Technology hiring should hold steady in 2008. Wait, no, it’ll be on the upswing. Oops. Hold that thought. The outlook is actually rather vague.
The uncertainty in the US economy is translating into uncertainty in forecasts for information technology hiring in 2008. Ask one expert, you’ll get one answer. Ask another, and you might get a contradictory response. That’s the message from a variety of reports, as well as interviews with recruiters, hiring managers and other observers of the technology hiring scene.
While opinions vary, the following themes emerge from a variety of sources:
Much of what happens in 2008 depends on the broader economy -- in particular, the repercussions of the housing shakeout.
.Net, Java, database and security expertise are all in demand.
Employers continue to seek techies with top-notch communications skills and business acumen.
What Industry Groups Say
A member survey of the Society for Information Management, an organization of CIOs and IT executives, finds that 75.4 percent of respondents expect to maintain or increase their IT staffs in 2008.
Steven Ostrowski, director of corporate communications for industry association CompTIA, says technology hiring is on the upswing. Two demographic trends -- an aging US workforce and a waning interest in IT careers -- are leading to a shortage of IT workers, he says. “As for the types of jobs most in demand, anyone with security credentials is golden in the eyes of employers, regardless of where they work in the IT department,” he says. “Application developers, database analysts and developers, and Web designers and developers are at the top of companies’ hiring lists.”
View from Staffing Firms and the Hiring Suite
Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of staffing firm Robert Half Technology, says factors contributing to a positive IT hiring outlook include an increased reliance on technology, a low unemployment rate, Baby Boomers’ approach to retirement and industrywide growth.
Meanwhile, new technologies, such as Web 2.0 and social media, are pushing up demand for Web developers, while the growing use of wireless devices requires IT pros “who can make these tools function effectively and securely within a company’s network and provide support for users,” she says. And because security remains a concern, “individuals who can manage an enterprisewide security strategy, including the assessment of network vulnerabilities, virus protection and intrusion detection,” will be in demand, she says.
Nicole Geremina, director of talent solutions at IT services firm Ensynch, says the uncertainty of the US economy is reflected in current IT hiring practices and trends.
“While the demand for highly skilled technology talent remains a constant in certain regions -- for us, the Southwest -- the willingness to move quickly in hiring full-time help has flagged,” she says. She notes that .Net talent is in demand, as are experienced system and database administrators and database developers.
Jim Lanzalotto, a vice president at staffing firm Yoh, says employers in 2008 will continue to seek expertise in ERP, wireless, security and project management.
Brian Margarita, president of IT staffing firm TalentFuse, expects 2008 technology hiring to be relatively flat in the US but strong globally. “The US will continue to lose jobs to outsourcing, because our labor rates are too high to compete in product packaging and the work can be done elsewhere for less money,” he says.
Hiring will vary by industry, says Dave Norris, national accounts delivery manager at Sapphire Technologies. Finance and telecommunications firms “have made large investments in projects and personnel this year and are projecting the same or better for next year,” he says. On the other hand, healthcare, insurance and pharmaceuticals “have shown inconsistent spending this year and are questionable for next.” But what happens with the economy is likely to have an impact on jobs, he adds.
Recruitment firm Hudson continues to field employer requests for Web developers, business analysts, software architects and project managers, says Tim Bosse, the organization’s executive vice president of IT and telecommunications. “Based on what our clients are telling us, the demand for IT professionals is going to hold steady,” he says. “Additionally, while organizations directly tied to the housing sector have begun to rein in their hiring, others have not appeared to be greatly impacted and continue to add headcount.”
How Do Workers Feel?
Nearly 34 percent of IT workers believe their employers have plans to add staff in the coming months, according to the November 2007 Hudson Employment Index. While that’s more optimistic than the 24.5 percent of the overall workforce who feel that way, it’s down 3.5 percent from the same period a year ago.