IT Hiring Outlook Continues to Brighten

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20 Hottest IT Skills

These are the most in-demand skills over the last year, according to Dice.com.

When HP announced its plan to cut some 9,000 jobs over the next few years, most of them likely data center professionals, it sent a collective chill through the ranks of IT professionals. I've written several times about automation's potential to eliminate IT jobs. The HP move seems like a clear portent of this trend, though it won't happen overnight of course.


In the near term, IT hiring trends are looking up. Robert Half Technology's latest IT Hiring Index and Skills Index shows a net 6 percent increase in CIOs planning to grow their staffs in the third quarter, up four points from 2009's Q3. Eighty-one percent of technology executives said they are very or somewhat confident about their organizations' growth prospects in the coming quarter, up two points from the second quarter. Forty percent of CIOs said they are optimistic about their firms' likelihood of investing in IT projects in the next three months.


With hiring plans looking up, CIOs are also concerned about losing staff to other companies. Thirty-four percent of technology executives said they are concerned about losing top IT performers to other job opportunities in the next year, up from 31 percent last quarter. Forty-three percent also reported that it is challenging to find skilled IT professionals today, numbers that mesh pretty closely with a similar survey about IT skills administered in the UK.


When asked which technical skills are most in demand within their IT departments, CIOs ranked network administration first (58 percent). Desktop support came in second (55 percent), followed by Windows administration (Server 2000/2003/2008) at 51 percent. (What? That's more than 100 percent. Yes it is. CIOs are allowed to give multiple responses.) The functional area that was cited as most challenging to fill was skilled networking, cited by 19 percent of executives, followed by applications development and security, at 12 percent each. Software development, database management and help desk/technical support each earned 9 percent of the response.


Dice.com found a similar outlook among technology recruiters and hiring managers. Seventy-one percent of those folks expect to add more staff in the second half of 2010 than they did in the first half of the year. The hiring thaw is impacting paychecks, with 30 percent of respondents indicating salaries are on the rise for new hires, vs. 9 percent who said so at the end of last year.


Two-thirds of respondents indicate they have at least one hard-to-fill position. Of course, as IT Business Edge contributor Don Tennant wrote yesterday, maybe tech employers are looking for hard-to-find skills combinations. Earlier this year I wrote about the advantages of hiring IT generalists, who can help fill skills gaps created when more specialized team members remain focused on a narrow set of tasks.