The tech and start-up industries continue to thrive in many cities throughout the United States, especially in San Francisco, Boston, and New York. Although many people are still talking about the so-called Series A funding crunch stalling seed-funded companies that have failed to gain significant traction, it's still an exceptional time to be an entrepreneur.

Why? The barriers to entry for a new tech company are a lot lower than even a few years ago because of the advancements of cloud computing and access to hosting options like Amazon Web Services. And funding is still accessible for great teams and great business ideas.

Plus, there are new financing outlets available through crowdfunding sites. For example, Formlabs, a desktop 3D printing company, raised an initial seed round of capital and then went on to raise $3 million through a crowdfunded Kickstarter campaign.

What does all of this mean for the hiring landscape this year? Competition for top-tier talent continues to be fierce.  

It's still ultra-competitive in each of the five areas I outlined last year. But I am noticing five new sectors in which it is getting extremely challenging to recruit, too:

Big Data

While 'big data' is a trendy term that, at this point, probably makes you cringe, it's also a huge reality. The amount of data that is generated in today's world is amazing. Did you know that Facebook processes 2.5 billion pieces of content and more than 500 terabytes of data each day? Yes, each day. Incredible.

Data is great. But unless you have someone who is able to build out an infrastructure to wrestle with--and make sense of--it, data is useless.

I've seen a steady increase in the demand for data scientists who have a passion for solving complex analytical problems as well as experience working with large, multi-faceted data sets.

This demand for data scientists touches almost every industry, and comes up across many functional areas within a company, not just engineering. For example, marketing departments are increasingly seeking data scientists to help develop content strategy.


Even before the iPhone, I remember each time I went to a panel discussion, I would hear: "This is the year of mobile." Now, if you're not thinking mobile first, you're likely compromising your growth trajectory already.

The demand for mobile talent is exploding, and the market for people who have mobile experience is ultra-competitive. For example, software engineers who have developed iOS or Android apps are in high demand, as are user-experience experts who know how to create a compelling design on smart phones or tablets.

Enterprise Software

Enterprise is back! The areas of growth are online business-to-business and software-as-a-service products. Need proof? Check out the October IPO of Workday, which sells cloud software for enterprise technologies. The opening day it popped 72 percent and the company's current market cap is almost $8.5 billion. Or Box, a cloud file-sharing company, which raised $125 million last year to bring its total funding to $284 million.

Many companies are actively looking for people who have past experience in these industries, and they're looking across departments: sales, marketing, product management, executive management. What's most desirable? Those who understand how businesses like these scale as well as market trends and customer requirements.

Cloud Computing

These days, you can get your company's online service up and running quickly with Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, or a myriad of other cloud providers. But if your product finds a market fit and it's a runaway success, you'll need in-house expertise to help you scale and manage cloud infrastructure and operations with a cloud host. 

As such, I've noticed first-hand more and more companies looking for engineers, architests, and developers who have experience working with Amazon Web Services, or other cloud providers. Experience with Linux systems administration is also in need.

Ruby on Rails

When it comes to web development, it's difficult to find engineers who are qualified across all technologies (PHP, Python, Java, for instance), but it Ruby on Rails talent is frequently the toughest to find. A lot of start-ups choose Ruby on Rails because of the frameworks it offers and the fast speed at which development can be done.

Many developers recognize the need, and are setting up their own web development consulting firms or operating as independent consultants.