2006 Hiring Trends Looking Up

Dec 2, 2005

Katherine Spencer Lee

According to our 2006 Salary Guide businesses are moving forward with once-postponed IT initiatives, upgrading systems and developing new products—requiring many to rebuild their IT teams to make these efforts a success.

But, unlike the dot-com boom, companies are taking a cautious approach to hiring. They are making sure they have a long-term, sustainable need for full-time employees before adding additional IT staff. Many are turning to project professionals for assistance with short-term initiatives and peak workloads.

Competition is greatest for IT professionals who possess a mix of strong technical, communication, negotiation and business skills. Firms are recruiting IT staff who can provide input on ways to increase productivity and gain competitive advantage.

They want employees who, rather than remaining isolated in the server room, play an active, visible role in ensuring the company is making wise technology decisions.

When it comes to specific expertise, the our IT Hiring and Skills Report indicates that businesses are most in need of networking staff. Nineteen percent of the 1,400 CIOs polled cited it as the top, in-demand position, followed by help desk/end-user support specialists (15%), applications developers (12%) and data/database managers (11%).

Eighty-one percent said Microsoft Windows (NT/2000/XP) administration expertise was the most desired skill set.

Our research shows that companies are actively hiring due to a number of factors, including:

  • Network security. Firms need personnel who can oversee and implement measures to safeguard their internal systems.
  • Capital expenditures. Businesses are finding they can no longer afford to hold off on replacing outdated desktop systems and software.
  • Development of Web applications. The Web has become an integral part of business, and firms are looking for ways to improve collaboration, customer service, customization, efficiency and management with this technology.
  • Business intelligence. Companies are recruiting IT staff who can help them collect, store, analyze and provide access to critical business data.
  • Wireless communication. IT professionals are needed to support users of tablet computers, portable e-mail devices, smart phones and other wireless tools.
  • Regulatory requirements. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 has led public, as well as private, firms to assess their information systems for vulnerabilities and strive to maintain sound internal control over financial reporting. Other regulations that have affected IT departments include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the USA PATRIOT Act and the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act.

    Hiring and compensation practices are changing as a result of the growing number of companies implementing the these initiatives. With increased competition for top talent, many organizations are finding it necessary to accelerate their candidate screening processes to secure the best applicants.

    In addition, managers are frequently discovering that their top candidates are already evaluating multiple job offers. Companies are increasing salaries to help attract employees and keep existing ones.

    Recruitment activity in 2006 will be brisk in many specialties. Businesses that take note of the employment trends in the marketplace and adjust their hiring strategies accordingly will be in the best position to land qualified IT staff in the coming year and beyond.

    Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the North America and Europe, and offers online job search services at


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