Most CIOs Optimistic about IT Staffing in Q2

Chief information officers (CIOs) expect an uptick in IT staffing in the second quarter, according to the latest Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. Nine percent (9%) of technology executives plan to hire additional IT staff and 4% anticipate personnel reductions. The net 5% increase is up two points from the first quarter’s forecast and three points higher than the year-ago projection.

“Executives are showing early signs of optimism in their business and hiring outlook,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Recruiting efforts are focused in areas such as networking and desktop support, which help keep hardware and software running effectively, and facilitate the implementation of new technologies.”

Key Findings of the report include:

  • Nearly 80% of technology executives are confident in their companies’ prospects for growth in the second quarter.
  • The net 5% increase in hiring activity that is forecast marks the second consecutive quarter in which hiring expectations have risen.
  • Recruitment and retention are emerging as concerns for IT executives.
  • CIOs in the nation’s central regions―West South Central(1), West North Central(2) and East North Central(3)―forecast the strongest IT hiring activity.

Confidence in Business Growth and IT Investment

When asked to rate how confident they are in their companies’ growth prospects in the second quarter, 79% of CIOs said they are very or somewhat confident. Additionally, 40% of technology executives said they are optimistic their firms will invest in new IT projects in the next three months.

Recruitment and Retention

Recruitment and retention are re-emerging as concerns for businesses, survey results show. Forty-five percent (45%) of technology executives said it is challenging to find skilled IT professionals today. Thirty-one percent (31%) said they are worried about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the next year.

Skills in Demand

When asked in which functional area it is most challenging to find skilled IT professionals, 15% of technology executives said networking. This was followed by security, with 12% of the response, and data/database management, with 11%.

According to CIOs surveyed, network administration is the technical skill set most in demand, with 64% of the response. Desktop support was a close second at 63%, followed by Windows administration at 61%. (Note: CIOs were allowed multiple responses.)

Regional Outlook

CIOs in the West South Central region are most optimistic about hiring in the second quarter. Fourteen percent (14%) of those interviewed anticipate adding personnel and just 1% forecast staff cutbacks, for a net 13% increase in hiring activity. Technology executives in this area expressed particular demand for professionals with network and Windows administration skills. Sixty-one percent (61%) of CIOs in the West South Central states said it’s challenging to find skilled IT talent, compared to the national average of 45%.

Two other middle-America regions project strong hiring activity in the next three months. In the West North Central states, 12% of technology executives plan to expand their IT departments and 3% foresee personnel reductions, for a net 9% increase. Ten percent (10%) of CIOs in the East North Central region expect to add staff and just 1% anticipate cutbacks, also for a net 9% increase.

Industries Hiring

The finance, insurance and real estate sector leads the nation in hiring optimism for the first quarter, research shows. Twenty-three percent (23%) of CIOs plan to expand their IT departments and 3% forecast personnel reductions, for a net 20% increase in hiring activity. Twenty-five percent (25%) of technology executives in this sector said it’s most difficult finding skilled IT security professionals, compared to 12% for all industries combined.

When asked to rate how confident they are in their companies’ likelihood to invest in IT projects in the second quarter on a scale of one to five, one being the least confident, 56% of CIOs in the finance industry cited confidence levels of four or higher.

Technology executives in two other sectors forecast hiring activity above the national average. Eleven% of CIOs with business services firms expect to add IT staff and 2% project personnel cutbacks, for a net 9% increase in hiring. In manufacturing, 9% of executives plan to expand their IT departments and 2% foresee staff reductions, for a net 7% increase in the hiring of IT personnel.

About the Survey

The quarterly IT Hiring Index and Skills Report was developed by Robert Half Technology and conducted by an independent research firm. First published in 1995, the study is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. In order for the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region, industry and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper number of employees within each region. The margin of error for this study is +/-2.6% at the 95% level of confidence.

(1) Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas

(2) Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

(3) Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin