No Break Seen in the IT Talent Wars

No Break Seen in the IT Talent Wars

Job demand is forecast to remain strong in 2008, which means CIOs will pay higher salaries for quality talent. Learn from four staffing specialists about 2008's trends in IT staffing, recruiting and compensation, including jobs that will be most in demand.

IT managers hoping for the staffing situation to ease up next year are bound to be disappointed, as experts expect the talent wars to continue to rage in 2008. The trends that shaped IT's hiring landscape in 2007 — including low unemployment, a limited talent supply, increasing reliance on technology and demand for business acumen — will remain in play during the coming year. And that means rising salaries, increased benefits and a choice of employment opportunities for job hunters who have the right skill sets.

"It's a good time to be a technology professional," says Katherine Spencer Lee, Executive Director of Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing provider. "It boils down to simple supply and demand."

CIOs, on the other hand, will still be locked in a fierce struggle to recruit and retain the best and brightest IT workers in their quest to drive competitive advantage.

But this isn't a case of dotcom deja vu. IT leaders must now compete for talent in an uncertain business environment in which the housing slump and tightening credit are blunting US economic growth.

"If the economy does take a turn for the worse, a lot of companies' plans will be dead in the water and we'll be back in a scarcity model," says David Foote, CEO and chief research officer, Foote Partners LLC, an IT workforce research consultancy.

Of course, no one can predict the future. But to get a feel for how trends in IT staffing, recruiting and compensation are likely to shape up for the year ahead, we asked four specialists — Spencer Lee; Foote; Liz Brady, senior analyst of Forrester Research's Leadership Boards; and Jim Lanzalotto, vice president for Yoh, an IT talent and outsourcing services firm — to look into their crystal balls. Read their predictions regarding the state of IT staffing in 2008. What is the IT hiring outlook for 2008?

Katherine Spencer Lee: Ongoing business expansion and increased reliance on technology are resulting in a strong demand for IT professionals with real-world experience. Areas where companies are having difficulty finding strong candidates include Web and application development, network administration, database management and systems administration.

Unemployment in technology has been at historically low levels for the past few years. Employers are responding to this shortage of talent by raising salaries and improving other benefits. The 2008 Robert Half Technology Salary Guide, for example, is projecting average salary increases of more than 5 percent for the 60+ IT positions we track. In-demand positions like network manager, data modeller and applications architect are projected to see salary gains of more than 7 percent higher than 2007.

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