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IT Leadership // IT Strategy

Hello, Would You Like A New Job?

When was the last time you got a call from a headhunter? Have those calls cooled down lately? Think it's due to the weak economy, or do you think it's possible that you're just not that "hot" anymore?

When was the last time you got a call from a headhunter? Have those calls cooled down lately? Think it's due to the weak economy, or do you think it's possible that you're just not that "hot" anymore?The typical IT professional over the last 12 months received three headhunter calls, according to the newly released 2008 InformationWeek Research U.S. IT salary survey. That's the same number of times the average IT pro was contacted by a job recruiter in the previous year.

It's worth noting, however, that our most recent salary survey of 9,653 IT pros was conducted during February and March, before the latest cycle of sour economic news related to oil prices, the mortgage mess, etc. So, who knows if the phone will keep ringing as often in the months ahead.

Still, the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data actually delivered some good news for IT jobs. IT employment was higher in March than it was a year ago. So, apparently, tech hiring is still going strong, although the stats also show that much of the job growth was for lower-paying computer support jobs.

So, if you're not a computer support person (weren't a lot of those jobs outsourced?), then what sort of tech jobs would a recruiter be targeting you for these days, anyhow?

Among the hottest, hard-to-fill positions today are jobs requiring skills related to SAP modules; database administration and development, business intelligence, project management, and infrastructure, including virtualization, storage, wireless network management, and voice-over-IP, says David Foote, CEO and chief research officer of Foote Partners, a research firm that closely follows the pay and skills trends of more than 78,000 IT workers in North America.

When it comes to finding talent like that, even in this crummy economic climate, "people are telling us it's full speed ahead," says Foote of his latest conversations with hiring managers and executives.

Jim Lanzalotto, VP of marketing at IT staffing firm Yoh, also sees a high demand from clients for SAP and several other specific skill groups.

"There's a drought in SAP talent,'" he says. Other high-demand skills Yoh clients are seeking are in wireless security and network security. "High-end folks are still doing well," he says.

As for "lower-end support types of jobs" and the labor department stats that seem to indicate a demand for that talent, Lanzalotto says Yoh doesn't have any hard data of its own to back up that supposed trend. However, anecdotally, "I have a few customers that had off-shored low-impact jobs and are bringing them back to the U.S.," he says. The off-shored work didn't pan out as expected.

Still, Lanzalotto doesn't see clients looking to hire that support talent back in-house. But, it's conceivable that companies could be contracting support from services firms that are building up their teams of U.S. support people.

What if you're a CIO looking for a new gig? In general, prospects for top-level IT jobs also look pretty good, according to a new report released by executive recruitment firm ExecuNet.

When asked how long they predicted it would take them to land a new job, MIS and IT executives responded that it would take an average of 8.5 months for a successful job search, the shortest amount of time behind HR executives, according to the ExecuNet online survey conducted in February of 4,349 executives, including 286 tech leaders.

The ExecuNet report also predicts that "high-tech, defense, and aerospace" will be the "top growing" industries in 2008.

However, as for the top growth job functions, "MIS/IT" ranked 6th, behind business development, sales and operations management (which were tied), general management, finance and engineering (which were also tied), and marketing -- in that order, according the ExecuNet survey.

So, what does this all mean? Job prospects for IT still seem to remain pretty positive despite the gloom and doom in the bigger-picture economy, but having certain skills and talents certainly helps. (But, isn't that always the case?)

Have headhunters been calling you lately?

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