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8/30/2006
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Most IT Pros Are Looking For A New Job, Says Survey

Some 73% cited the desire for better pay as the main reason for their search, while 40% are looking for better benefits.

Itching for a job change? You've got plenty of company. Sixty percent of IT pros are looking for new jobs, according to a new survey.

Of the 60% who want a new job, 27% are "actively" searching; 52% are "somewhat actively" looking, and 20% say they're "not very actively" hunting for new work, according to an online survey of 1,000 IT workers by the Computing Technology Industry Association, an IT industry member organization.

Most of those IT pros are looking for greener pastures—73% cited the desire for better pay as the main reason for their search. Forty percent are looking for better benefits.

But money isn't everything, right? Two-thirds also say they are looking for new jobs because their current positions offered no advancement opportunities. And 58% say they are looking for new challenges. Thirty-four percent of the job-searching respondents complain that their managers don't respect or value the work they do.

"Now that help-wanted ads are getting a little bulkier, many more IT workers are willing to explore other options," says a CompTIA spokesman.

One-fourth of the IT job hunters currently work for tech vendors; 16% in education; 15% in government; 8% in health care; and 7% in manufacturing. However, many of them want to tap into their industry-expertise to land new jobs: Forty percent say they hope to find new work in the same industries they're in now.

The majority of IT pros looking for new jobs have been at their current employers for several years. Eight percent have been at their current companies more than 10 years; 22% have been with the same employer six to 10 years; and 29% have been with the same company for three to five years. Twenty-seven percent of the restless IT pros have been working at their current employer for one to two years; 14% have been with their employer less than a year.

While lots of tech pros are looking for a job change, many also seem to be feeling less optimistic about their current jobs, according to another new survey released on Wednesday by IT professional services and outsourcing firm Hudson.

Compared to a base score of 100, tech job confidence levels fell 9.4 points in August to 103.1, from a year-long high of 112.5 in July. Still, despite the one-month drop, IT job confidence levels last month were still significantly higher than in August 2005, when it registered only 97.5.

Also, IT workers in August were also just slightly more optimistic than workers overall across the several sectors Hudson surveys. Nationally, workers across all industries rated their job confidence 102.9, according to the Hudson poll of 9,000 workers, including more than 400 IT and telecom professionals.

"Confidence is still stronger among IT workers than last year, and more in line with the general workforce," says Hudson regional VP Paul Taylor. Contributing to the drop in IT pros' optimism from July to August were economic factors, including the softening housing market and gas prices, he says.

Only 14% of IT pros in August rated their personal finances as "excellent," compared to the record-high of 21% who said they felt that way in July, according to Hudson. There was also a five-point drop to 44% in the number of workers who said their financial situation was improving.

Still, Hudson's Taylor says it's not surprising that many tech pros are feeling anxious about a job change. "It's very easy to be left on the shelf in IT," he says. "IT pros very often have their eye on what the most cutting edge projects are" and wonder if they should be pursuing them—as well as higher pay, he says.

Tech pros that have been at the same company for some time "often get paid less than the market rates," says Taylor. And while Taylor says some tech pros often have over-expectations about pay—i.e. they think they should be getting paid more than what the market is actually offering—there are "buy-back scenarios" taking place in some corners of the IT job market right now, he says.

Specifically, employers in some industries, especially the financial services sector, are becoming more willing to make counter-offers to keep valued tech talent who have new job offers from other employers, Taylor says.

While the counter-offer game isn't nearly as hot in the IT job market now as it was during the height of the dot-com boom of the 90s, there are competitive pay opportunities for select types of in-demand talent, such as ERP consultants.

For instance, Taylor says he knows an SAP project manager who was earning $80,000 a year from his employer, an investment banking firm, and was offered a new job paying $95,000 by another company. But his current employer offered him $110,000 to stay, says Taylor. "The cost of replacement and training a new employee" is making some companies more willing to offer incentives for current staff to stick around, he says.

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