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Tech jobs down sharply but not out

Seeking work in IT? Try Cleveland, D.C. or Miami. And get to know virtualization and CRM

December 4, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Correction: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story included incorrect data from The Conference Board about year-to-year changes in the number of job advertisements. The story has been updated with the correct information.

Online job listings for technology workers are down sharply, but there are still plenty of openings for people with the right skills, or for those living in the right metropolitan area.

The online job site Dice said the number of tech jobs advertised on its Web site has declined 26% from one year ago. The Conference Board, which publishes the widely watched consumer confidence index, today reported that the number of computer-related jobs posted online declined by about 29,000 from year-to-year, or about 5%. The Board gathers its data from 1,200 job sites.

Despite the advertising decline, Dice still had nearly 68,000 help wanted ads posted today, and The Conference Board said it counted more than 569,000 computer- and mathematics-related job ads in November.

The right stuff

Tom Silver, senior vice president of marketing and customer support at Dice Holdings Inc., said workers with skills in the right areas remain in demand. For example, postings for jobs that involve working with virtualization technology were up 19% year over year, he said. There were about 1,500 virtualization-related jobs on Dice today.

Virtualization is often cited as a cost-cutting tool that allows companies to consolidate physical servers and reduce hardware, energy and administrative costs.

The job market also appears to be healthy for IT workers with customer-relationship management (CRM) expertise, particularly those who have experience with Siebel CRM software. A search on the word Siebel at produced more than 2,000 results. Silver said he thinks CRM skills are in demand because companies want to get more use out of their CRM installations in order to preserve their customer bases.

"It is far less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to go out and find a new one," Silver said.

Location, location, location

Washington, D.C., may top the list of the best places to find IT work. There are now 8,400 job ads listed on Dice in the capital's metro area, a 6% increase from a year ago, said Silver. A lot of that is federal government work, which often requires a security clearance.

But you may not have to travel to a the biggest cities to get a job; some smaller markets are seeing increases in help wanted ads: Cleveland has 630 IT job openings, up 3% year-to-year; Cincinnati, 640 ads, up 5%; and Miami is up a whopping 20% with 700 job openings, said Silver.

Trouble at the top

IT management jobs may be the most difficult to find, according to The Conference Board. The number of job ads for managers declined 121,000 from a year ago, or about 18%. The Board counted 516,000 management jobs last month.

June Shelp, an economist at The Conference Board, said the nose-dive in management jobs reflected the financial meltdown.

There were 4.37 million total jobs posted online last month for all occupations, a decline of 70,200 from October.

"Even in a bad economic situation, people still need people to work," Schelp said.

Read more about Staff Management in Computerworld's Staff Management Topic Center.

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