IT Hiring Plans More Or Less Level In Q3
June 18, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Some chief information officers are looking to hire people, and others are looking to fire people. That’s the latest result from surveys done by Robert Half Technology, the division of the headhunter by the same name that works in a number of different industries, including the IT sector. The news is not unexpected, given the uncertainty in the economy, and as we all know, it could be a lot worse. And it has been, in fact.
Robert Half has just finished up surveying 1,400 CIOs across the United States to take the pulse on the human side of the IT budget in preparation for a full report on hiring and firing plans for the third quarter of 2012. In advance of that report, the headhunter is putting out some preliminary information on the jobs prospects in the IT sector. Robert Half is also putting the finishing touches on the Professional Employment Report, which spans multiple white collar industries.
Let’s set the background first, and then drill down into the IT sector. The Professional Employment Report is based on interviews with over 4,000 executives with hiring and firing responsibilities at companies located in the United States. The situation seems to be balanced, with 5 percent of all executives saying that they will be making cuts to their professional staffs–which include marketing and advertising, accounting and finance, human resources, IT, legal, sales, and business development departments at larger companies and smaller companies engaged specifically in one of these fields. Another 5 percent of those polled said they would be hiring in the third quarter of this year, and 88 percent said they would be making no changes. It is not clear what the other 2 percent were planning to do. (Perhaps go to a three-martini lunch and think about moving to Brazil.)
Among the 1,600 companies surveyed for the IT sector by Robert Half, which talked to the CIOs, the numbers were nearly the same: 89 percent said no changes were expected to the employee ranks, 5 percent said they would be adding people, and 4 percent said they would be reducing headcount, for a net gain of 1 percent adding employees. Another 2 percent were undecided about the third quarter, which starts in a week and a half from now. (One observation: if Robert Half is surveying 1,600 IT execs but only 4,000 overall execs, that only leaves 2,400 for the five other white collar industries that it is tracking. The data might be a little thin in the other areas.)
Lawyers and marketeers will have an easier time finding work than IT people, it looks like.
Across all of the industries, 69 percent said it was difficult to recruit new people, an increase of eight points compared to the survey that was done for the second quarter report earlier this year. Equally important, 79 percent of the execs surveyed said they expressed confidence in their own firm’s ability to grow this year, which should mean that they were more sanguine about adding staff. Not so in the 21st century. Adding employees is the last thing any company, large or small does. The whole mantra is to do more with less and to try to squeeze more productivity out of the people you’ve got. And the reasons is simple: We are all competing against the entire world, which is rushing for ever-increasing output and efficiency to maintain their employment.
In the IT space in particular, 77 percent of the CIOs surveyed said it was challenging to find skilled workers, up 5 points from the second quarter report. And it looks like confidence is dropping, with 76 percent of CIOs being somewhat confident or very confident about the growth prospects of their own companies this year. Last quarter, the growth optimism index was 87 percent of those polled, so this is a dramatic drop in such a short period of time. However, even given this, 82 percent of the CIOs that Robert Half polled said they though their companies would be making investments in IT in the third quarter, up five points compared to the second quarter. Robert Half did not divulge what kinds of investments, be it in technology or people or both, or the size of those investments. This particular question is a bit on the vague side, so it is hard to say what it really means.
“Although most organizations are keeping staff levels constant, our research suggests larger companies may hire more actively in the third quarter,” explained John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement accompanying the figures. “Firms with 1,000 or more employees plan a net 10 percent increase in hiring next quarter, up from a net 5 percent increase projected for this quarter.”
If you are in the IT sector and are looking for a job, the hot areas where CIOs are hiring and the percentage of CIOs looking for skills are in the functional areas of networking (19 percent), of data and database management (16 percent), and of help desk and technical support (16 percent). By job, data and database management analysts were cited by 55 percent of CIOs as being in demand, followed by network administration (48 percent) and Web application design and development (33 percent). By industry, the financial and business services CIOs are adding IT people (a net 5 percent compared to all CIOs), and the CIOs at construction companies, if you can imagine it, are looking to add people, too, with a net 4 percent reporting they will add people in the third quarter.
If you want to know what salaries to expect, you can take a gander at the 2012 Salary Guide, which provides IT-specific average starting salaries by job title for the United States and Canada. They’ve added mobile application developer with the 2012 report, and the average salary ranges from $85,000 to $122,500 a year in the United States, up 9.1 percent compared to last year. That’s almost as good as the application development manager gets, by the way, which just goes to show the skills that are in demand–and how you can make yourself more useful.