It’s no secret that consulting is a viable, if not preferred, option for many information technology (IT) professionals. While professionals who take on long-term work do reap benefits from full-time positions, those who focus on consulting work often have unique opportunities and a faster turnover on assignments—allowing them to stay relevant in the industry and constantly hone and sharpen their skills.
Furthermore, many permanent IT positions take a while to fill, as employers seek candidates with very specific skill sets and backgrounds. Consulting opportunities, however, often snatch up talent quickly. According to Lisa Samson, a Director at ES Technology, a division of The Execu|Search Group, 40% of IT professionals are actively looking for new jobs. “Our clients are finding the hunt for talent to be even more difficult and many are having to increase hourly rates offered to consultants to fill critical roles,” she says. “As a result, the IT field is experiencing a candidate-driven marketplace in which unemployment is nearly obsolete, giving job seekers an excellent opportunity to take on consulting work and brush up on their skills.”
In the consulting realm, three major branches of IT are especially in demand: big data, mobile app development, and security. Lisa’s findings show that The Execu|Search Group has seen a 25.8% increase in job orders requiring these skills over the past year.
“Big data has been transforming the way businesses utilize their data to make decisions for years now,” she says. “As a result, the demand for professionals who are well-versed in this technology are in high demand, but the speed at which businesses have adopted big data means there isn’t much supply to meet that demand.” In fact, a study from Gartner late last year revealed that approximately 73% of businesses surveyed either already use big data, or plan to invest in big data by 2016—a 64% increase from just 2013. As for The Execu|Search Group’s clients, they’ve been expressing an increased need for this skillset as well: since last year, job orders for professionals with big data experience has risen by 44%.
Similarly in-demand is experience with mobile app development. More businesses than ever are now investing in mobile apps to reach customers and improve user experience, and need professionals with a working knowledge of different frameworks (e.g., iOS, Android, etc.), as well as a variety of programming languages (e.g., Objective C, C++, SDK, and Ex Code). Professionals who choose to work in a consulting capacity have an excellent opportunity in mobile development to either specialize in a specific industry or broaden their experience to include several industries, since businesses ranging from healthcare to retail are now utilizing this technology.
While security has already experienced a similar rise in needs, an outside factor has also acted as a catalyst for further growth: earlier this year, President Obama put forth an Executive Order, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, which encourages the government and private industry to collaboratively increase focus on cybersecurity issues. “In light of the skyrocketing use of big data and the infamous Sony and Target hacks last year, candidates with security experience were already in high demand,” says Lisa. “Now, with the President’s new Executive Order, this demand is only increasing.” This is another field in which candidates can acquire a broad range of industry experience, especially in financial services, which needs security teams to manage and maintain compliance initiatives.
The one thing these three skills all have in common? These are all constantly evolving skill sets that require a lot of hands-on experience to learn; therefore, many turn to consulting work to keep up-to-date on the technologies and relevant in the job market. For more information on consulting—particularly in high-level positions—take a look at our whitepaper, “Spotlight on the Consultant: High-Level and in High-Demand.”