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10 hot IT skills for 2013

September 24, 2012 06:00 AM ET

8. Networking

19% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.

Networking expertise remains a perennial top 10 most-wanted skill, although demand has dropped from 38% in the 2010 survey to 19% in the 2013 survey. Despite the decline, however, IT leaders say they still need networking professionals who have solid experience.

In Robert Half Technology's third-quarter IT Hiring Index and Skills Report, network administration was the No. 2 most sought-after skill set, cited by 48% of the 1,400 CIOs surveyed. It was second only to data/database management, which was cited by 55% of the respondents.

9. Mobile Applications and Device Management

19% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.

As consumer and business use of smartphones and tablets expands, employers are looking for workers who can handle the demands related to the proliferation of such devices, says Motti Fine, managing director of TreeTop Technologies, an IT staffing and consulting firm. Case in point: Kathy Junod, senior director of IT at Auxilium Pharmaceuticals in Malvern, Pa., plans to create a new job with the title mobile manager to add to her existing staff of 22. She says she needs an experienced manager to oversee building the niche mobile apps the business needs.

10. Data Center

16% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.

Core technical skills remain in high demand, so it's not surprising that data center skills still make the top 10. In fact, CompTIA reported in its February State of the IT Skills Gap study that server/data center management and storage and data backup remain high on the list of IT skills that employers are seeking. Some 61% of the IT and business executives surveyed by CompTIA rated server/data center management as a very important skill, while 57% rated storage/data backup as such.

However, Robert Half Technology's third-quarter IT Hiring Index and Skills Report found that CIOs listed data/database management as No. 2 among the "functional areas" in which it's most challenging to hire IT professionals.

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IT Hiring Trends

Stuck in a Recession Mindset?

An increasing number of IT executives say they plan to hire, yet when asked in the Forecast 2013 survey about their companies' business priorities, attracting new talent came in dead last.

Motti Fine, managing director of TreeTop Technologies, explains the dichotomy, saying that companies think they can afford to be choosy.

"Companies can do with an open position for some time," Fine says. "Are we getting to a point where that could be problematic? Hopefully, but we don't see any sense of urgency yet."

A change could be under way, however.

ManpowerGroup's seventh annual Talent Shortage Survey, released in May, found that 49% of U.S. employers are having trouble filling mission-critical positions. It also found that IT staff is the third-hardest job category to fill in 2012.

Jack Cullen, president of tech staffing firm Modis, says companies are looking for ideal candidates that simply don't exist. "That's because people have a recession mindset," he says.

But they're going to have to break out of that mentality, he adds -- or miss out on great hires. "Today, there's limited talent available, and when it's available, you have to move quickly because you're not the only person looking at that talent," Cullen explains. "People will have to realize that there isn't the ideal out there, that if they see someone they like, they have to pull that trigger. And I think we're going to see that, see the interview process shortened as we go into 2013, because everything is supply and demand. Right now, demand outpaces supply for IT positions. And coming into the fall -- those are strong months for hiring -- I expect we'll see those quicker decisions."

Mary K. Pratt

Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at marykpratt@verizon.net.

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