Hiring Slumps, But CIOs Still Expect Net Gain

By Mel Duvall


The recession has cut into hiring plans for the second quarter of 2009 a survey released by Robert Half Technology reports, but the news isn't as bad as may have been feared.


According to the report, 8% of chief information officers anticipate adding more technology personnel in the second quarter, while 6% plan staff reductions over the next three months. That results in a net 2% hiring gain, compared to a net 8% increase in the previous quarter.


A strong majority of respondents, 83%, plan to maintain current staffing levels.


"Not surprisingly, companies are being more judicious when hiring in today's economic environment," Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, said in a statement. "Budgets must support critical IT projects, and companies are re-examining their staffing needs accordingly. Among the areas where demand remains stable are help desk and technical support, and networking."


Robert Half conducted a total of 1,400 interviews with companies across the country to conduct the survey. Among the key findings:




    • Help desk/technical support and networking are the job areas experiencing the most growth.



    • Desktop support is the technical skill set most in demand, overtaking network administration, which led as the top skill for the past two quarters.



    • One in five IT executives who plan to add staff will hire a mix of full-time and contract workers.



    • Reduced IT budgets were cited as the primary factor for reductions in IT personnel.



    • CIOs in the Mountain region are most optimistic about hiring activity.


CIOs cited reduced IT budgets (40%) and the impact of the financial crisis on their company or industry (21%) as the reasons for reductions in IT personnel during the second quarter. IT projects being put on hold and companywide layoffs followed, each receiving 18% of the response. When asked which technical skill sets were most in demand in their IT departments, 67% of CIOs cited desktop support. Network administration (LAN, WAN) and Windows administration followed closely, with 65% and 64% of the response, respectively. (Note: CIOs were allowed multiple responses.)


Next: Mountain Region CIOs in Best Shape

{mospagebreak title=Mountain Region CIOs in Best Shape}

Technology executives in the Mountain region anticipate the most active hiring in the second quarter, with 18% of CIOs planning to add staff and 8% foreseeing reductions. The net 10% increase is eight points above the national average. "The need to maximize efficiency and better utilize existing resources is driving hiring in the Mountain states," Willmer noted in the report. "Companies are seeking network professionals as well as those with experience in virtualization, .NET and PHP/LAMP development to help build upon or expand current applications."


The New England and West North Central regions also anticipate hiring gains above the national average, each forecasting a net 5% increase. In the West North Central states, 10% of IT executives plan to hire and 5% expect staff reductions.


CIOs in the business services and professional services sectors are most optimistic about hiring in the upcoming quarter. Ten percent of business services executives interviewed plan to add staff and 3% will reduce the size of their IT workforce, for a net 7% increase. In the professional services sector, 11% of CIOs anticipate hiring more staff and 5% expect staff reductions, for a net 6% increase.


Next: 5 Hot IT Jobs for a Cold Economy


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