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Tech jobs forecast: Mostly gloomy, with some bright spots

The number of IT positions is shrinking because of the recession. But there are still jobs to be had.

February 9, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Shortly after Donnie Reynolds, chief operating officer at Automated HealthCare Solutions Inc. in Miramar, Fla., learned that Microsoft Corp. planned to cut 5,000 workers over the next 18 months, he and a co-worker flew to the software vendor's home city of Redmond, Wash.

"We don't like to pass on a good talent," said Reynolds, who described the Jan. 26 trip to Redmond as a bit of "gonzo recruiting." He and his colleague spent part of the day outside of Microsoft's headquarters, holding banners in an effort to attract the attention of the employees there.

AHCS has also set up a new Web site aimed at Microsoft workers, featuring a picture of a beach with the tagline "This is our Vista." The site plays a song specifically chosen to appeal to people from the Seattle area: "Sunny," which begins with the line "Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain."

Reynolds said the medical services provider now has more than 100 resumes, some of them from Microsoft employees, for about a dozen open positions.

That's how the tech job market is these days: While numerous IT vendors are laying people off, and corporate IT jobs are also being lost, other companies -- both vendors and users alike -- are still hiring.

But the overall trend is clear, and not encouraging: The number of IT jobs in the U.S. is shrinking. From November to December, IT employment declined by nearly 50,000 jobs, to a total of 3.85 million positions, based on an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses in Alexandria, Va. That followed a loss of almost 34,000 jobs from October to November, the NACCB said.

The contraction in the number of jobs mirrors a decline in help-wanted listings on technology job site Dice said it currently has about 57,000 listings, down 35% from the same time last year.

The IT labor statistics are only likely to get worse once all of the layoffs announced in January are added to the government's figures. So it's easy to miss the hiring that's going on amid the parade of workforce reductions.

Among those looking for IT help is Chris Johnson, manager of human resources at CME Group Inc., which operates the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade and the New York Mercantile Exchange. Johnson has 15 IT job openings, including database and network administrator positions.

CME has received upwards of several hundred resumes for each of the available jobs, but that isn't making it easier for Johnson to find the perfect candidates to fill them.

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