IT Job Market Update – Is Racism Returning? + Updated Salary Snapshot

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In most of my newsletters I like to quote data – job ads, inflation, etc etc. However in this edition, with the market in a state of flux, I wanted to put the data to one side and gain some insight into the state of the jobs market by chatting with real world candidates. I wanted to hear from people who are actively looking for IT jobs and find out whether it’s slim pickings and they cannot find a job, or they are accepting sub optimal opportunities, or if they have numerous opportunities, paying glorious salaries in ideal roles.

However, I found something I didn’t expect, new arrivals are once again being discriminated against. That is just so 2019. Did we not learn any lessons from the pandemic?

Salary Snapshot

But first, we’ve updated our Salary Snapshot. Last week our team sat around a virtual table, discussing the hundreds of candidates who we have spoken to in the last few weeks. We interrogated our database and updated the Snapshot’s rates and salaries based on what candidates have been asking for, what they are currently earning, and the rates have managed to secure. A few rates have changed; we shaved off the top end of some of the more in demand roles where things had simply spun out of control [Architecture, Cloud (contract), Data Scientist/Analyst), trimmed some roles where supply has increased (Systems Engineer, Service Desk, PC Support) but increased a small number of roles where demand still outstrips supply (Network Engineer, Product Manager, Cloud (Perm)]. None of the changes were particularly large.


The ACT Market (and the Federal Government)

The biggest change to our Salary Snapshot was dropping our long-standing notation: “* Rates in ACT are 10% higher than listed”. This has almost exclusively been driven by the change in Government. The Albanese Government is keen to spend less money on both IT contractors and engaging consultancies. Additionally, any change of government involves a change in priorities and the winding down of some initiatives whilst planned new initiatives pass through both houses.



Whilst I think it’s a noble goal for the Federal Government to spend less money on contractors, it’s been tried unsuccessfully for decades. Why has it always failed? The rest of Australia has traditionally taken advantage of the arrival of skilled immigrants to balance supply and demand. However nearly every role in ACT works either directly or indirectly for the federal government. And almost exclusively, each role requires a Commonwealth Security Clearance (Baseline, NV1, NV2) which requires Australian Citizenship, and thus it can take several years for new immigrants to become eligible to secure most federal government or ACT based roles (permanent or contract). Further, even if you are an Australian Citizen, it can be close to impossible to secure most security clearances. So successive Federal Governments have been held hostage by the only individuals who have the skills and clearances to implement the Government’s programs. I would expect the * to be back soon.

What are the candidates saying….?

I’ve spoken with a number of recent and current IT jobs seekers and asked them to share their recent experiences.

In summary, it’s a tale of two skillsets. Technical skills are in demand, project and management skills less so. Therefore, some people are struggling, whilst others are still overwhelmed by opportunities.

And sadly, we are seeing some new immigrants telling us that both recruitment agencies and employers are discriminating against them. We have one candidate who worked for Cisco in India, has great communication skills, a CCIE, is asking for $300 a day below market and was rejected recently for having no local experience. I’ve detailed the experience of another recent immigrant, Nauman, below.



I figured that we would not return to the behaviours of the past and may have learnt some lessons from the pandemic border closures. As my co-Managing Director of Balance, Simon Hogg commented to me:

‘I thought as a country, we’d moved past this.  I’m happy to label it as racism as I’ve never seen an immigrant from the UK, USA, NZ or Canada rejected because they don’t have local experience.  I hate seeing exceptional candidates with a proven track record of success and great communication skills being cast aside just because they have not worked locally. Over the last 15 years we have observed no difference in the success rates of new immigrants, ‘locally experienced’ immigrants versus Australian-born candidates’.

Each person quoted below has worked with Balance in the last month as part of a range of job-searching activities. Some have been successful in finding a job through us, others have not. In some cases, I’ve changed their name as they have asked to keep their identity private.


Project Candidates

Nauman – Business Analyst 

 I’m newly arrived from Pakistan and have been looking since early February. I’m a Permanent Resident and I’m told that my communication skills are strong. I have applied for 150-200 roles and received callbacks from 30-40. I have had a number of agency interviews and one with an employer. I received feedback from one hiring manager that I had no local experience so he was not interested. More than 5 recruitment agencies said their customer wouldn’t consider people without local experience. I’m very frustrated, it just doesn’t seem fair. 

So if any of you good people need a BA or similar, Nauman will work any role to get local experience, he has even said he’ll work for free (we would prefer he didn’t). If you would like to talk to him and could possibly help, then shoot me an email.

Sanjay – Product Owner

“ The jobs Market was very, very disappointing. There were only 2 jobs that really appealed in 6 weeks but I applied for about 30 that have been a good match for my experience. I was looking for contract roles in Sydney with day rates over $1000. I only received 2 calls, but had 2 interviews and had 2 offers, both of which paid more than my existing role. One offer was from a bank and one from NSW Government.  The government role paid more but I took the bank as there is more innovation in that sector. 



Sandeep – Java Developer

 My contract was ending.  It took 3.5 weeks from when I started applying to when I secured a new role. I applied for about 25 jobs and went to 9 interviews. I withdrew from a few roles after the interview as they didn’t appeal. I received 2 offers but would have received another couple if I hadn’t pulled out; One of the offers was a perm role, one was a contract. I took the perm even though it was paying 30k less – it’s all about job security for me at the moment.  

Ankit – Network Engineer 

“ I arrived from India a couple of weeks ago on a 2 year visa. I’m a highly experienced and certified Network Engineer who has worked for some of the biggest global companies. I’m getting mixed responses. I’m getting some calls from recruiters and some interviews. I haven’t had any issues with ‘no local experience’ but I’m told my experience is a bit narrow.   I’m confident I will secure a job imminently. I will take first role offered.  


IT Executive

Anthony – former CIO of Financial Markets Company

 I was made redundant in December and had been actively looking for 6 weeks. I’ve had a number of interviews for some interesting opportunities. I made it to the final 6 candidates for a role with 580 applicants. I’m having the right conversations with the right companies about the right jobs. I’m confident I’ll secure a role shortly.