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CIOs Predict More Hiring in Q4

By CIO Update Staff

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Fourteen percent of CIOs polled for the quarterly Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report expect to add IT staff in the fourth quarter of 2007. Just two percent anticipate cutbacks. The net 12% hiring increase compares with net increases of 15% projected last quarter and 10% projected one year ago. The majority of respondents, 83%, foresee no change in fourth-quarter hiring.

The hiring index and skills report is based on interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. The company has been tracking IT hiring activity in the United States since 1995.

Key Findings

Business growth continues to drive the need for more IT staff. Networking is the hottest job category within IT departments. CIOs in the Mountain (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming) and Pacific (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington) regions expect the strongest hiring activity.

Firms in the finance, insurance and real estate industry are most optimistic about employment gains.

“As competition for candidates intensifies in many specialties, organizations are starting to accelerate the hiring process, increase salaries and offer work-life balance benefits such as telecommuting opportunities and flexible work schedules to attract and retain top talent,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology and CIO Update columnist, in a statement.

The primary motivation for adding IT personnel, according to CIOs, is corporate growth. Forty-five percent of technology executives rated this as the key reason for adding staff, followed by increased need for customer and/or end-user support (18%) and installation or development of new enterprise-wide applications (15%).

Skills in Demand

According to 73% of CIOs surveyed, the technical skill set needed most in IT departments is Windows administration (Server 2000/2003). This was followed by network administration (Cisco, Nortel), with 70% of the response, and database management (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2), at 60%. (Note: CIOs surveyed were allowed multiple responses.)

When asked about the most in-demand job category, technology executives ranked networking number one, with 18% of the response.

“Growing use of wireless devices such as smart phones, cell phones and laptops has heightened the need for professionals who can make these tools function effectively and securely within a company’s network,” continued Lee. Help desk/end-user support received the second-highest response at 15%, followed by applications development at 14%.

Regional Outlook

Technology executives in the Mountain region are most optimistic about fourth-quarter hiring plans. Twenty-three percent of CIOs plan to expand their IT departments and just three percent anticipate staff reductions. The net 20% increase is eight points above the national average.

CIOs in the Pacific states also forecast notable hiring activity. Twenty percent of executives expect to add staff and just one percent foresee personnel cutbacks. “Web and applications developers, particularly those possessing Microsoft .NET skills, are in high demand in the region,” Lee said.

Robert Half Technology has conducted additional CIO interviews in major metropolitan areas to provide more detailed analyses of IT hiring trends in these markets. The local results are available at www.rht.com/pressroom.

Industries Hiring

The finance, insurance and real estate sector is expected to see the most active hiring in the fourth quarter. Twenty-three percent of CIOs plan to expand their IT departments and just two percent plan staff reductions, for a net 21% hiring increase.

“The commercial real estate segment has experienced growth over the past several months,” Lee said. “Firms in the finance, insurance and real estate sector are actively recruiting Internet/intranet developers, networking experts and help desk/end-user support staff to sustain growth.”

Four other industries also anticipate employment gains above the national average: retail, professional services, wholesale and business services. Technology executives in each of these sectors forecast a net 15% hiring increase in the fourth quarter.