IT Support Hiring May Rebound

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Although many IT support jobs were among the first to go at the beginning of the decade, when the tech industry began to look like a Ukrainian presidential election, these positions might be due for a comeback soon, said Brian Brown, vice president of On Call Solutions and human capital specialist. On Call is a staffing firm operating in California that provides companies with the services of contractors working in IT and other fields.


In spite of the recent—if modest—IT job market recovery, tech support hiring has not notably increased, but that may change soon. “For the most part, IT hiring on a global perspective has definitely increased significantly over the past four or five months,” Brown said. “The one area that’s really lagged behind is the traditional technical support arena: help desks, desktop support and network administration. They’ve still tried in a global perspective to push efficiency rather than hiring. I think that will change as companies start to look at service levels, especially on the help desk. As you start to look at where the IT budgets have increased, you’re going to start to see those happen within the technical support arena, the one area that’s lagged significantly over the past few years.”


“If you look at the department levels, some of the first positions that were cut were some of the lower-level, help desk, tier-one and tier-two folks,” he added. “Overall, the call volume increased within those technical support departments to the point where there was a lot of overtime and a lot of turnover. I think companies are now looking at that situation and understanding they can’t outsource this and put it in a situation where it’s not under our control. We have to increase the service level to our customers. I think the hiring trend within the help desk is really going to be fueled by the significant feedback over the past few years of service levels declining on technical companies’ help desks.”


While increases in overall IT positions have been slow compared to other elements of the economic recovery (due largely to the fact that technology companies or technical departments in large organizations have pushed to optimize their existing networks and workforce), niche-specific hiring has been significant. Some of the IT specialties that are doing well at present include Web application development and e-commerce, Brown said. “I think if you look at the broad picture, in 2002 through 2004 companies started putting both feet in the water per se to look at some of the implementations of new processes and new technologies, and really started hammering down into their IT budgets. If you take that to the micro level of employment, you’re seeing some very strong hiring around the application development side, specifically in Java technologies and Java architecture, as well as .NET from Microsoft. (Companies also are) really building strong infrastructure on Web services within IBM WebSphere or WebLogic.”


Brown said that some of the most in-demand IT certifications in the market today include Cisco credentials, particularly those that verify skill in configuring routers and setting up subnets, and programs around portal technology, such as higher-end Sun certifications. Project management credentials also are a plus. “Companies are looking to have defined processes, defined documentation to create a replicatable environment, so those who have certifications that speak to that are the types of folks who can walk into an organization and create high-dollar positions and quick work for themselves.”


Californians in the IT business should also consider utilizing the services offered by On Call, such as tips on top-paying jobs, hiring trends and resume-building, to get a competitive advantage in the market, Brown said. “Our intimate knowledge of the technical market space can help guide and provide a career knowledge base for individuals in the job market and show them where they need to go to grow their career, take the next logical step, increase their value in today’s marketplace and really be abreast of the trends as they change, versus after they change.”


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