Why Amazon may struggle to fill its HQ2 jobs

Amazon is coming to Northern Virginia with thousands of high-paying IT jobs to fill, at a time when other companies are struggling to find enough qualified candidates to fill their own IT job openings.

Nationwide, IT employment in March actually ticked down a fraction, according to Alexandria-based TechServe Alliance, a national trade group for the IT and engineering industry. In the past year, IT employment has grown just 0.16%.

TechServe said stagnating IT employment industry job growth is almost entirely a supply side phenomenon, with an ongoing shortage of qualified IT professionals that has become a huge obstacle for businesses — including Amazon.

“They will absolutely face headwinds. Perhaps not as much as other employers, but they are going to have difficulty in terms of the many high-demand skill sets,” Mark Roberts from TechServe Alliance told WTOP.

Amazon does have advantages when it comes to attracting talent for its HQ2 jobs.

A recent survey of Washington area IT professionals by Arlington-based Eagle Hill Consulting found 71% would consider leaving their current employer to work at Amazon.

The top reasons cited were better salary, more interesting work and a more progressive company.



The arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 will not make hiring any easier for other Washington-area companies.

“It means more competition, and I think those employers need to be self-reflective and ask themselves, ‘Are we a preferred employer? What are we doing to be attractive to an individual who may have many, many opportunities,'” Robert said.

While salary is the top motivator for selecting a new job, it is not the only one. TechServe said smaller companies that may not be able to match on pay can shine on benefits like work-life balance and flexibility.

Some job seekers also look beyond clearly defined pay and benefits.

“A lot of IT professionals very much care about the mission of an organization, so certainly, if you’re a nonprofit or have a particularly worthy mission, I think that is helpful too,” Roberts said.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up