Can a job market be hot even if a city’s economy is not? That’s certainly the case for Houston’s IT job market, which has become even more competitive despite the recent oil and gas downturn. Companies that don’t fully understand the dynamics of Houston’s IT job market mistakenly assume that because of the downturn, specialized talent is easy to hire. As a result, companies fail to set appropriate search and salary expectations. They may even alienate top talent with low-ball offers, causing positions go unfilled for six months or longer. A realistic understanding of the marketplace and a shift in recruitment strategy can help your company avoid making these same mistakes.

Understanding Houston’s Competitive IT Market

As a Senior Executive Search Consultant specializing in IT recruitment, I routinely work with companies that don’t realize the hiring game has dramatically changed. Many hiring managers continue to assume that due to years of oil and gas layoffs, there’s a glut of available talent searching for jobs. In fact, the opposite is true: IT unemployment rate in Houston is less than one percent.

This means two important things for your candidate search. First, top talent is already employed and well compensated, and very few of these individuals are actively looking to change jobs. As a result, most hiring managers find that the individuals applying for positions via job boards lack the desired qualifications or experience. While it’s always possible to find a diamond in the rough, job board postings are more likely to yield second and third-tier candidates. If you want to hire specialized talent, you’ll need to go straight to the source and actively recruit this talent away from their current companies.

To succeed in this competitive market, hiring managers must follow a smart, strategic approach to recruitment. Here’s how your company can stand out from the competition:


  1. A competitive salary and benefits package is a must.
    At a minimum, if you want to recruit top talent away from the competition, you’ll need to offer a salary that exceeds the current market rate. Meeting this salary threshold is the just the start­– benefits packages are where your company can truly shine. For example, with out-of-pocket health care costs rising, job candidates will pay attention to companies that cover 100 percent of their employee’s health care premiums. In fact, I worked with one sought-after candidate who only accepted an interview invitation after I shared details of a potential benefits package that included a generous health plan.
  2. Focus on your hire’s needs.
    In addition to providing a competitive salary and benefits package, make the offer even more appealing by tailoring it to your hire’s needs. For example, Houston traffic is notoriously terrible and even short distances can be painful, hour-long commutes. Offering candidates the ability to work from home twice a week or adopt flexible in-office hours will signal that your company genuinely cares about their quality of life. If a candidate will need to relocate for work – even if that’s just moving a short distance – always provide relocation assistance. These benefits don’t cost much and they’re key to differentiating your company from the competition.
  3. Be mindful of your company’s reputation.
    Is your company a desirable place for IT talent to work? I recently worked with a top candidate who was reluctant to accept a generous offer because the company’s management had a reputation for putting up institutional barriers to IT projects. From complex software development projects to cloud security initiatives, IT professionals already have their hands full. Top talent doesn’t want to battle upper management for project buy-in or funding on a regular basis. Use the interview process to emphasize your company’s commitment to IT excellence and support for the new hire’s initiatives.


IT professional unemployment rate in Houston is under one percent. If your business having a difficult time finding the right hire, an executive recruiter can help connect you with specialized talent and craft an offer that meets your hire’s expectations. Email me at to learn more about how I can help.