CIOs in the States Say IT Hiring Still Happening in Q4
September 8, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Whenever the economies of the world start getting dicey, as they certainly are in the United States and in parts of Europe, IT personnel start looking around to their left and right to see what the pecking order might be if job cuts become necessary. With the American workforce shedding jobs at an alarming rate and continuing issues in the housing market and financial services industries, it is no wonder that IT managers, programmers, project managers, system administrators, and other IT staff are a little jumpy. But, apparently IT is doing alright in the States.
According to the most recent survey performed by Robert Half Technology, an IT headhunter and employment analysis firm based in Menlo Park, California, that has been compiling a quarterly IT hiring index since 1995, customer support and end user support are continuing to drive hiring among IT shops in the United States.
The IT Hiring Index and its accompanying skills report are put together each quarter based on interviews of more than 1,400 chief information officers and IT managers at companies with 100 or more employees. From this data, the index shows an up or down trend, and for the fourth quarter of 2008, which we will enter in three weeks, CIOs are still expecting a net increase in hiring in IT in their shops–at least when averaged across all of the companies polled. This time around, the Q4 numbers show that 11 percent of CIOs expect to add IT staff, while only 3 percent say they will cut staff; another 83 percent said they did not anticipate any changes, and presumably the remaining 3 percent didn’t know or didn’t want to answer the question. In any event, that’s a net 8 percent of CIOs who say they will increase hiring, which may not be as good as the net 10 percent who said they would in the third quarter when they were asked about it in the second quarter, but then again, there has been a lot of bad economic news out there in recent months, so this is to be expected. Here’s the two year national trend for the Hiring Index:
“Companies are being judicious with their hiring plans, evaluating economic conditions and business demands before adding full-time IT staff,” explained Katherine Spencer Lee, the executive director of Robert Half Technology who put out a statement accompanying some statistics compiled from the survey. “Organizations are directing recruitment efforts toward professionals who can provide essential services–such as help desk and networking–and support the launch of Web 2.0 based functionality.”
Interestingly, when RHT started asking what was driving hiring or the lack thereof, those polled said that an increased need for people to handle customer support or end user support was the leading driver of hiring (25 percent of those polled), while supporting business growth, usually the main reason cited, took pole position two with only 23 percent of CIOs saying this was driving their hiring. This is something of a big deal. For the past 22 quarters (that’s five and a half years), supporting business growth was the main driver of IT hiring, according to those polled. Looking ahead into the fourth quarter, the need to install or create new enterprise applications was the third reason cited, with 21 percent of CIO responding. Information security and system upgrades were each cited as driving forces for hiring by 7 percent of the CIOs, and amusingly, 17 percent said “other” or they “don’t know.”
As for what skills are in demand, 70 percent of CIOs said that network administrators were what they needed to add to their staffs most, with Windows Server administrators being cited by 69 percent of those polled. Help desk and technical support are seeing the highest jobs growth rates in the United States, however, and the survey showed slightly higher growth in this area than for network administration.
In terms of industry, 17 percent of CIOs in the aggregated transportation, communications, and utilities sectors said they would be adding IT staff, with only 1 percent saying they would be cutting back, for a net 16 percent increase. In the business services sector, 14 percent say they will hire and 1 percent see cuts, for a net 13 percent on the upswing; those in the retail and professional services sector are coming in above the national average, with a net 10 percent increase expected for Q4 of this year. Not surprisingly, only 4 percent of CIOs in the real estate and financial services sector say they will be hiring in their IT departments in the fourth quarter, and 1 percent say they will have to make cuts. Wholesale distribution had the highest percentage of CIOs who said they would be hiring, with 19 percent, but another 10 percent of CIOs in this sector said they would be doing some firing, leaving only a 10 percent net gain among those polled. The CIOs in the manufacturing sector are perfectly balanced, with 7 percent hiring and 7 percent firing.