CIOs Say They're Hiring Again

After a long period of layoffs in a flagging economy, IT staffs are starting to expand as stalled projects are relaunched and workloads increase.

The technology employment outlook is slowly starting to improve, but the uptick in hiring has been modest and hasn't come close to making up for the IT jobs lost during the economic downturn of the past couple of years.

The latest quarterly Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report projects a moderate increase in hiring during the fourth quarter. Some 1,400 CIOs from U.S. companies with 100 or more employees were surveyed for the report.

The personnel services firm said that data center executives are slowly adding new employees as work starts on projects that had been put on hold, and as IT workloads increase in general. Almost half of the survey respondents said they expect their companies will invest in IT projects in the coming months.

The optimistic note comes after a couple of very bad years for IT workers. For instance, IT vendors have shed 215,000 jobs since January 2009, according to TechAmerica Foundation, an industry group. But in the first six months of this year, technology companies added 30,200 jobs to their payrolls, whereas they shed 143,000 jobs over the same period last year.

John Longwell, vice president of research at Computer Economics Inc., pointed out that vendors are filling not just technology jobs, but also sales, marketing and distribution positions.

"Those sectors that are feeling the early stages of the recovery are hiring, but we expect IT organizations overall to continue to run very lean through the remainder of this year," Longwell said. Such firms "are not laying off workers, but for the most part, they do not have plans to hire."

Andrew Bartels, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said that slow-growing employment numbers among vendors and user companies reflect the state of the economy. "Companies have been very, very cautious about hiring employees, especially permanent staff," he said.

Users are investing in technology as a way of avoiding hiring, while tech vendors are growing mostly via sales of computer equipment, PCs and servers -- not from the sale of people-intensive services, Bartels added.

The Robert Half survey found that CIOs are mostly seeking experts in network and Windows administration, database management and desktop support.

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