Survey: IT Job Market May Perk Up

The bleak IT job market may finally be showing signs of improving, according to a recent survey.

The bleak IT job market may finally be showing signs of improving, according to a survey of human resources executives at technology-oriented businesses recently conducted by TMP Worldwide Executive Search, a unit of TMP Worldwide, Inc., in N.Y.

According to the Web-based survey, 46 percent of respondents said they plan to increase headcounts over the next year. Twelve percent said they plan to cut headcount over that period, while 42 percent said they expect no change. On average, tech companies said they plan to increase staff by 3.7 percent over the next year. Thats a turnaround compared to the past 12 months when tech companies said they cut staff by an average of 17.5 percent.

While the survey was limited to software, hardware, telecommunications and IT-oriented services companies, the moderately promising prediction of increased hiring can be extrapolated to hiring of IT professionals by companies not directly involved in technology markets, said James Bethmann, global practice leader-technology at TMP Worldwide Executive Search in Dallas. He noted that 42 percent of respondents to the TMP survey were software companies. "The fact that they are increasing hiring suggests they expect customers to buy more of their software, and that suggests more IT activity and hiring generally," said Bethmann.

Tech companies adding staff said their top priority will be for research and development staff (45 percent) followed by sales and marketing (30 percent) and tech support (15 percent.)

The modest uptick in hiring plans did not reflect unbounded optimism among HR executives that a broad economic recovery is imminent. While 35 percent of respondents said they anticipate a strong economic recovery in the next 12 months, 54 percent said they were neutral on the question.

Nor did HR executives buy into the widely-held opinion among IT professionals that companies overreacted to the economic downturn by slashing staffing over the last year. Sixty-nine percent of respondents, in fact, said hiring companies did not overreact.