What IT Skills Are Most In Demand?

By Christopher Pace

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Human Resource consultant HireNetworks recently completed a survey of recruiting agencies to determine which IT skills were the most sought after in companies that were hiring IT workers. The "Hot IT Skills" survey polled recruiting firms in the Triangle area of North Carolina to determine which software, database and Internet development skills ranked as the most desired talents among area companies.

The survey found that Oracle, Java, Visual Basic and ASP are the IT skills most in demand. While the survey concentrated on the Triangle area of North Carolina, where the company is based, Craig Stone, CEO of HireNetworks, contends that the same hiring trends are present nationally and globally.

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HireNetworks surveyed recruiting agencies instead of the actual hiring companies because, according to Stone, "the recruiting firms have a broader understanding of market needs. Individual companies can only tell one what they are specifically looking for or have a need to fill, but the recruiting firms have industry-wide perspective and can speak to the needs of the market on the whole."

According to Stone, there is a surplus of available workers right now, but that is not because the companies are not hiring; they are just being more selective, having to wade through a lot of prospects in order to find the best candidates.

HireNetworks assembled a list of specific IT skills and divided it into primary categories of software development, Internet development, database development and administration, OS administration, quality assurance, project management, wireless, hardware engineering, network administration and communications, B2B E-Commerce, ERP and CRM applications, and technical support. Survey recipients were asked to choose the top 15 IT skills that they are recruiting for in the current market.

"In the past, the IT generalists had the advantage, but the market is becoming much more specific," Stone said. "Right now it is the specialists who have the advantage. In the past we couldn't find those people, but that is changing. The market is driving demand."

Software development was the hottest of the 12 categories surveyed, followed by database development and administration and Internet development. The results show that Java, Visual Basic, C++ and OO (UML, Rational Rose) emerged as the top in-demand software development skills. In the database development category, expertise in Oracle took first place with Microsoft SQL Server experience also showing strong demand. ASP and XML are by far the hot Internet development skills, according to the survey.

A surprising result is the strength of UNIX in the market. According to the survey results, UNIX administration faired better than Microsoft NT/2000/XP in the OS administration category.

"UNIX is hotter than MS platforms," Stone said. "We didn't break the survey down into the different flavors of UNIX, but in general the demand for UNIX is greater. And that might have something to do with the Microsoft marketing machine. The company wants people to think that they are more pervasive than they really are, but in reality they are not everywhere like they claim. This is just based on the results of our survey."

If the survey results are an indication, the future of the IT employment landscape is looking up.

"Everyone is talking positive again," Stone said. "Companies are planning again and not being as cautious as they were last year."

But even though things are looking optimistic again, Stone warns that the changes in the market are happening much slower than the industry in general had predicted.

"There is no one technology that is going to change the hiring landscape in the near future," he said. "All sectors of the IT industry are changing, from hardware to software. They are all going to have a role in the shaping of the market, but it is not going to be something that happens overnight. For example, we thought that wireless distributed computing technologies were going to change the market, and they are, but not as quickly as we originally thought they were."

Editor's note: This article first appeared on ITCareerSource.com, an internet.com site.