Study: Six IT fields in top 20 recession-proof professions

With the economy in upheaval, here are some areas where you may want to polish your job skills

Looking to find one of the hottest IT job tracks in today's downward spiraling economy?

If you want to stay employed in IT amid the economic uncertainty, look for jobs in software design and development, networking and systems administration, software implementation analysis, testing and quality assurance, database administration and general IT management with cutting-edge mobile IT and Web 2.0 skills.

Those are the hottest IT job fields today, according to a new report on the "Top 20 Most Recession-Proof Professions," released late last week by McLean, Va.-based online job placement firm JobFox.com.

The top recession-proof professions, according to the list, based on JobFox's analysis of monthly rankings since last November are sales representatives/business development, software design and development, nursing, accounting and finance executives, and accounting staff.

Among the jobs on the top 20 list of recession-proof professions are six in IT fields.

"That general category of IT popped through as the biggest winner" at this time, said Barry Lawrence, a JobFox.com spokesman. "We know our recruiters are dying to get people with those skills. Everybody is trying to improve the ways they do business, to streamline in a tough economy," so companies are seeking workers with these qualifications.

JobFox.com compiled the study from online job listings that are placed by employers. JobFox.com then takes detailed resumes and employment profiles from prospective job candidates and matches them up to the job listings, Lawrence said.

"Think eHarmony.com for jobs," he quipped, referring to the online dating service that conducts online profile interviews of each applicant and then matches them up to potential dates by comparing their responses.

Other online job posting boards, such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, post ads that users can search using keywords, but JobFox uses a database to query and match applicants to jobs, Lawrence said.

The company was founded by Rob McGovern, who founded CareerBuilder.com before selling it in 2002. In 2004, he began a new online employment company, Market10.com, in the Washington area. Last year, he changed the name to JobFox.com and went national. The site tracks jobs in about 170 professions and includes job postings for about 1,700 employers across the nation. Fees for the services are paid for by the employers, not by the job candidates.

The recession-proof job rankings are an outgrowth of the company's regular monthly "JobFox Top 25 Most Wanted U.S. Job Candidates" listings, Lawrence said. The top 25 lists have been done for the last five months, using data on job listings since last November. "We don't pretend that this is scientifically perfect, but we think it gives you a nice snapshot," he said.

In July's monthly rankings of most wanted job candidates, the hottest IT jobs are:

  • Software design/development (No. 4)
  • Networking/systems administration (No. 10)
  • Database administration (No. 18)
  • Software implementation analyst (No. 19)
  • Testing/quality assurance (No. 20).

JobFox.com compares report data with findings from other employment research businesses and government data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Lawrence said. "I feel very good about what we're reporting in the Top 20. The numbers are there."

Paul Holley, a spokesman for employment services company Manpower Inc. in Milwaukee, said in an e-mail that his company conducts similar research, but that it can't be compared directly because the methodologies used are different. What is comparable, Holley said, is that data from the "Manpower 10 Hardest Jobs to Fill" survey contains several jobs also found in the JobFox.com listings, including engineers, sales representatives, IT and accounting/finance.

"One thing that we have noted about the Top 10 list at Manpower is that many of the positions (i.e., skilled manual trades, sales representative, mechanic) require a personal touch -- direct contact or service -- and therefore are difficult to offshore," Holley said.

John Challenger, president of Chicago-based outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., said the JobFox.com studies "hit a number of jobs that will be in strong demand. ... They are all core functions that most companies need."

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