How has the pandemic impacted the search for jobs in technology? Specifically, for our software developer graduates? These are important questions we at Momentum, a Durham coding school, have recently been receiving.
The short answer: COVID-19 certainly has affected the market for jobs in technology. And Momentum has adapted accordingly.
Like the US job market in general, we saw the market for Junior Software Developers slow down in early 2020. This presented a challenge for our graduates in their search for jobs in technology.
For some perspective, consider that since mid-2018, the US unemployment rate was consistently below 4% until March 2020. However, due to the pandemic the unemployment rose to a high of 14.7% last April (Source: BLS). At that time, companies known for regularly hiring software developers suddenly paused on onboarding new hires while recruiters who filled these jobs in technology saw their open job requisitions disappear as if overnight. Some recruiters reported the loss of as much as 90% of their requisition load.
In these current times, we’ve observed 3 things to keep in mind as you consider a search for jobs in technology:
1. Landing Jobs in Technology During the Pandemic Takes Time
A key difference in hiring trends during the pandemic is how long it takes to secure a job. The good news is companies are back to hiring software developer roles. As a job seeker though, you can expect the process to take longer than pre-pandemic norms.
To illustrate this, here’s some data on the length of times our grads are spending job-seeking: Momentum software developers who graduated right before the pandemic spent an average of 50 days job-searching before landing a job offer. In comparison, those who graduated at the peak of unemployment and economic uncertainty in April 2020 saw the average length of their job search extend to 96 days. The majority of these April graduates now have jobs in technology despite the fact that it is taking more time.
An encouraging trend: graduates who completed our Durham coding school in the second half of 2020 are finding success a faster rate than those who graduated in April 2020. Take for instance our software developers who graduated in August. Over 50% of them now have jobs in technology with an average salary of $64,500. We hope to see hiring rates continue in this direction and the time-to-hire decrease in the coming months.
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Graduates who completed our Durham coding school in the second half of 2020 are finding success at a faster rate.
2. The Job Market is Improving, Slowly
The Momentum graduate experience in the current job market is closely mirroring the data for tech employment in North Carolina. According to NC TECH, IT job postings declined 27% between March and May 2020, decreasing to 22.7K open IT jobs in May. But in November 2020, the tech market recovered to 28,120 job postings.
3. “This is Already Double What I Was Making Before”
We’re thrilled to see Momentum graduates still landing jobs in technology during the pandemic, especially amid such challenging times, and we continually celebrate them. The skillset our software developers graduate with enables them to land jobs that change their lives and those of their families. I encourage graduates to negotiate their compensation package when they receive a job offer. A common response I hear from them is, “But this is already double what I was making before.” This is another reason why the career services support Momentum offers is so important: We want all of our graduates to know the value of their skillset and to feel confident asking for it accordingly. Even in these uncertain times, hiring managers understand the value of the software development skillset and are willing to negotiate with you.
Bottom line: We tell our students to be prepared for a job search that lasts 4-5 months at this time. We hope to see this return to a more normal, 3‑month timeline soon. As we continually learn more and adjust in these ever-changing times, being transparent about our jobs data and setting appropriate expectations is important to us at Momentum.
Job Searching Requires Commitment
A job search requires a job seeker to be actively engaged on a daily basis, working on different approaches to move the job search forward. This is true under any circumstances and especially now during the pandemic. That’s why our Durham coding school employs a very structured career services process that coaches students through the entire job search process. We cover everything from how to identify job opportunities and build a target company list to technical interview preparation and salary negotiation. Momentum also has a graduate community who actively engages with our students to assist with networking opportunities and leads for jobs in technology.
We focus on helping our students stand out in the job market from other candidates. This means offering guidance on showing up to an interview well-prepared and making the most of informational interview opportunities. We encourage our graduates to build their professional networks, be active contributors in the tech community, and continue to build on the solid technical training they learned in our Durham coding school by keeping up with ongoing projects.
Join Us for an Event
Momentum regularly hosts virtual events and Meetups to discuss jobs in technology, how our coding school works, and ways to learn new tech skills. Join our next event and talk to our team and graduates about how we can support your tech career. You’ve got this! And we’ve got you.