fast becoming a must have for jobs in non-traditional technology sectors such as retail and education.

Pent-up frustration

Sonya Boyce, head of HR consulting and organisational development practice at Mazars, says there is no shortage of people keen to change jobs for reasons other than normal career progression. These include pent-up frustration post-lockdown, a reassessment of values and work-life balance in the aftermath of Covid and, probably the strongest of all, the pressing need to earn more money to cope with the rising cost of living.

“By moving job, people have been able to secure quite significant pay increases and we are seeing situations where people are pulling out very late in the interview process because they have been playing potential employers off against each other to get the best outcome,” Boyce says.

“Resourcing is still definitely the number-one issue for most organisations and the average vacancy rate is somewhere between 1 and 4 per cent, which is quite significant. In addition to the availability of traditional jobs, we are also seeing new roles emerging in areas such as sustainability and ESG which are catching people’s attention.”

The lure of a new job is exciting but jumping ship isn’t always plain sailing. Kathryn Minshew, founder of New York-based careers platform The Muse, describes the gap between what someone is expecting from a new job and what they actually get as “shift shock”.

Minshew says that almost two-thirds of American workers have changed employer only to find the job was different from what they were led to believe. “It can be a big problem to be hired into a role with one set of responsibilities and then be expected to perform another, or to join a company culture that turns out to be cliquey when you were sold on the idea of camaraderie,” Minshew wrote in a thought leadership piece for Bloomberg in March.

Expectations not met

“New job regrets are disruptive for workers and employers alike. Roughly 20 per cent of jobseekers say they would quit within a month if their new job isn’t what they expected, and another 41 per cent would give a new job just two to six months before quitting. Eighty per cent agreed it’s acceptable to leave a new job before six months if it doesn’t live up to your expectations,” adds Minshew who says this attitude signals a generational shift, driven by Gen Z-ers and millennials, who take the view that the employer-employee relationship should be two-way.

What may also have contributed to the disconnect between job expectations and reality over the last two years in particular is remote hiring. During Covid, interviews were largely conducted via video which made it a lot harder for people to gauge the culture of a prospective employer.

On top of this, not all recruiters were as honest as they might have been as they were desperate for staff. Now that those remote hires are filtering back into the office, they are finally experiencing the organisation they joined at a distance up and close and personal. Quite simply, some don’t like what they see and have decided to move on.

Sonya Boyce says that while some hires just don’t work out, jobseekers can minimise the possibility of this happening by doing their homework on the role, the company and the sector. “When assessing a career move it’s important to think about protecting your existing CV. You need to think holistically and not make a move that is going to look at odds with your experience to date and your long-term career goals,” she says.

Boyce adds that things are also changing in terms of the recruitment process. A CV and a covering letter used to be enough to start the ball rolling. Now employers are increasingly looking for extra input, often in the form of video presentations and pitches, which are included as part of the initial application.

“If this is the case there is quite a lot of preparation involved and candidates will rule themselves out if they don’t take it seriously,” she says. “The same goes for documents such as covering letters. Covering letters speak volumes especially if someone hasn’t bothered to tailor their letter or application for the job in question. This clearly signals they have given no real thought to the role.”