Careers: Hiring Freeze

Just nine percent of CIOs say they plan to hire new IT professionals next quarter, while four percent expect further cuts.

If you’re waiting for an uptick in IT hires as a sign that a spending recovery is on the horizon, don’t hold your breath. A new survey from IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology reports that corporate CIOs are even less optimistic about hiring IT professionals in the fourth quarter than they were last quarter.

As a matter of fact, few—just four percent—expect to further cut their IT staffs. All in all, only nine percent of the more than 1,400 U.S. CIOs polled said that they planned to hire new IT professionals in Q4.

If anything, the new survey indicates that things have changed only slightly since last quarter, when three percent of CIOs expected to reduce their IT staffs and 10 percent anticipating hiring new workers.

Among CIOs who plan to expand their staffs, nearly half—47 percent—said that business expansion had created a need for new IT hires. Another 19 percent indicated that improving end-user support was a factor.

What skills are companies that are hiring looking for? In spite of the growth of Linux, demand for Windows skills still topped the list, with 79 percent of CIOs reporting a need for Windows NT 4.0, 2000, or XP administration skills, along with another 40 percent who identified a specific need for SQL Server administrators.

Microsoft doesn’t have a monopoly on the job market, however; Cisco professionals are in great demand as well: 29 percent of CIOs identified Cisco network administration skills as a high-demand specialty. CIOs also identified help desk technicians, programmers, and network administrators as positions that are in great demand in their IT departments.

Not surprisingly, large companies (1,000 employees or more) were more optimistic about hiring new workers in the next quarter than small companies. Some 13 percent of CIOs with large companies planned to hire new IT workers during the fourth quarter, while six percent forecast additional staff reductions.

Geographically, the East South Central U.S.—which includes Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee—is a hotbed of IT expansion, outpacing other regions in demand for new IT hires: 15 percent of CIOs in this region anticipated expanding their IT departments, while only three percent forecast reductions.

"Technology executives in the East South Central states are reporting increased demand for individuals skilled in .NET administration and development as firms there begin to adopt the new platform," said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement.

The mid-Atlantic region fared pretty well, too: 12 percent of CIOs forecast expansion, and only 2 percent anticipated cuts.

Hiring varies by industry as well. For the third consecutive quarter, the survey found, CIOs in business services are most optimistic about technology hiring in the coming quarter. Eighteen percent of CIOs with business services companies say that they expect to hire personnel before the end of the year, while only seven percent anticipate staff reductions.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.