Want a job in information technology? Your best bet is to learn to code. According to a Dice.com survey, four of today’s top five most-sought-after job skills are developer-related.

Results of a hiring survey released by Dice.com this week reveal that Java development continues to be the No. 1 most desired skill for hiring managers and recruiters, followed by mobile, .NET and general software-development skills. The No. 5 skill is security.

These top four skill sets are familiar results to past surveys, according to Dice.com’s Managing Director Alice Hill, as they are “hard to fill year after year.”

A Gap Between Employees and Employers

The reason for these recurring talent gaps? For one, the market.

Hill cites an explosion of job openings within the mobile sector, as new opportunities are being created faster than positions can be filled. Similar demand in the Java sector, brought on by another explosion in big data and Hadoop-related jobs, is putting the pressure on recruiters to find candidates to fill those slots.

“Recruiters are all chasing the same talent pool,” Hill explained.

But there are also some things that hiring managers could do to make their lives easier - and hire more job seekers.

Employers Must Be More Flexible

“Right now, most managers are using a sweet spot of anywhere from two to 10 years' experience. The problem is, everyone else is looking at that same sweet spot of candidates,” Hill said. “So we advise employers to look for someone a little younger or older.”

Dice.com also recommends employers be a little more flexible on salaries and benefits. Sometimes a candidate might take a pay cut in exchange for flexibility like telecommuting, she said.

Right now, that isn’t happening. Hill’s report estimates an unemployment rate for technology professionals of 3.5%, because of the talent gap and because “companies are largely sticking to their terms. Sometimes the pay is unacceptable. Sometimes the requirements are for fantasy candidates.”

Potential employees also can’t rely on employers to give them on-the-job training anymore, either. The report indicates a continuing reduction in formal corporate training. Candidates, she suggested, “should grab opportunities and take on new projects in their current jobs to stretch themselves and get experience.”

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