CIOs Forecast Uptick in Technology Hiring for Second Quarter

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Menlo Park, Calif.
Fourteen percent of chief information officers (CIOs) surveyed for the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report expect to add information technology (IT) staff in the second quarter of 2008 and 2 percent foresee reductions. The net 12 percent hiring increase is up two percentage points from the net 10 percent increase projected last quarter and unchanged from one year ago. The majority of respondents (82 percent) expect to maintain current staff levels.

The IT Hiring Index and Skills Report is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis.

Key Findings

  • For the third consecutive quarter, networking is the job category experiencing the most growth, followed closely by help desk/end-user support positions.
  • Firms in the business services sector are most optimistic about employment gains.
  • Technology executives at the largest firms (1,000 or more employees) forecast the most active hiring, with a net 19 percent increase in staffing activity.
  • CIOs in the Mountain and west south central states expect the strongest hiring activity.

“Companies are investing in new initiatives and technologies such as server and network virtualization; voice over internet protocol; and feature-rich, Web 2.0-type Web sites,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “As a result, there is heightened demand for IT professionals with experience in these and other emerging specialty areas.”

Twenty-nine percent of CIOs polled said business growth is the primary reason for hiring. Other top responses included increased need for customer or end-user support, cited by 19 percent of respondents, and systems upgrades, cited by 17 percent of executives.

Skills in Demand
Network administration (LAN, WAN) was the skill set most in demand in IT departments, according to 72 percent of CIOs surveyed. This specialty was followed by Windows administration (Server 2000/2003), cited by 69 percent of respondents, and desktop support, with 68 percent of the response. Database management (Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server) was cited by 66 percent of CIOs surveyed. (Note: CIOs polled were allowed multiple responses.)

For the third straight quarter, executives ranked networking as the job area experiencing the most growth, cited by 17 percent of respondents. Help desk/end-user support was close behind, mentioned by 16 percent of CIOs. Applications development and database management were each cited by 10 percent of respondents. “Networking continues to be a high-demand category as companies expand systems to allow users of mobile devices such as laptops and smart phones to access their networks in a secure manner,” Lee said.

Regional Outlook
CIOs in the Mountain region are most optimistic about second-quarter hiring plans. Seventeen percent of executives expect to add IT staff and 1 percent forecast personnel cutbacks, for a net 16 percent hiring increase.

The west south central region came in a close second in hiring optimism. Seventeen percent of technology executives anticipate expanding their IT staff, while 2 percent foresee reductions, for a net 15 percent hiring increase. “Network administration, Web development and project management skills are in need in this region as companies in the utilities, business services and healthcare industries grow,” Lee said.

Industries Hiring
For the second straight quarter, the business services sector is expecting the most active hiring. Twenty-five percent of CIOs plan IT staff expansion and 3 percent foresee reductions, for a net 22 percent increase in hiring activity. “Firms in the business services sector report continued corporate growth and strong demand for additional staff in networking and database management positions,” Lee noted.

Other industries forecasting employment growth above the national average include the transportation sector, with a net 15 percent increase in hiring activity, and the manufacturing and retail industries, each with a 13 percent net increase in hiring.

About the Survey
The quarterly IT Hiring Index and Skills Report was developed by Robert Half Technology, a provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. First published in 1995, the study is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. In order for the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region, industry and employee size. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportions of employee size within region. The margin of error for this study is +/-2.6 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence. 

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