Robert Half Says IT Hiring to Be Solid in Q1 2008
December 10, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
If you are going to be looking for a new IT job in the new year, then your prospects would seem to be pretty good if the recent surveys by Robert Half Technology are any indication. As was the case in the fourth quarter of 2007, IT managers are still pretty optimistic about hiring in the early part of 2008.
RHT is a subsidiary of Robert Half International, the $4 billion Menlo Park, California, staffing and consulting company that was founded in 1948, that is a publicly traded company, and that is the largest employee staffing and consulting company in the world. The company’s various divisions issue quarterly hiring planning reports for different industries. For the IT reports it issues, RHT polls more than 1,400 chief information officers in the United States for data, and only looks at companies with 100 or more employees in total. So this data really reflects the core midrange and enterprise customer bases, not the small business segment.
According to the latest Hiring Index and Skills Report, which discusses hiring and firing plans for IT shops in the first quarter of 2008, 82 percent of the shops polled by RHT say they have no plans to change their IT staff in the next three months, with another 13 percent saying that they are going to add people and only 3 percent saying they plan to make cuts. The next 10 percent of those IT shops who are hiring is a bit down from the expectations in the fourth quarter of 2007, when about 14 percent of the same IT managers said they planned to increase their personnel roles and only 2 percent said they were making cuts. So there has been some slight diminishment in hiring expectations along with a slight increase in firing expectations as the new year begins. Considering the wobbliness of the economy in some sectors–particularly in the financial services and housing markets in the United States–this is actually a remarkably small impact. And that is good news, when you consider that IT shops are often one of the first places where companies start making cuts when their businesses run into a rough patch.
“Companies are investing in a range of technology initiatives, including Web 2.0 development, wireless communication, and network security,” explained Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of RHT, in a statement accompanying the hiring index report. “Firms recruiting IT professionals to support these projects are looking for talent with the right mix of technical expertise, industry-specific experience and soft skills.”
As has been the case for a long time, Windows server administrators are in the highest demand among IT shops (including both Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003, not limited to just the latest Windows version), with 74 percent of the CIOs polled saying they were looking to hire Windows admins. Networking is the second-hottest job area in terms of the growth in hiring–just as it was in the fourth quarter of 2007–and 70 percent of CIOs said they were hiring in this area in the first quarter of 2008. Database managers were cited as needed by 59 percent of CIOs, followed by firewall administrators by 54 percent.
According to RHT, companies in the Middle Atlantic states (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) are the most eager to hire new IT personnel, with 20 percent saying they are going to add staff and only 3 percent expecting to cut employees. In the West South Central states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas), 16 percent expect to add IT people and not one company in the area polled by RHT expects to make cuts. (OK, is it just me, or does West South Central take a lot more brain MIPS to process than just rattling off those four state names? Anyway. . . .)
Despite all of the issues in the financial services and housing markets, CIOs in the finance, insurance, and real estate industries expect a net 16 percent increase in IT hiring in 2008, followed by a net 14 percent increase in the transportation industry and a net 12 percent increase in both the professional services and retail sectors. Some 20 percent of CIOs in the business services sector (which is heavily dependent on IT infrastructure for its very existence) expect to hire in the first quarter of 2008, with only 2 percent expecting to make cuts, for a net gain of 18 percent.
As for what is driving the demand for new IT personnel, 27 percent of the CIOs polled said it was plain, old growth in their businesses, followed by 20 percent who cited the need to enhance customer support. System upgrades were cited by 19 percent of the CIOs in the poll, and ERP installations were said to be driving hiring for another 13 percent of the companies. Information security and regulatory compliance were cited by 8 percent and 4 percent of those polled, respectively.