10 IT jobs most difficult for employers to fill

From cybersecurity pros to DevOps engineers, the 2018 State of the CIO report reveals which IT roles are most difficult to fill.

Sharon Florentine Jun 11th 2018
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The 2018 State of the CIO report finds, after years of discord, IT and business are finally learning how to effectively work together to drive strategic initiatives and accomplish shared goals. To do that, of course, organizations need IT talent — but some roles are harder to fill than others.

Jobs related to cutting-edge technology such as AI, VR and machine learning can be so forward-looking that education programs can’t keep up with pipeline demands, while others such as cloud, application development and enterprise software simply have too much demand for the available supply.

Finding and retaining IT talent requires organizations to think outside the box and focus less on finding that perfect hire and more on keeping candidates and current employees engaged, motivated and eager to learn new skills, says Melissa Person-Ashforth, CEO of Melissa International.

“For me, sure, it’s about finding the right skills, but also knowing that treating my employees well by compensating and rewarding them means they’re happy,” Person-Ashforth says. “That means they’re making a concerted effort to go the extra mile for customers, to keep pushing to learn more and acquire new skills.”

Culture, too, is an important piece of the puzzle, says Sherri Douville, CEO of Medigram. As a fast-growing startup, Douville says culture is the key to making sure she can attract, hire and retain the right people. “We don’t have a big issue hiring for IT roles, but our culture is a huge part of that. We aren’t trying to transform or change an existing culture, which can make it tougher for existing enterprises and legacy firms,” she says.

Salary, of course, is still at the top of candidates’ list of must-haves, so hiring for any IT role requires keeping up with market rates. But focusing on benefits, perks and culture can help you attract, hire and retain even the toughest-to-fill IT roles.

Based on the 2018 State of the CIO report, here are the top 10 hardest IT jobs for employers to fill so you’ll know where to expend extra efforts when hiring.

1. Security/risk management 

More than a third (39 percent) of respondents say they expect difficulty in finding appropriate skillsets to fill security and risk management positions, according to our State of the CIO research. “Cybersecurity protections should be your No. 1 priority, always,” says Person-Ashforth. “So many times we see clients avoiding this until they have a breach; our approach is that you’ve already had one — you just haven’t found it yet.” As GDPR regulations go into effect, this area, which already sees talent shortages, is one of the most important priorities for IT departments to fill.   

2. Business intelligence and data analytics

Thirty-six percent of respondents say filling business intelligence and data analytics roles will be difficult. Knowing how to gather, process, analyze and act on the vast amounts of business intelligence and data that flows into businesses every year is a crucial strategic area; it’s a major competitive differentiator in a digital economy.

3. Cloud integration  

Twenty-one percent of respondents say they expect difficulty filling cloud integration roles. And as more organizations move from on-premises to cloud deployments, the need for cloud integration talent will only continue to grow. Whether integrating with legacy systems or migrating between cloud providers, it’s a critical IT skillset.

4. Application development            

Whether developing applications for internal corporate use to further business objectives or developing applications for external customers, this area is another critical IT function that’s facing a shortage of skilled talent. Some organizations are turning to low-code development to help ease the pressure; 20 percent of respondents say they’ll have problems filling application development roles.

5. Enterprise software (ERP, CRM)

For large enterprises, ERP and CRM solutions are necessary to ensure efficiency, stay within budgets and, of course, communicate effectively with customers, and 19 percent of respondents say they will have difficultly filling enterprise software roles. “This area’s especially important to us, as we’re using Salesforce to manage and measure the effectiveness of campaigns as well as next-generation digital marketing platforms,” says Person-Ashworth.

6. Artificial Intelligence (AI)             

There’s major buzz around AI lately, especially in how it can help businesses be more efficient and the ways in which it will impact or eliminate certain roles. Talent skilled with building, monitoring and maintaining AI will be in high demand as this technology evolves and matures. Currently, 18 percent of respondents say they anticipate AI roles being hard to fill.

7. DevOps/agile processes

Every company is an IT company nowadays, and the vast majority are involved in some kind of software development to make their business run, whether that’s their sole operational mission or if they’re just leveraging software to enhance their main line of business. DevOps and agile are both software delivery methodologies that make it easier and faster to craft and deploy software while maintaining close adherence to customer and end-user requirements every step of the way. Seventeen percent of respondents say it will be difficult to fill DevOps/agile roles.       

8. Internet of things (connected devices, sensors)

Sixteen percent of respondents say they’ll have difficulty filling internet of things (IoT)-related roles, including roles that involve building, programming, monitoring and maintaining connected devices, sensors, and everything else that goes into the IoT.        

9. Enterprise architecture 

Digital transformation and disruption rule in today’s technology world, and enterprise architecture can help proactively and holistically shape an enterprise’s response to these forces by identifying a company’s existing structure and strategy and plotting how to best direct that to come out ahead of the competition. These roles are critical for any forward-looking enterprise that wants to remain a market leader, but 16 percent of respondents say they will have difficulty filling enterprise architecture roles.

10. Cloud services 

Whether public or private, cloud services enable ubiquitous access to shared pools of configurable and customizable resources offered to customers via the internet. With more and more organizations accessing one or more cloud services, the demand for talent with experience delivering, troubleshooting and managing cloud services is on the rise. Currently, 16 percent of respondents say they will struggle to fill cloud services-related roles.