IT Roles that Grow During a Recession

IT professionals that get themselves on the right projects before a recession are likely to be in a better position should one occur. 

IT professionals are bound to feel the effects of the credit crisis sooner or later, whether or not the U.S. economy experiences a recession.

CIOs may well be reluctant to cut jobs, but they are still going to have to work with their chief financial officers to find places that expenses can be cut. However, cutbacks don't need to be a nuisance; they can also be an opportunity for an employee to get themselves aligned with the projects that are currently their organization's top priorities.

In fact, IT professionals who get themselves on the right projects before a recession-defined as two consecutive quarters of falling gross domestic product??í-hits are likely to find themselves in a better position should one occur.

"The best thing you can do is find a way to get on cost-cutting projects, and be as central to helping your business survive as possible," Forrester analyst Alex Cullen told eWEEK.

For example, even in a recession, companies are still going to need to grow and keep their customers happy, Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing for talent and outsourcing company Yoh Services, told eWEEK.

"Project roles related to customers and company growth are less susceptible to recession angst," he said. "We're projecting even higher IT requirements in meeting business priorities. We're seeing much more effort around IT/business projects and less around operations."

Being on top of IT metrics becomes increasingly important in quarters of slow growth.

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"[Companies] want to know where the efficiencies are and who are the most profitable customers, and where they can cut back without affecting them," said Cullen.

Meanwhile, during an economic slowdown, leveraging existing IT assets is everything to a company, as the CFO and CIO will be looking to get more from what they already have.

"If a company is looking across its IT department and asking where they're going to make good returns, the people involved in Web 2.0 projects have an opportunity to show how it can be used to do something cheaper than the company has been," said Cullen.

And for all of the talk about companies moving away from legacy systems, this is not something that will be on the mind of CIOs who are trying to reduce expenses. Instead, they'll be looking for IT professionals who can help build new functionalities into the existing systems.

"There's probably going to be an investment in terms of looking for legacy system people whose value is that they know how the systems work, but they'll be asking them so they can help transfer the knowledge for new uses," said Cullen.