Q3 Tech Hiring Forecasts Soften

May 25, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Predictions for third-quarter technology hiring among chief information officers (CIOs) have softened a bit from earlier in the year, a new survey found.

The latest Robert Half Technology Information Technology Hiring Index and Skills Report found that 8% of executives expect to add IT staff and 3% plan personnel cutbacks during the July to September period. The net 5% hiring increase compares with a net 9% hike forecast last quarter, when results hit their highest level in nearly two years, the survey found. Meanwhile, the majority of executives (88%) plan to maintain existing staff levels.

The latest poll also found that:

  • business expansion continues to be the leading factor driving IT hiring, cited by 51% of executives – the third consecutive quarter of growth in this category. Systems upgrades and a need for increased customer and end-user support followed, each receiving 13%.
  • technology executives in the business services sector are most optimistic about IT hiring activity in the third quarter. Some 15% of CIOs in this industry plan to add employees and 2% anticipate staff cutbacks. The net 13% hiring increase is 8% above the national average.
  • Microsoft Windows administration remains the most sought-after skill set, cited by 84%. Visual Basic development was also cited as a hot specialty, receiving 46%. Check Point firewall administration ranked third, cited by 41% of CIOs.
  • technology executives at companies with more than 1,000 workers are most optimistic about IT hiring plans. Some 18% of CIOs at these firms plan to expand their IT departments and 3% plan reductions, for a net 15% hiring increase.
  • the strongest employment growth is forecast in the West North Central and Mid-Atlantic regions

“Businesses that overstaffed and experienced layoffs during the recession are taking a more strategic and measured approach to hiring today,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a news release. “Many managers are initiating projects previously on hold due to budget constraints. However, they are carefully analyzing their requirements before adding full-time IT employees and relying on project professionals for short-term demands.”

Lee added that candidates who offer a combination of advanced technical expertise, “soft” skills, industry experience and business acumen are beginning to receive multiple offers, prompting firms to expedite the hiring process in some cases.

The national poll includes responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.