Menlo Park, Calif.—Fourteen percent of chief information officers polled for the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report expect to add IT staff in the fourth quarter of 2007, while 2% anticipate cutbacks. The net 12% hiring increase compares to net increases of 15% projected last quarter and 10% projected last year. The majority of respondents, 83%, foresee no change in fourth-quarter hiring.

The Hiring Index and Skills Report is based on interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.  Interviews were conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. The company has been tracking IT hiring activity in the United States since 1995.

Key Findings

•    Business growth continues to drive the need for more IT staff.
•    Networking is the hottest job category within IT departments.
•    CIOs in the Mountain and Pacific regions expect the strongest hiring activity.
•    Firms in the finance, insurance and real estate industry are most optimistic about employment gains.

“As competition for candidates intensifies in many specialties, organizations are starting to accelerate the hiring process, increase salaries and offer work-life balance benefits such as telecommuting opportunities and flexible work schedules to attract and retain top talent,” says Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology.

The primary motivation for adding IT personnel, according to CIOs, is corporate growth.  Forty-five percent of technology executives rated this as the key reason for adding staff, followed by increased need for customer and/or end-user support (18%) and installation or development of new enterprisewide applications (15%).

Skills in Demand   

According to 73% of CIOs surveyed, the technical skill set needed most in IT departments is Windows administration (Server 2000/2003). This was followed by network administration (Cisco, Nortel), with 70% of the response, and database management (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2), at 60%.  (Note: CIOs surveyed were allowed multiple responses.)

Technology executives ranked networking as the most in-demand job category, with 18% of the response. “Growing use of wireless devices such as smart phones, cell phones and laptops has heightened the need for professionals who can make these tools function effectively and securely within a company’s network,” Lee notes. Help desk/end-user support was second with 15%, followed by applications development with 14%.

Industries Hiring

The finance, insurance and real estate sector is expected to see the most active hiring in the fourth quarter. Twenty-three percent of CIOs plan to expand their IT departments, while 2% plan staff reductions, resulting in a 21% net hiring increase.

“Firms in the finance, insurance and real estate sector are actively recruiting Internet/intranet developers, networking experts and help desk/end-user support staff to sustain growth,” Lee adds.

Four other industries also anticipate employment gains above the national average: retail, professional services, wholesale and business services. Technology executives in each of these sectors forecast a net 15% hiring increase in the fourth quarter.

Regional Outlook

Technology executives in the Mountain region are most optimistic about fourth-quarter hiring plans. Twenty-three percent of CIOs plan to expand their IT departments, compared to 3% anticipating staff reductions. The net 20% increase is eight points above the national average.

“Business growth in the region is encouraging firms to add more personnel,” Lee says.  “Companies are actively recruiting a range of IT professionals, from help desk to networking to development staff.”

CIOs in the Pacific states also forecast notable hiring activity. Twenty percent of executives expect to add staff while 1% foresees cutbacks. “Web and applications developers, particularly those possessing Microsoft .NET skills, are in high demand in the region,” Lee says.

Robert Half Technology conducted additional CIO interviews in major metropolitan areas to provide more detailed analyses of IT hiring trends in these markets. Local results are available at www.rht.com/pressroom.

Source: Robert Half Technology

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