Tech on Top in Down Job Market

Are you a highly skilled IT professional hot on the job search? If so, a recent study offers good news for you.

Fifty-three percent of companies report they will increase staff in the next year, according to Veritude’s “2008 IT Hiring Trends” study. The staffing company also identified the job roles that most need filling, namely: project manager, database administrator, system administrator, enterprise architect, software engineer, network engineer and systems analyst.

“In many of those roles, the commonality is that [the professionals must be] highly skilled with good job experience,” said Tom Hart, executive vice president of client management, talent acquisition, and operations and technology at Veritude. “But probably more importantly, they have two things that hiring managers continuously look for, which are effective communication skills — both written skills and verbal skills — and a high level of business knowledge with the industries that they work in.”

But even beyond these several jobs roles, “There are probably close to 100 job types in IT where the top talent [is] not going to have a problem finding good work,” he said.

Indeed, a July study by Jobfox reported that the technology sector had the most job roles on its “Top 20 Most Recession-Proof Professions” list, with a total of six.

While other sectors such as finance and the automotive industry continue to announce job cuts and buyouts, a number of factors are keeping skilled IT candidates afloat in the job market.

First, while many industries are or will be affected by the vast pool of baby boomers retiring, it’s particularly true for technology, Hart said. The tech skills that companies need are not continuing on to the next generation of workers, leading to increased demand.

Another reason for the demand is that there simply are fewer candidates to fill the open positions. Hart said enrollment in IT programs at colleges and universities has been on the decline for years. Additionally, as the daily role of the IT pro increasingly includes business elements, there is a need for candidates to be savvy in the soft skills arena.

“There are several factors at play, and collectively, they contribute to protecting this particular profession, at least for some time going forward,” Hart said.

There are number of ways technology companies can reach out to top talent to fill these in-demand positions. In particular, Hart said, organizations will fare best if they offer competitive compensation and opportunities for advancement in the company; employ the latest technologies for their workers’ use; adopt flexibility in how they allow employees to do their jobs; and create a “healthy and young” culture. By this, Hart means companies should create a company culture that evolves with the times to keep the workforce engaged.

In addition, Hart said companies should remain creative in their recruitment practices and look beyond traditional methods.

“The industry has evolved very, very markedly as it relates to how people go about looking for employment,” he said. “[Candidates are] not active about it anymore; they’re not calling head hunters and saying, ‘Hey, I want a job.’”

Instead, candidates use social networking sites such as LinkedIn to share information about their skills. IT hiring professionals and staffing providers must be knowledgeable on how to reign in these candidates in this new environment.

As long as they have the business skills to back up their technology expertise, IT pros have nothing to worry about in their employment searches, Hart said.

“A younger person today looking for a high-skill, high-paid job like some of the job titles that we talked about get six-figure compensation,” he said. “Honestly, they’re going to have three or four very good job offers in front of them from just a limited amount of work and activity on their part to generate those offers.

“We’re talking about the best and the brightest — and the best and the brightest have options. The top 25 percent of the workforce can write their own ticket.”

- Mpolakowski, meaganp@certmag.com

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Meagan Polakowski

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