Half Of Tech Pros Planning To Look For New Jobs, Survey Says

IT workers aren't scared of losing their jobs--indeed, the improved IT employment market has made pros more willing to see if the grass is greener elsewhere.
Nearly half of tech professionals are planning to start searching for new jobs within the next year, according to a new survey commissioned by staffing firm Spherion Corp.

The survey, conducted for Spherion by Harris Interactive, found that 48% of tech pros expect to launch a new job search in coming months, up 9% since the fourth quarter of 2005. The survey of 8,532 employed U.S. adults included 536 who hold IT jobs.

More IT pros are planning job changes than workers in other professions, says Spherion senior VP Brendan Courtney. While 48% of tech pros are eyeing a job change, only 36% of the overall U.S. workforce is anticipating that move, he says.

"Tech workers tend to make job changes more frequently than other workers," he says. "They tend to be more mercenary, looking for more money, better work-life balance, working with new technologies," he says.

The top reasons IT pros are thinking about jumping ship? It's not because they're insecure about their current jobs. In fact, the Spherion survey found that 70% of tech workers doubted their current jobs would be eliminated within the next 12 months.

Rather, the improved IT employment market seems to have many IT pros more willing to test the new-job waters. "There are more IT pros in the U.S. working today than there in pre-Y2K," Courtney says. In fact, the IT employment in the U.S. reached a record high of 3.472 million in the 12 months ended March 31, surpassing the 3.455 million IT workers employed in the third quarter of 2001, the height of the dot-com employment boom, according to recent InformationWeek's analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Indeed, other industry surveys seem to confirm what Spherion found in its study.

In a larger salary trend survey of IT professionals conducted this spring by InformationWeek Research, 41% of IT staff and 37% of IT managers admitted to be currently "somewhat" or "actively" looking for a new job.

Specifically, of the 5,456 IT staff who participated in the InformationWeek Research 2006 National IT Salary Survey, 8% said they were "actively" looking and 33% said they were "somewhat" looking for new jobs.

Of the 4,969 IT managers who participated in the survey, 7% admitted they were "actively" looking for new jobs and 30% were "somewhat" looking.

The InformationWeek Research survey found that of IT managers looking for new jobs, the top three reasons were to get higher compensation, not liking their current company's management or corporate culture, and seeking more personal fulfillment.

Higher compensation, seeking more interesting work and not liking their current employer's management or culture were the top three reasons cited by IT staffers who admitted in the InformationWeek Research survey that they where looking for new jobs.

"Tech employment is on a steady uptick," says Kevin Knaul, VP at staffing firm Hudson, another firm that also today released its own new survey data showing that job confidence among IT workers was up significantly in May compared with last May.

Demand for talent in "niche pockets," like business analysis and project management, has been up for a while, he says. But in the second quarter, "there's been enough pockets seeing an increase that there's an overall improvement" in the general IT employment market, says Knaul. This makes IT pros feeling confident about looking for different and better opportunities, he says.

Compared to a base score of 100, a Hudson survey of more than 400 IT pros rated their job confidence at 108.8, compared with a score of only 93.2 last May. Still increasing doubts about personal finances—rooted to high fuel prices, rising interest rates and recent volatility on the stock market--had some IT workers feeling a little less confidence about their jobs in May, than they did in April, when they rated their optimism at 109.9.

Meanwhile, staffing firm Spherion is seeing job confidence levels from IT professionals "at a five year high," based on its new survey, says Courtney.