Companies Slow to Hire IT Staff

Jan 28, 2010

Dave Willmer

Often, for managers the start of the new year is a time to reassess staffing needs. For many, 2010 may mean the return to hiring. The most recent Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report  found that 7% of CIOs plan to add IT staff in the first quarter of 2010, and 4% expect workforce reductions. The net 3% increase is the strongest forecast since the first quarter of 2009.

While the results are promising, executives are taking a slow and steady approach to hiring. Companies remain cautious and are adding employees only after careful evaluation. Here are other key recruiting trends for 2010:

The Need for Diversified Skills - Companies are looking for jack-of-all-trades candidates who can adapt to changing business priorities and who are skilled in multiple technology specialties. By hiring these individuals, firms can cover varied needs within their departments in the face of limited budgets. Forty-three percent (43%) of CIOs surveyed by our company report being understaffed in relation to current workloads, reinforcing the value of bringing in individuals who can have the greatest impact.

There also is continued demand for workers with solid communication abilities, which have become imperative in the IT field. Firms want technology professionals who can interact well with people throughout the organization and have the expertise to explain how IT initiatives can support larger business goals.

Demand Remains Strong in Certain Specialties - Despite the ups and downs in the economy, demand still exists for certain technology professionals, including:

  • Applications developers and Web developers: With an eye on the bottom line, firms want to maximize the effectiveness of critical applications and improve interactive web functionality.
  • Database developers: Companies depend on these professionals to create and maintain more powerful and cost-efficient databases.
  • Network administrators: There is particular demand for individuals with expertise in Cloud computing, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Software as a Service (SaaS). 
  • Help desk and desktop support staff: Customer service can give businesses a competitive edge, making this specialty critical. At the same time, relatively high turnover rates create a consistent need for more personnel.

Investments are Underway - When asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 5 (one being the least confident and five being the most confident), how confident they are that their companies will invest in IT projects in the first quarter, 42% of CIOs surveyed by our firm gave confident responses of four or five. Of that group, 23% rated their confidence level a five.

These investments will affect hiring activity in a number of areas, including:

Information security: Protecting proprietary data and avoiding damage to their reputation are high priorities for firms of all sizes.

  • Virtualization: Reducing space and power requirements has become a concern as companies aim to reduce costs and support environmental initiatives. 
  • VoIP: Investments in VoIP help firms lower phone bills, increase network flexibility and establish unified messaging. 
  • SaaS: SaaS is becoming an attractive solution to purchasing software licenses for budget-conscious organizations. 
  • Business intelligence: Companies are looking for ways to leverage data and gain a competitive advantage.

In addition to analyzing business needs and investments, firms are taking time to thoughtfully evaluate workloads and priorities before recruiting. By considering current demands―rather than simply refilling vacant positions as resources become available—organizations are better preparing their teams for potential growth ahead.

Dave Willmer is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network security and technical support. The company has more than 100 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at

Tags: virtualization, Hiring, RHT, 2010 outlook, skills in demand,

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