CIOs Project Solid Growth in First-Quarter Hiring

Largest net increase in hiring levels since 2001, survey shows

MENLO PARK, CA, December 11, 2006 -- Chief information officers (CIOs) anticipate increased information technology (IT) hiring in the first quarter of 2007, according to the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. Sixteen percent of executives polled plan to add IT staff in the next three months and 2 percent anticipate cutbacks. The net 14 percent hiring increase, the highest since the fourth quarter of 2001, is up four percentage points from the previous quarter’s forecast.

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. 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 include:

  • CIOs report business growth is the leading reason for increased IT hiring.

  • Windows administration (Server 2000/2003) skills are in greatest demand, according to the survey, followed by network administration (Cisco, Nortel, Novell).

  • For the second consecutive quarter, CIOs in the East South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee) were most optimistic about hiring activity.

  • Technology executives at the largest firms (1,000 or more employees) forecast the most active hiring, with a 23 percent net increase in staffing levels.

“A low unemployment rate, combined with ongoing demand for highly skilled professionals, is resulting in a strong need for IT specialists at all levels,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology.

“With employers competing for the best talent, recruitment and retention efforts remain priorities for industry executives, especially given anticipated new projects in the coming year,” Lee added.

Thirty-five percent of CIOs who expect to hire said business growth was the reason, followed by 26 percent who cited an increased demand for customer and/or end-user support professionals. The need for the installation or development of new enterprisewide applications continued to rise, according to the survey, with 21 percent of respondents ranking it as a major factor driving IT hiring.

Skills in Demand

Microsoft Windows administration (Server 2000/2003) continues to rank as the skill set most in demand, according to 77 percent of CIOs surveyed. This specialty was followed by network administration (Cisco, Nortel, Novell), cited by 71 percent of respondents, and database management (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2), cited by 63 percent of respondents. (Note: CIOs surveyed were allowed multiple responses.)

Regional Outlook

For the second consecutive quarter, CIOs in the East South Central region are most optimistic about upcoming hiring plans. Twenty-four percent of IT executives anticipate hiring increases, while 2 percent forecast declines. The net 22 percent increase in hiring activity is eight percentage points above the national average.

“The cost of doing business in the East South Central region is very affordable, and companies that are expanding or moving operations there are actively recruiting workers,” Lee said. “In many cases, skilled candidates are receiving multiple employment offers due to a competitive market.”

In the Mid-Atlantic region (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania), 22 percent of CIOs plan to hire and 1 percent anticipate staff cutbacks, for a net 21 percent hiring increase. Industries Hiring

The transportation industry led all business sectors, with 25 percent of CIOs expecting to add personnel and 1 percent projecting staff reductions. The net 24 percent hiring increase is 10 points above the national average.

IT executives in the manufacturing sector also forecast substantial hiring increases, with 19 percent planning personnel additions and 1 percent expecting staff reductions.

With more than 100 locations in North America, Europe, and Asia, Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis, for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. For more information about Robert Half Technology or to learn about online job search opportunities, please visit http://www.rht.com