In the latest quarterly survey, 7 percent of CIOs said they plan to expand their IT departments, and 3 percent expect cutbacks, for a net 4 percent projected increase in hiring. At 87 percent, most CIOs are confident in their company's growth prospects in the next three months, a seven-point increase from last quarter.
"Companies are hiring to meet pent-up technology demand, and they are even more confident in future business growth," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Firms are ready to invest in new IT projects and employees to support business goals."
The functional areas in which executives interviewed foresee the greatest challenge in finding skilled IT professionals are networking (21 percent) -- up from 13 percent last quarter, and security (16 percent). Applications development and help desk/technical support followed, with 14 percent and 12 percent of the response, respectively.
Network administration remains the skill set in greatest demand, cited by 68 percent of CIOs. Desktop support ranked second, with 66 percent of the response, followed by Windows administration at 56 percent.
CIOs in the Mid-Atlantic(NJ, NY, PA), Mountain(AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY) and Pacific(AK, CA, HI, OR, WA) states are leading in terms of plans to hire staff in the third quarter. Closely mirroring the larger survey 7 percent of executives plan to add IT staff and just 1 percent expect cutbacks in each of these regions.
The retail and manufacturing sectors are tied for the lead in terms of hiring expectations with 9 percent of CIOs planning to expand their IT departments and only 1 percent anticipating staff reductions in both industries. Executives in the professional services industry and the transportation, communications and utilities sector each forecast a net 5 percent projected hiring increase.
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 represented, 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 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.
Information from the study is featured in the Robert Half Professional Employment Report, which was launched last year and the first study of its kind to monitor the hiring environment for professional-level positions exclusively. Based on more than 4,000 telephone interviews with executives throughout the United States, it provides insight on employment trends to help businesses and job seekers prepare for the upcoming quarter.