Wal-Mart made waves last week when it announced it was closing 154 US stores and another 115 across the globe. Never mind this only represents a tiny fraction of the physical footprint for a company that operates about 11,600 stores, 4,600 of which are in America. It’s a “rare retreat” for the retail company on its home turf, as a Wall Street Journal headline read. And it’s a further signal that online shopping is becoming more of a focal point for Wal-Mart.
“Faced with slow-growing sales and the shift to online shopping, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has been pouring money into e-commerce activities and store employee wages, moves that have depressed profits and its share price,” the WSJ wrote last week.
Another sign that Wal-Mart is making an e-commerce push? Along with Amazon and other notable tech heavyweights, it’s one of the top companies posting jobs for software developers, applications.
In October, Oracle, Amazon, Robert Half International (a staffing agency), and Microsoft made up four of the top five companies advertising for app developers, according to Emsi’s job posting analytics. IBM and Wal-Mart weren’t far behind in unique job postings. By far the highest posting intensity—the ratio of total to unique postings—belonged to Microsoft, at 24-to-1. Oracle, which lapped the field in unique postings, was at 13-to-1. (The general rule: the higher the intensity, the harder a company is searching for talent. Note, however, that just because a comany posts an ad for a job doesn’t mean it will fit it; one posting could lead to filling 30 jobs or 30 postings could lead to filling one job.)
Wal-Mart would love to chip away at Amazon’s online retail dominance, and attracting top-shelf software developer talent—especially coaxing that talent from Amazon—would be a big step toward doing that.
Software developers, applications (SOC 15-1132) is one of the fastest-growing high-wage occupations in America and the source of some of the fiercest talent wars that companies wage. Jobs for app developers jumped 21% from 2010 to 2015. There are now more of these developers (an estimated 728,000) than police and patrol officers (691,000) and lawyers (617,000). And that total only includes app developers who work as employees for firms; not those who are primarily self-employed or work on the side.
Several indicators point to companies struggling to find app developers. As Emsi showed in an infographic on the best jobs for 2016, the gap between unique (de-duplicated) job postings and hires for app developers stood at over 80,000 between January and September 2015. There were nearly four unique postings for every hire.
Silicon Valley is the epicenter for developer talent, and that’s reflected in Wal-Mart’s posting practices. In October, 14 of the top 15 cities in which it posted jobs ads for app developers were in the Bay Area. No. 15 was its home base of Bentonville, Arkansas. (Wal-Mart posted 16 unique ads in Bentonville compared to 216 in San Bruno, California.)
Meanwhile, Amazon posted the bulk of its app developer job listings in Seattle, where it’s headquartered and where there’s a healthy supply of tech talent. But it also scattered postings across the nation, at least much more so than Wal-Mart.
Note: The following chart combines job postings for Amazon.com, Inc. and Amazon Corporate LLC.
Job posting data can only tell us so much, since companies recruit for open positions via other means. But based on its location and years of being at the top of online retail world, Amazon would seem to have an advantage over Wal-Mart in attracting developers and other tech workers. Nonetheless, Wal-Mart is investing heavily in job postings for app developers as part of its renewed e-commerce strategy. And it’s more than a one-month trend. From July to October, Wal-Mart more than tripled its job postings for app developers.
The war for tech talent between Wal-Mart and Amazon looks like it’s just getting started.
- For talent acquisition professionals, this is a textbook example of how job posting analytics can help you understand industry and company competition. Combined with traditional labor market data, JPA can help support and drive talent strategy, whether your company is looking at new locations or seeking to focus its recruiting efforts in favorable talent markets.
- For economic and workforce development professionals, this type of job posting detail is valuable business intelligence. Understanding a local company’s posting patterns—and its competition—can help you see how hard it’s looking for talent and can lead to stronger employer engagement. It also can help pinpoint where potential skill gaps or surpluses exist in your region.
- For colleges and universities, gleaning skill needs from local companies through job posting analytics in conjunction with traditional LMI can help lead to new or revamped program offerings that bolster business productivity and economic prosperity in your region.
A version of this article appeared in Forbes on Emsi’s contributor page.
Data for this comes from Emsi Analyst, specifically Emsi’s job posting analytics report. For more on Emsi’s labor market and job posting data, please contact us. Follow Emsi on Twitter (@DesktopEcon) or check us out on LinkedIn and Facebook.