I've had some downright scary posts on tech job outlooks recently, like this one in which one expert predicts the tech sector will lose 180,000 jobs by the end of this year, and some not-quite-so-terrifying ones, like yesterday's post about a recent McKinsey survey in which 51 percent of global executives say they expect their employee rolls to remain stable next year while 13 percent actually expect to do some hiring.
There's no question that it's getting tougher for IT folks to find work. According to a Computerworld article, listings on the Dice Web site, which specializes in tech positions, have declined 26 percent from a year ago. Similarly, the Conference Board notes a 29 percent decline in online job listings for computer-related occupations across 1,200 job sites.
So which tech skills are likely to keep you on the job or get you hired in this dicey economy?
Virtualization skills are in demand. Dice has some 1,500 such jobs listed, a 19 percent increase over last year. This certainly makes sense in tough times, as virtualization is often touted for its ability to help companies cut hardware and energy costs. (Although trimming costs via server consolidation does have its limits, as IT Business Edge blogger Art Cole wrote last month.)
CRM expertise is also quite marketable, with Siebel specialists in particularly high demand. Searching the word Siebel on Dice yields about 2,000 results. Again, not such a shocker in a down economy. Says Tom Silver, senior vice president of marketing and customer support at Dice Holdings:
It is far less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to go out and find a new one.
Silver's view is echoed in a post I wrote earlier this year, citing an Accenture strategist's belief that cutting tech investments in areas that negatively impact customer interactions is a short-sighted strategy almost guaranteed to bite companies on the butt.
Geographic areas showing heightened demand for IT jobs on Dice.com include: Miami, with a 20 percent increase in listings compared to last year; metro Washington, D.C. (6 percent increase); Cincinnati (5 percent); and Cleveland (3 percent).
Interestingly, though a healthy majority of tech executives and IT managers surveyed by SearchCIO.com earlier this year expressed confidence that their jobs were secure, the Conference Board finds that demand for tech managers has dropped 121 percent in the past year.