More CIOs Expect To Boost IT Hiring In First Quarter

Demand is expected to be strongest in West Coast and Texas-area states.
Business expansion is translating into projections of stepped-up IT hiring in the first quarter of 2005, according to a report released Wednesday by IT staffing and consulting firm Robert Half Technology. Demand for IT workers is especially high in the West Coast region and a four-state region around Texas.

Robert Half's national survey of 1,400 CIOs at companies with at least 100 employees shows that a net of 9% of the executives surveyed plan to add IT staff in the first quarter. (The net 9% increase reflects that 11% of CIOs plan to add staff but 2% anticipate IT staff reductions.) That compares with a 6% net increase in the current quarter and only a 3% net increase in the first quarter of 2004.

The increased hiring plans for 2005 reflect improved, yet cautious, optimism. Companies overall are adding staff slowly because they aren't willing to risk layoffs if they expand IT teams too aggressively, according to Robert Half Technology.

Ryan Gilmore, branch manager for Robert Half Technology's Silicon Valley office in San Jose, Calif. says he's cautiously optimistic that the IT job market is recovering. "After what we went through over the last few years, tough times, it's good to see the Valley recovering," he says. "It's always difficult to predict the future, but my gut feeling is that 2005 will be a good year and that hiring is on the rebound."

Larger companies, those with 1,000 or more employees, have the strongest hiring plans, as do companies in two key regions. A net 15% of CIOs in Pacific-region states, which includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington, expect to increase IT hiring in the first quarter, as do a net increase of 12% of CIOs in the West-South-Central region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas).

IT workers with certain key skills are most in demand. Those include IT employees with expertise in Windows and NT systems administration, Checkpoint firewall management, wireless network management, and Cisco Systems network administration. Also eagerly sought are workers with Microsoft .Net development skills, experience with IT technologies related to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, and skills in a longtime favorite--security.

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