IT Hiring and Staffing Holding Steady

By CIO Update Staff

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Only 8% of CIOs anticipate adding IT personnel in the second quarter of 2009, but only 6% plan staff reductions in the next three months, according to the latest Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. The net 2% hiring increase compares with a net 8% increase projected last quarter. The majority of respondents, 83%, plan to maintain current staffing levels.

"Not surprisingly, companies are being more judicious when hiring in today's economic environment," said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a press release. "Budgets must support critical IT projects, and companies are re-examining their staffing needs accordingly. Among the areas where demand remains stable are help desk and technical support, and networking."

Other key findings of the report include:

- Help desk and support and networking are the job areas experiencing the most growth.

- Desktop support is the technical skill set most in demand, overtaking network administration, which led as the top skill for the past two quarters.

- One in five IT executives who plan to add staff will hire a mix of full-time and contract workers.

- Reduced IT budgets were cited as the primary factor for reductions in IT personnel.

- CIOs in the Mountain region(Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming) are most optimistic about hiring activity.

Twenty one percent (21%) of CIOs who plan to add staff will hire a mix of full time and project workers, while 8% plan to add contract workers. One quarter of executives cited corporate growth as the primary factor driving hiring demand, followed by IT department expansion at 9%. Increased workloads and the need for systems upgrades tied for third, each receiving 8% of the response.

CIOs cited reduced IT budgets (40%) and the impact of the financial crisis on their company or industry (21%) as the reasons for reductions in IT personnel during the second quarter. IT projects being put on hold and company-wide layoffs followed, each receiving 18% of the response.

Skills in Demand

When asked which technical skill sets were most in demand in their IT departments, 67% of CIOs cited desktop support. Network administration (LAN, WAN) and Windows administration followed closely, with 65% and 64% of the response, respectively. (Note: CIOs were allowed multiple responses.)

Help desk, support and networking tied as the job areas experiencing the most growth, each cited by 15% of CIOs. Internet/Intranet development received 10% of the response.

Regional Outlook

Technology executives in the Mountain region anticipate the most active hiring in the second quarter. Eighteen percent (18%) of CIOs plan to add staff and 8% foresee personnel reductions. The net 10% increase is eight points above the national average.

"The need to maximize efficiency and better utilize existing resources is driving hiring in the Mountain states," Willmer noted. "Companies are seeking network professionals as well as those with experience in virtualization, .NET and PHP/LAMP development to help build upon or expand current applications."

The New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) and West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota) regions also anticipate hiring gains above the national average, each forecasting a net 5% increase. Nine percent (9%) of CIOs anticipate adding staff and 4% forecast reductions in the New England region. In the West North Central states, 10% of IT executives plan to hire and 5% expect staff reductions.

Industries Hiring

CIOs in the business services and professional services sectors are most optimistic about hiring in the upcoming quarter. Ten percent (10%) of business services executives interviewed plan to add staff and 3% will reduce the size of their IT workforce, for a net 7% increase. In the professional services sector, 11% of CIOs anticipate hiring more staff and 5% expect staff reductions, for a net 6% 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% at the 95% level of confidence.