"We're always looking for the most skilled people, the most talented people, who are capable of inventing the
future, not just doing the same old type of work that's become a commodity -- fixing code, testing code that
someone else wrote, that someone else invented," said Beckley.
The number of people who can meet that criteria, said Beckley, is small, "so we don't have a huge labor pool to
pick from coming out of the top schools."
The competition for these candidates can be fierce. Beckley says a venture capital-funded startup outbid him by
$42,000 in salary for one candidate.
Appian wants people who have been exceptional performers. For a new college graduate, that might mean having
built an app that's available in Apple's App store.
For a more experienced pro, one thing that might get Appian's interest is someone who has contributed to an open
source code base and has received positive feedback for it.
The company has hired 40 employees this year, and may hire another as many as 60 by year-end. It employs about
John Flaa, vice president of client services at Vettanna, a San Francisco-based staffing firm that also manages
workers at client sites, mostly Fortune 500, says job seekers face increasing challenges.
There has been a shift by clients in the last few years in the type of person they want to hire, said Flaa.
Clients would once ask for someone, for instance, with Python experience but put it in "nice to have" category.
"Now it's must have Python experience," he said.
Employers are often seeking combinations of skills, experience in multiple languages, and "that's when
experience gets really difficult," said Flaa.
"There is a general feeling out there that there are lot of people out of work and that people should be happy
to get a job -- any job -- so they raise their level of criteria in interviewing," said Flaa.
Analysts offer varying interpretations of U.S. employment numbers as they pertain to the IT labor force
depending on how they count service and consulting jobs.
The U.S. experienced a net gain in 80,000 jobs last month, another month of weak hiring. That included a net
gain of 8,200 IT jobs, from the prior month, said Foote Partners. They see this as continuing evidence that IT
professionals are "desired and being hired."
Not so, says Janco Associates, another firm that tracks that IT labor market. It said it only counted 3,400 jobs
or 4.25% were in IT. They see weak growth.
But the analysts do seem to agree that it can be difficult market for job seekers.
Foote says the skills most in demand with employers "may be elusive to large numbers of unemployed and
underemployed tech workers."