Careers: Have Talent, Will Travel

With leading economic indicators sagging, you'd think the hiring outlook would be similarly bleak. Strangely enough, it may not be

With leading economic indicators in decline, you'd think the hiring outlook would be similarly bleak. Strangely enough, it doesn't seem to be. Market research indicates that companies are having a lot of trouble tracking down and hiring talented IT employees.

According to a new survey from IT staffing specialist Robert Half Technology, for example, a clear majority of CIOs say they're having more trouble finding job candidates this year than last -- even though the economy is arguably worse off.

In fact, Robert Half reports, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of IT chiefs believe there's an overall shortage of IT talent, and more than half (52 percent) say they're specifically having trouble finding qualified workers.

What's going on? Robert Half's Katherine Spencer Lee says that IT talent is always a scarce commodity, in a bull or a bear market. "Despite economic uncertainty and a more competitive job market, there are still talent shortages in certain IT specialties, such as applications development, Web development and network administration," Spencer Lee said in a statement. "Employers are struggling to find the most qualified candidates and some are more willing to negotiate higher compensation to get them on board."

Robert Half says it surveyed more than 1,400 U.S. CIOs. IT chiefs were asked a single question: "Is it more or less challenging to find qualified candidates for IT jobs … now compared to 12 months ago?" Ten percent of chiefs said it was more challenging, 12 percent thought it "somewhat more challenging," and a majority (55 percent) thought it was "just as challenging."

Regardless of how you slice and dice the data, Spencer says, one thing's clear: there's plenty of opportunity out there for talented IT pros.

Nor does there seem to be any shortage of money or other perks: slightly more than a quarter of CIOs blamed their inability to attract or retain personnel on an inability to offer competitive compensation, with the vast majority (52 percent) citing an out-and-out IT skills shortage.

About the Author

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