HUNTER was recently contacted by a Human Resources executive at one of Atlanta’s largest employers who had questions about current IT candidate market conditions. Over the last several weeks, we’ve realized that many of our clients are asking the same thing. Understanding the IT candidate pool and job seeker activity is key to clients who are beginning to execute their roadmaps post COVID. Some clients are testing the market to see how soft it is, thinking the market could be in their favor. In response, we spent time with our delivery team to get an understanding of what they are hearing and learning from candidates and how the job market has evolved during COVID. We would like to share our findings…


The active talent pool increased a lot initially due to layoffs and furloughs. As a result, we received an increase in responses to our outreach efforts, as compared to similar efforts pre-COVID. In fact, candidates are more receptive than they were 3-6 months ago because they now see the value of working with a good recruiter.

Interestingly, we also experienced a simultaneous decrease in interest from passive candidates who were no longer testing the market. We found the passive candidates were choosing to stay put to protect their jobs. Now that passive candidates made it through the first three months of shelter-in-place, we are starting to experience a positive flow of passive, highly talented candidates who are testing the market. Combined with those seekers who are more active in their job search, the candidate pool is back up to pre-COVID levels.

The most highly skilled IT professionals were not as affected by layoffs and furloughs. For example, developers (.NET, Java, UI/UX, Mobile, etc.) are still generally employed. DevOps, Automation and Cloud talent has also been challenging to recruit as most are currently working and do not want to risk leaving their perm jobs. If there was highly skilled IT talent cut due to COVID and the economic fallout, they were scooped up quickly by companies who kept hiring.

To the contrary, we are finding that less experienced IT job seekers were affected more by layoffs and furloughs, and, it is taking these candidates longer to find new jobs. We are seeing more junior level candidates on the market in general who are very responsive and aggressively looking.

Some passive candidates who were open to dialogue prior to COVID have since paused their exploring and decided to sit tight, especially those who are well taken care of at stable companies not dramatically impacted (Home Depot, large banks, etc.). Passive perm candidates who were non-existent in March/April are now starting to surface. We anticipate this will continue to increase as companies start to hire again and opportunities arise that entice passive seekers to pursue better, or more stable, opportunities.

One positive effect for recruiters is that remote working has allowed candidates to be much more receptive to answering recruiter calls during normal working hours. We are seeing the same effect on LinkedIn with an increased response to LinkedIn messages and job postings during the work day due to increased work from home. There is more privacy at home than in an open office environment, so candidates are more likely to answer recruiter calls, respond to email, reply to texts, and message via LinkedIn.


The market for mid-to-senior IT talent for “hands on” or lead roles continues to be robust. As we all know, developers have been in high demand for several years and this has somewhat shielded them from the negative employment effects of COVID. In Atlanta, demand continues to absorb developers across most categories including full stack, frontend, backend, Java, React/Angular and a recent surge in .NET. The need for qualified Cloud and DevOps talent continues to grow, including Site Reliability Engineers and any roles related to Automation. Additionally, Security and Customer Experience are also some of the most sought-after professionals.


Unfortunately, we all know that certain industries were most impacted by COVID, including hospitality, food & beverage, retail, airline and transportation. Their IT organizations were immediately impacted across all levels and all roles. With that, we are talking to talent on the market that in some cases have not been on the market for years, including IT leadership.

Outside of industry specific impacts, the hardest hit category is “functional roles,” such as generalist Project Managers and Business Analysts. These roles were cut heavily and as new openings start to surface, we are seeing more stringent, project specific requirements and slightly decreased rates. Additionally, junior positions were some of the first affected as companies did not have the bandwidth for onboarding, training and mentoring. Many internships and “first jobs” were disappointingly cancelled for IT’s youngest professionals.

Separately, international VISA holders (such as H1b, EAD, etc.) are under increasing pressure as many employers are trying to understand how international talent will be impacted in 2020 or, struggling to justify the funding required to onboard and sponsor this talent. Those contractors who are not eligible to convert to fulltime employees are exposed to COVID related budget cuts.


For now, IT salary expectations are holding somewhat steady particularly given that most Americans remain very hopeful that things will come back quickly. Opinions on this continue to evolve as we’ve seen the stock market rally in recent weeks with news of positive movement on COVID medications & treatments. We believe the IT job market is benefitting due to the overall foundation of the economy seemingly solvent and strong.

Many candidates are aware of market factors which may drive down rates, and are somewhat flexible. However, we do not see many job seekers who are willing to accept significant pay cuts. Salary expectations have not changed dramatically and often depend on how long a candidate has been searching for their next opportunity. Those who have been unemployed since March are typically willing to go down about $10-20k, particularly if they will have the continued opportunity to work 100% remote. Although these job seekers are flexible within reason, many of our recruiters are cautioning us to educate clients to keep compensation in line with market, so as not to lose placements once the market reinvigorates.

The passive job seekers who are currently working are either looking for a lateral move to a more stable company or a higher salary. They are taking these decisions very seriously and considering many factors. Talented candidates are noticing the stable employers who are taking good care of their teams and are often more open to accepting a contract role or contract-to-perm role with them than pre-COVID. As in the past few years, the ability to work remote continues to weigh heavily on all job decisions, now more than ever.


HUNTER Technical is a national IT staffing and professional services firm providing companies of all sizes with outstanding Information Technology talent, along with responsible, ethical service. Clients get exactly what they hire a staffing firm to deliver – the right candidate for the job and an excellent fit with the company’s culture.

HUNTER was founded over twenty years ago by Georgia Tech graduates on the premise that an IT staffing company should be run by “techies” who truly understand their candidate’s job search criteria and long-term career goals.

At HUNTER, we have a strong passion for recruiting top talent and serving our clients. We love what we do!

HUNTER is headquartered in Atlanta, GA with offices in Denver, CO, Austin, TX and Dallas TX.

Contact Clint Bailey at or 404-459-7373 for more information.




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