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The IT job market is tanking — but not for everyone

Some companies are still hiring tech workers, although the total number of IT jobs is shrinking

February 2, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Shortly after Donnie Reynolds, the 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 another employee of the medical services provider flew to the software vendor's home city of Redmond, Wash.

"We don't like to pass on a good talent," said Reynolds, who called last Monday's trip to Redmond a "gonzo recruiting approach" on the part of AHCS. He and his co-worker spent the day in the area, some of it outside of Microsoft's headquarter offices holding banners designed 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 a tagline that reads "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 AHCS 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 off workers, and corporate IT jobs are being lost as well, plenty of companies — both vendors and users alike — are still hiring.

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, according to the NACCB.

The contraction in the number of jobs mirrors a decline in help-wanted listings tracked by Dice Holdings Inc., which operates the Dice online job site. Dice said it currently has about 57,000 job 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. But it's easy to miss the hiring that is going on amidst 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. He has received upward of several hundred resumes for each of those positions, but he said that isn't making it any easier to find the perfect candidates to fill them.



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