I have to say that the recent debt-ceiling wrangling in Washington has been making me crazy and recent layoff stories, such as the one that global bank HSBC plans to shed 30,000 jobs, don't help. Management Today, however, notes that the massive financial services company's investment in technology is among the reasons it can slash headcount that deeply.
But a couple of recent surveys further illustrate that the IT job market is far different from the overall job market. As Scott Swift, recruiting consultant at California-based HR outsourcing firm TriNet, told me recently in an interview:
... some hiring managers are influenced by the overall unemployment numbers, and it really does not relate at all to technical. We have to educate them. We have to work hard to attract the people that they want. They're not sitting around waiting for you to call.
As part of CareerBuilder's 2011 Midyear Job Forecast, its job site for consultants specializing in technology, Sologig.com, released some tech-specific survey results, based on responses from nearly 200 IT hiring managers. Among them:
In a press release, Michael Winwood, president of Technisource, is quoted, saying:
We are seeing more stabilization in the confidence levels of IT professionals and a hopeful view of current employers' ability to grow and succeed. However, the likelihood of workers to look for other opportunities continues to grow and employers need to continue to provide their top talent with training and development programs to keep them from doing so.
I asked Jamie Carney, Sologig's senior product director, if there were any indications that political or economic issues would cause employers to hesitate in their IT hiring. Carney answered by email:
External factors - like any unforeseen market fluctuations or the debt-ceiling debate - can certainly affect optimistic hiring expectations. But more than other sectors, jobs in IT may be fairly immune to those events because we're seeing companies choose to invest in capital that keeps them competitive and on the cutting edge. This is illustrated most clearly by how IT companies are positioning themselves [with increased hiring in full-time, permanent employees].
Companies are focusing their IT investments on efficiency and innovation, Carney said, areas that typically require new infrastructure and skilled technology professionals to either consult or manage systems. (Count among those Chase's iPhone check deposit app.)
Carney lists the usual suspects among the hardest skills to find: cloud developers, business intelligence analysts, software developers, network engineers, IT project managers and network security engineers.
However, Carney echoed the thoughts of Winwood at Technisource about retaining key talent:
More than half of IT employers say they're concerned about employee turnover whereas only about a third of organizations nationwide are expressing the same. Anytime there's an especially in-demand skill set, you'll simultaneously see more movement within that profession because there's simply more opportunities for the best workers. Companies need to offer economic incentives on par with or above regional averages, but perhaps most importantly, instill within the organization a sense that there are upward internal career parths for their high-value employees.