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Hiring Softens but Staffing to Remain Stable

Mar 8, 2012

CIO Update Staff

Technology executives expect continued IT hiring in the second quarter of 2012, albeit at a slower pace than three months ago, according to the just-released Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report.

In the latest quarterly survey, eight percent of CIOs said they plan to expand their IT departments, and five percent expect cutbacks, for a net three percent projected increase in hiring activity. Most CIOs plan to maintain their current staff levels: 85 percent of those surveyed plan no change in hiring, up 15 points from the first quarter.

In the same survey, 87 percent of technology executives were somewhat or very optimistic about their companies' growth prospects in the next three months, and 77 percent felt confident in their firms' second-quarter investment in IT projects. 

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Networking and IT security professionals are in greatest demand, followed closely by help desk/technical support professionals, according to survey respondents.
  • Sixty-five percent of CIOs said it's challenging to find skilled professionals today.
  • Eighty-seven percent of CIOs are somewhat or very confident in their companies' growth prospects in the next three months.
  • Seventy-seven percent of technology executives expressed confidence in their firms' second-quarter investments in IT projects, rating the likelihood that their companies would be investing in IT projects a three or higher on a five-point scale, with five being most confident. 

"Although hiring in the second quarter isn't expected to be as robust as it was at the beginning of the year, the trend remains positive. Those in hot specialties, such as networking and IT security, will continue to be in strong demand," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Mobile media is an especially important area of growth right now." 

Skills in Demand

The functional areas in which executives say they are experiencing the greatest challenge in finding skilled IT professionals are networking (16 percent) and IT security (15 percent). Help desk/technical support, applications development and data/database management followed, cited by 14 percent,13 percent and 10 percent of survey respondents, respectively. 

Network administration remains the skill set in greatest demand, cited by 55 percent of CIOs. Database management and desktop support were next, with 54 percent and 51 percent, of the response, respectively.

Regional Outlook

CIOs in the Mountain region (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, UT, WY) plan the most IT hiring in the second quarter with a net 12 percent of executives anticipating adding IT staff; 17 percent plan an increase in hiring, and five percent expect to cut back.

Industries Hiring

Executives in the wholesale industry expect the most IT hiring in the second quarter. A net 12 percent of CIOs in this sector plan to expand their IT departments. This was followed by the transportation industry with a net nine percent of technology leaders anticipating hiring increases. Manufacturing was next, with a net seven percent of executives in this industry planning to add staff.

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 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 in 2010 and is 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. To see how hiring within the technology profession has changed since last quarter and how it compares to other sectors, please visit

Tags: IT security, Hiring, Robert Half Technology, network admins,

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