Q3 Hiring to Remain Stable

Jun 2, 2009

CIO Update Staff

With the worldwide economy seeming to stabilize lately, IT could be adding its round of positive numbers to the mix. Based on the numbers, it appears that companies across the country are showing signs of life once again.

In the next three months, 8% of chief information officers (CIOs) plan to add information technology (IT) staff and 6% plan personnel cutbacks, according to the Q3 Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. The net 2% hiring increase is unchanged from the Q2 forecast. The majority of respondents, 85%, plan to maintain current staffing levels.

This quarter's key findings include:

  • Technology executives attribute hiring activity largely to an increased need for customer/end-user support and rising workloads.
  • Three regions are tied for the strongest hiring forecasts in the third quarter―South Atlantic (Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia), East South Central (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee) and Pacific (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington). 
  • CIOs in the transportation, communications and utilities sector are most optimistic about hiring. * Staff-level technology professionals are in greatest demand.
  • Reduced IT budgets remain the leading reason for staff reductions.
  • “Companies are adding staff at a steady but moderate pace,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a press release. “Managers are watching budgets closely and concentrating hiring activity primarily on customer-facing roles such as help desk and desktop support.”

Twenty percent (20%) of technology executives expect to add a mix of full-time and contract or project workers in the third quarter. When hiring full-time staff, nearly 9 in 10 CIOs surveyed (88%) plan to recruit IT professionals at the staff level (up to five years of experience). Twenty percent (20%) of CIOs said they plan to hire at the manager, senior manager or director level. (CIOs were allowed multiple responses.)

Thirty percent (30%) of executives cited the increased need for customer/end-user support as the primary factor driving hiring demand, followed by rising workloads at 27%. Technology executives expecting to decrease staff in the third quarter said the top reason is reduced IT budgets, with 41% of the response. Thirty-seven percent (37%) cited company-wide layoffs, and 14% said new IT projects are being put on hold.

Skills in Demand

Seventy-three percent (73%) of CIOs report that network administration (LAN, WAN) is the technical skill set most in demand in their IT departments. Desktop support received 69% of the response, followed closely by Windows administration (Server 2000/2003), at 68%.

When asked which job area is experiencing the most growth, technology executives ranked networking first, with 16% of the response. Help desk and technical support was cited by 15% of CIOs, followed by applications development, at 11%.

Regional Outlook

Technology executives in three regions―South Atlantic, East South Central and Pacific―were equally optimistic about third-quarter hiring, with a net increase of 4% each. Eleven percent (11%) of CIOs in the South Atlantic area plan to add IT staff and 7% foresee personnel cutbacks. Hiring activity in the South Atlantic region is being fueled by an increased need for customer/end-user support, according to the survey.

In the East South Central states, 7% of executives plan to expand their IT departments and 3% forecast staff reductions. Rising workloads are the main reason for hiring activity in this region, CIOs reported.

Seven percent (7%) of technology executives in the Pacific region expect to add employees and 3% project personnel cutbacks. CIOs attributed the gains largely to corporate growth or expansion.

Industries Hiring

CIOs in the transportation, communications and utilities sector anticipate the most active hiring in the third quarter. Fourteen percent (14%) of technology executives plan to add staff and 3% foresee personnel cutbacks, for a net 11% hiring increase, which is nine points above the national average.

Eighty-two percent (82%) of technology executives said an increased need for customer/end-user support is driving staffing activity. Help desk and technical support is the job area experiencing the most growth within their IT departments. Among CIOs in this sector who plan to add staff in the third quarter, 82% expect to hire IT professionals with between two and five years of experience, and 53% said they anticipate hiring senior staff with five or more years of experience.

The professional services and finance, insurance and real estate industries also forecast employment growth above the national average, with a net increase of 3% each. Nine percent (9%) of CIOs in the professional services sector expect to add staff and 6% anticipate personnel reductions. Twelve percent (12%) of executives in the finance, insurance and real estate industry plan to expand their IT departments and 9% foresee staff cutbacks.

About the Survey

The quarterly IT Hiring Index and Skills Report was developed by Robert Half Technology and conducted by an independent research firm. First published in 1995, the study is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. In order for the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments were included, the sample was stratified by geographic region, industry and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper number of employees within each region. The margin of error for this study is +/-2.6% at the 95% level of confidence.

Tags: IT management, IT Jobs/Salary, IT budgets, IT hiring trends,

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