CIOs Are a Little More Optimistic About IT Hiring–But Not Much
September 13, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The high-tech headhunters at Robert Half Technology have done their latest surveys of IT shops to try to take the pulse of the job market, and it looks like the situation is improving, but is still not great.
RHT did its quarterly survey of over 1,400 IT shops in the United States, asking them what their hiring and firing plans were for the fourth quarter that starts in a couple of weeks. The IT labor market seems to have softened in the past quarter, with everyone worried about the economy possibly slipping back into recession, but the situation is still a lot better than it was a year ago. Looking ahead into the fourth quarter, 9 percent of the CIOs polled said they would be adding IT staff, while 6 percent said they would be making cuts, for a net 3 percent gain in hiring. In the third quarter, net hiring was up 6 points, but a year ago it was flatlined. Here’s the two-year trend:
As you can see, the IT labor market has certainly tightened during the Great Recession, but this two-year chart doesn’t show you how much. As this newsletter reported back in March 2009 at the lowest point in the recession, in the third quarter of 2007, 17 percent of IT shops polled by RHT said they would be hiring, with only 2 percent having layoffs. In the fourth quarter of 2007, when the recession started in the United States, the share of sites saying they would add employees dropped to 14 percent, and it stayed at around this level through 2008, with net hiring fluctuating a little, but not much.
“Technology executives continue to add staff to keep up with rising workloads and to implement projects previously put on hold,” explained John Reed, executive director of RHT, in a statement accompanying the IT hiring projections. “Many organizations have realized that technology investments can lead to long-term cost savings and better efficiency, which has resulted in hiring in a number of IT specialties.”
A little less than half of the CIOs polled by RHT said they were optimistic about investments in IT projects during this budgeting season. About 18 percent of those polled said they were not particularly confident about their IT budgets in Q4, and a little more than a third were right in the middle of the pack.
Networking continues to be a bugaboo for CIOs, as is security, help desk and technical support, and database management. Application and software development are also challenging for IT shops, according to the survey. (Not to be crass, but no kidding.) Some 60 percent of the companies polled said they wanted more network administrators, and 54 percent said they were looking for database admins. Another 51 percent said they wanted desktop support techs, and 51 percent of those polled also said that Windows system admins were in demand. Web application development skills were cited as in demand by 34 percent of those polled, and server and desktop virtualization were cited by 32 percent. Business intelligence skills were sought by 32 percent of survey respondents, but ERP implementation rated as a top need at 26 percent of the companies polled.