Where the Jobs Are: PayScale Lands New Board Member, Exposes Three Trends in Human Capital

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areas,” Metzger says. In 2009, “those were areas where you saw some modest increases.” And he adds that he’s seeing those trends play out in the Seattle area.

But Ferracone cautions, “There are some ‘spot hot’ areas, I think that’s right. We’re not seeing the whole market being hot.” She also pointed out that these are U.S. trends; the job market in China, for example, may be hot in very different areas.

3. More companies are pushing performance-based pay structures.

“There’s more and more interest in the [small and medium-size business] market in trying to create simple but efficient pay per performance,” Metzger says. “We’re just beginning to hear it from companies we didn’t hear [it from] a couple years ago.” And tying compensation to performance is not just hitting the management and sales ranks, but also software developers, he says.

Companies are “trying to provide a focusing device and a path to paying someone more,” Ferracone says. “Equity incentives took a big hit at the executive level. This year, with levels moderating, we’re seeing a bit of reinstatement in equity awards at the executive level.”

The reason for this trend, besides companies’ desire to get what they pay for, is “to have more alignment between the workforce and business goals, and a more rigorous approach to making decisions on who are the long-term keepers on your talent team,” Metzger says. “If you’re successful in doing that, you reduce the operating risk around your organization.” And for employees, he says, it provides better transparency and feedback on what it takes to be successful, and how the business is doing.

Overall, Metzger says, “organizations are gradually moving out of a defensive posture and into an offensive posture” when it comes to human capital. They’re looking for more effective ways to manage their talent. And one last trend that jobseekers should be aware of: Metzger says that in conversations with customers, “their strategy is to overinvest in their development and sales teams, and hover at market [levels] for the rest of the teams.”

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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