Careers: Business Growth Fueling Stronger IT Job Market

With hiring is on the upswing, IT professionals once again have clout with potential employers

Interest rates and gas prices aren’t the only things on the rise: According to two prominent IT hiring resources, companies increasingly anticipate hiring more workers over the next few months.

Every three months, information technology staffing firm Robert Half Technology surveys more than 1,400 enterprise CIOs to assess their hiring plans for the upcoming quarter. The results from Robert Half’s most recent survey were very encouraging, with fully 12 percent of CIOs anticipating hiring new IT workers in the coming quarter, with just three percent anticipating reductions.

CareerBuilder.com, which claims to be the U.S.’s largest online job network, recently released the results of its Q2 2005 Job Forecast, which found that hiring managers—buoyed by sustained job growth—are increasingly optimistic about adding staff during the second quarter.

“Following 21 consecutive months of job creation and increased investment in business operations, hiring managers are confident that the second quarter will bring strong employment gains," said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.com, in a statement. "Sixty-nine percent of hiring managers expect to increase their staffs in the second quarter, a significant jump from the 45 percent who said they would do so in the first quarter.”

Elsewhere, CareerBuilder.com had encouraging news about the extent to which companies plan to expand their staffing levels. For example, while just over two-fifths (43 percent) of hiring managers anticipate hiring between 1 and 10 workers, 11 percent expect to recruit more than 100. And nearly a quarter (24 percent) say they will add between 11 and 50 employees.

Why are companies hiring so aggressively? The number one reason, according to CareerBuilder.com, is because they’re expanding their operations.

The same reasons were cited in Robert Half’s survey. For the sixth consecutive quarter, the technology staffing specialist found, CIOs cited business growth as the leading impetus for adding IT staff. And among CIOs who plan to hire new IT workers in Q2, 35 percent cited corporate growth or expansion as the primary reason. In addition, 20 percent cited increased customer or end-user support needs, while 19 percent said they were adding IT staff to help with the installation or development of new enterprise-wide applications.

“With the technology sector downturn and resulting layoffs still fresh memories, companies are cautious not to expand their IT departments prematurely,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement. “Firms are hiring again, but only after clearly defining their requirements and making sure there is a sustainable need for more full-time IT professionals. Many organizations are also bringing in project professionals to handle short-term initiatives and peak workloads.”

One upshot of this, experts say, is that IT professionals have more clout with employers. “As the economy improves, the job market is slowly shifting in the candidate’s favor,” said Robert Half’s Lee. “Businesses that may have found it easy to recruit IT staff a year or two ago are discovering there is now greater competition for the most-qualified applicants.”

Also encouraging is the fact that companies are expediting the hiring process. According to CareerBuilder.com, 62 percent of hiring managers report that they are filling open positions within one month, with almost one-third (32 percent) requiring less than two weeks.

About the Author

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