Supply, demand and talent constraints in the cloud workforce – CIO Dive

Guess how many recruiting pitches cloud architects receive any given week. Now take that number and double it. 

Whether through email or calls, M. David Peterson, cloud architect at MasterControl, receives as many as 20 to 30 contacts per day from people inquiring after his resume. 

If he doesn’t recognize the number, he doesn’t answer. “It’s always a recruiter,” Peterson told CIO Dive. 

Peterson’s experience isn’t uncommon, he said.  “There’s high demand and there’s just not as much of a pool to draw from.”

Inquiries can come in all shapes and sizes. From calls to job ads on LinkedIn, cloud specialists know they’re in high demand. It’s a candidate’s market, where companies eager to fill positions have to lose the rigidity of dated recruiting practices to bring talent in-house. 

In its cloud computing job market snapshot, job listing search engine found more job posting than interested candidates, an imbalance which places pressure on an already constrained market. Companies are eager for cloud experts, giving an advantage to candidates searching for new jobs. 

While software engineers remain the most in-demand tech job, cloud computing related-skills are a large part of Indeed’s top 20 most in-demand tech skills, Doug Gray, SVP of Engineering and Internal Platform GM at Indeed, told CIO Dive in an email. “Docker even ended up being the fast-rising tech skill on Indeed over the last five years.”

For the top cloud providers AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, the number of cloud job postings has steadily increased between October 2015 and October 2019, according to Indeed data. In the four-year period, AWS saw 232% increase in job postings and Microsoft saw a 302% increase. 

Jobs for Google Cloud saw the biggest leap, up 1,337% between 2015 and 2019. 

Filling niche roles

IT is a ripe market for open jobs, even with a slight dip in tech-sector hiring in December. The number of job openings was down from November, but IT had more than 313,000 openings, particularly in the software and application developers, according to CompTIA data

With niche pools of candidates, where there is “low supply, high demand,” companies have to be creative, Michelle Cass, SVP, client services at Randstad Sourceright, told CIO Dive. 

If companies want to fill specialty roles, it’s really about speed to market and nimble strategies, she said. The ability to quickly navigate the hiring process, especially for candidates fielding multiple offers, removes one barrier to entry.​ 

Cloud specialists have skills in common. For example, when companies look for AWS specialists, they may also seek skills on Azure, according to Indeed data. 

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While there are differences between the cloud providers, “there are many overarching elements that lead to transferable skills,” Gray said. And with companies adopting multicloud strategy, having experts in-house who understand other cloud environments is lucrative. 

Working around constraints can create a fair amount of creativity in the recruiting process and lead to brand ownership. Candidates have choices and want to work for companies with missions, not the ones spouting canned, corporate jargon. 

Companies have to strategize hires farther out, cultivating recruits over time, Cass said. It reengineers the recruiting process — if a company finds talent, it may not fit current needs but could work in the future. 

While companies don’t want to hire someone who knows nothing, they can recruit fo attitude and aptitude to learn a new skill on the job. There are times when companies can be “really, really picky” with tech hires, Jim Johnson, SVP, Robert Half Technology, told CIO Dive. “There are times, and this is one, where you have to be flexible.”​

Companies cannot expect someone brand new to the cloud to run an enterprise environment, he said. But companies can teach technology and invest in staff to mature skills and increase retention. 

The tight talent market also requires organizations to articulate whether they should buy a solution rather than build in-house, or create the potential for reskilling existing employees to fit emerging needs. 

At MasterControl, employees have worked on the technology stack they’re using for 10-15 years, Peterson said. The only problem? The skills are not cloud-based. 

It leads to a choice: Train existing talent or go get new talent. 

Technically speaking, if MasterControl had 20 to 30 “extremely experienced” cloud developers on staff, the company might be able to finish its transition from monolithic apps to microservices architecture in the next year, Peterson said. “As it sits right now, realistically we’re not going to be in our first beta release for another 3 years.”

Hiring en masse, while appealing, is implausible.

MasterControl doesn’t do visa sponsorships and/or hire out of college — it requires a minimum of five years of experience, said Peterson. MasterControl places a high value on its core employee base, emphasizing social life, activities and a positive work environment. 

The largest constraints have to do with the Utah job market. Based in Salt Lake City, there is a growing technology workforce emerging on the “Silicon Slopes,” but the market is not yet mature. 

Outside of specialty areas such as security, there’s no point heavily recruiting in the cloud, Peterson said. 

Instead, MasterControl is investing in staff and developing skill sets in the cloud internally. 

“Honestly it’s the only way to do it,” Peterson said. “The staff just don’t exist.” 


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