Enterprise CIOs See Brightest Hiring Prospects

A new survey of CIOs at U.S. companies indicates that larger companies are more likely to go on hiring binges this quarter, with retailers leading the way and help desk skills in high demand.

Large enterprise businesses will be among the most likely to add significant numbers of new IT jobs during the second quarter of 2006, according to a recent survey of CIOs based in the United States.

The latest version of staffing firm Robert Half Technologys IT Hiring Index and Skills Report said some 12 percent of the CIOs interviewed by the firm are planning to increase the overall size of their IT departments between April and June of 2006, while only 4 percent of the 1,400 executives interviewed for the report said they were planning to trim their respective staffs.

The resulting 8 percent net gain in technology-oriented hiring marks a mild decrease from 12 percent net gain in new IT jobs reported by the research firm for the fourth quarter of 2005, and a less significant falloff from the 9 percent net hiring increase recorded for the second quarter of last year.

An overwhelming majority—84 percent—of the CIOs surveyed by Robert Half said they had no significant plans to either add or cut staff head counts during the time frame.

The report found that CIOs at the largest employers included in the survey are among the most likely to expand their IT departments during the quarter, with 25 percent of executives at firms with more than 1,000 employees planning to hire additional personnel, and only 5 percent predicting staff reductions.

"Many CIOs are adding IT personnel gradually to support recent business growth," Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, said in a statement. "Competition is rising for professionals skilled in the hottest applications and specialties, and multiple offers are becoming increasingly common."

The 20 percent increase in net hiring activity at larger companies was dramatically higher than the number of planned additions among smaller firms, or those with fewer than 250 workers, which reported only a 5 percent net increase in their overall staffing road maps. Among those firms who reported plans to add staff, some 40 percent of the CIOs interviewed cited corporate expansion as the primary reason for expanding their operations.

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As for the technical skills sought most often by those companies hiring, experience with Microsoft Windows administration was identified as a need by 81 percent of surveyed respondents. Wireless network management expertise followed in popularity, with interest expressed in such skills by 52 percent of CIOs interviewed, and experience with SQL Server management was in demand from 49 percent of those surveyed.

The report found that executives at companies in the retail sector were the most optimistic about hiring during the second quarter, with 19 percent of CIOs surveyed in that industry citing plans to expand their IT departments, and only 3 percent expecting personnel cutbacks. The net 16 percent hiring increase is eight points above the national average for companies across all industries, according to the report.

"Retailers are turning to new industry-specific technologies to achieve cost-savings and improve competitiveness," Lee said. "They are hiring IT professionals who can recommend, implement and manage more sophisticated inventory management, forecasting and replenishment systems."

Hiring activity is also expected to rise in the wholesale and transportation sectors, with CIOs in those industries predicting a net 11 percent hiring increase during the quarter.

Robert Half, based in Pleasanton, Calif., is an IT staffing company, and said it hired an independent third-party firm to collect its survey data.

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