A happy new year ahead for tech workers who want to change jobs by Anne Fisher @FortuneMagazine December 23, 2014, 2:27 PM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Linkedin Share icons The job market for IT professionals just keeps getting better, especially for those with the most in-demand skills. About 75% of 800 employers polled by tech job site Dice.com plan to add headcount in 2015, an all-time high for Dice’s semi-annual survey. And they’re in a hurry. Almost three-quarters (72%) hope to expand their IT departments by at least 10% right away, in the first two quarters of the year. That could get expensive. “With hiring managers looking to bring on such a large number of new hires, candidates really have strong negotiating power,” says Dice President Shravan Goli, adding that seasoned IT pros now “have more confidence in their marketability” than in the past. It seems so: Almost two-thirds (64%) of the employers who responded to the survey said that candidates are asking for more money than they’re initially offered, and 43% of hiring managers reported having to match counteroffers from job-changers’ current companies. Some skills are more desirable than others. Demand for cybersecurity experts, for instance, has shot up 77% since December 2013. And job openings for those familiar with open-source IT automation tool Puppet jumped 61% over last year. As more businesses try to analyze and interpret massive amounts of stored information, Hadoop skills came in at a close third, with 57% more help-wanted ads than last year. Jobs for people versed in Big Data and JIRL have increased since the end of 2013 by 56% and 55%, respectively. The explosion in demand means that techies tired of California, or of big East Coast cities like New York, have more choices. “There are still plenty of jobs on the coasts, especially the West Coast, including Silicon Valley,” says Goli. “But almost all metropolitan areas in the U.S. are seeing a lot of growth.” The five fastest-growing, according to Dice’s research: Milwaukee (39% more tech jobs since last December); Nashville (24%); Hartford, Conn. (12%); Portland, Ore. (11%); and Sacramento (10%). With so much opportunity in so many places, Goli contends that tech workers who want to change jobs will need to be discerning. “To find a good fit, do as much networking as you can. If you’re learning Puppet, for example, go to Puppet meetups and forums and hackathons. Engage with that community, so you can keep up with what’s current.” He adds that “tech people tend to be a little shy about putting themselves out there. But making the right career move is all about relationships. You need to know people.” Noted.