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Cautious optimism guides CIO hiring plans

Cautious optimism guides CIO hiring plans

Most report no plans to add staff, but fewer intend to pursue cuts in coming months

Industry watchers expect the worst is over in terms of IT layoffs as many companies re-assess current staff levels and begin to slowly fill holes in high-tech skills within their organizations.

Survey data from Robert Half Technology shows that 86% of 1,400 CIOs polled intend to maintain their current staff levels for the remainder of 2009. Six percent plan to expand IT teams and 6% expect to see more cuts, according to the IT staffing and consultancy firm. Separate data released recently with the latest CDW IT Monitor reveals that 17% of 1,048 IT decision-makers intend to add staff, while three-fourths expect numbers to remain the same and 8% anticipate further reductions in personnel. And announced job cuts continue to decline, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which reported that the 76,456 eliminated positions in August marked a 21% decline from the 97,373 cut jobs announced in July.

The layoffs could be tapering off for most organizations, but high-tech job seekers shouldn't expect the market to floor with open positions.

"That does not necessarily mean that there will be a sudden surge in job creation as 2010 gets underway, but we will at least be heading in the right direction," said John Challenger, CEO at the firm, in a statement. "Unfortunately, the aftermath of this severe downturn may see excessive caution among employers when it comes to hiring. So even, when job creation begins, it could be a slow process."

CIOs who indicated to Robert Half Technology they would hire staff appear confident, saying they will hire in the fourth quarter. More than 60% are expecting to add full-time positions in the coming months, up from 52% in the third quarter. Another 9% anticipate adding full and part-time, contract or project workers. Eleven percent of larger (1,000 employees or more) companies expect strong hiring activities.

"Businesses are cautious about adding employees, especially if they're watching budget for the remainder of the year," said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Employers are willing to invest greater time in the recruiting process to find individuals who will meet all of their criteria."

As for skills hiring managers will seek in the next quarter, network administration topped the lists of 69% of CIOs polled by Robert Half Technology. Sixty-four percent indicated that desktop support would be sought after and 61% identified a need for Windows administration expertise. Help desk/technical support and networking are the two jobs areas 18% of CIOs said were experiencing the most growth, while applications development was cited by 9% of technology executives surveyed by Robert Half Technology.

"Companies that are hiring seek candidates with diverse skill sets who can help teams operation with fewer resources," Willmer said.

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