Survey Shows Largest Net Increase in Three Years, but Mood Still Cautious

Jul 9, 2005

MENLO PARK, CA -- Fourteen percent of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed for the Robert Half Technology Information Technology Hiring Index and Skills Report plan to add full-time information technology (IT) staff in the third quarter, while 3 percent anticipate personnel reductions.  Eighty-one percent of survey respondents expect to maintain current staff levels.  The net 11 percent hiring increase compares with a net 5 percent forecast one year ago and is the largest net increase in hiring activity in12 quarters.

The national poll includes responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.  It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis.  Robert Half Technology has been tracking IT hiring activity in the United States since 1995.

Key Findings

  • Business expansion was cited by 38 percent of respondents as the leading factor driving IT hiring, followed by demand for increased customer and end-user support at 21 percent.
  • Executives at the largest firms (1,000 or more employees) forecast the highest levels of IT hiring activity.
  • CIOs in the New England1 states are most optimistic about future hiring activity, followed by those in the West South Central2 region of the United States.
  • Help desk/end-user support is the specialization experiencing the strongest growth among U.S. companies.

“Businesses are showing increased optimism in their hiring plans, but they remain realistic,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology.  “CIOs are carefully evaluating their key requirements and adding full-time staff only when they identify a long-term need for a particular position or skill set.  In the interim, they are bringing in project professionals to help core staff address short-term workload spikes and move ahead with select initiatives.”

Among CIOs who plan to hire in the third quarter, 38 percent said business growth is the primary reason, up from 35 percent in last quarter’s survey.  Twenty-one percent of respondents cited increased customer and end-user support needs as the major driver.

For the fifth consecutive quarter, executives at the largest companies were the most optimistic about technology hiring.  Twenty-one percent of CIOs at these firms plan to add staff and 4 percent project declines in personnel.  (Full survey results, including charts, are available at

Skills in Demand

When asked which technical skill sets were in greatest demand within their IT departments, 77 percent of CIOs reported a need for Microsoft Windows (NT/2000/XP) administrators.  Wireless network management also was a sought-after specialty, receiving 48 percent of the response.  Forty-seven percent of executives named SQL Server management as a specialty in short supply.  (Note: Multiple responses were allowed.)

When CIOs were asked which job categories were experiencing the most growth within their IT departments, help desk/end-user support was ranked number one for the first time in the history of the IT Hiring Index and Skills Report.  At 17 percent, this category tied with networking, which has long occupied the top spot on the list of high-demand jobs.  “Newly initiated projects such as systems installations and the development of web-based applications necessitate additional support staff to help users take advantage of new tools,” Lee explained.  “In addition, as firms become better able to offer promotions to retain and reward those who took on more responsibilities during the downturn, the entry-level help desk positions these individuals occupied must now be filled.”

Regional Outlook

New England is expected to lead the nation in technology hiring activity during the third quarter.  Twenty-four percent of CIOs plan to expand their IT departments and 3 percent anticipate personnel cutbacks.   The net 21 percent increase is 10 points higher than the national average.

“Businesses in New England are once again displaying strong hiring optimism -- the net increase is up 11 points over last quarter,” said Lee.  “Part of this trend may be due to the recent expansion of the biotechnology industry within the Boston area as these firms look to bolster their information systems.”

CIOs in the West South Central states also forecast hiring activity well above the national average.  Twenty percent of technology executives in this region expect to add staff and 1 percent anticipate reductions in personnel, resulting in a net 19 percent hiring increase.

Robert Half Technology has conducted additional interviews in major metropolitan markets to provide more detailed analysis of IT hiring trends in these cities.  The local results are available at

Industries Hiring

CIOs in the transportation sector reported the most active hiring levels. Twenty-five percent of CIOs in this industry expect to add employees in the third quarter and 1 percent foresee personnel cutbacks.  The 24 percent net increase is 13 percentage points above the national average for all industries.

The business services sector also remains strong. Twenty percent of technology executives expect to add personnel and 1 percent anticipate staff reductions, resulting in a net 19 percent increase in hiring.

National IT Hiring Projection

Regional IT Hiring Projections

Industry IT Hiring Projections

5-Year History

Factors Driving IT Hiring

Metro-Market Projections

IT Hiring Projections by Company Size

IT Jobs Experiencing the Most Growth

IT's Hottest Skills

With more than 100 locations in North America and Europe, Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis, for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network engineering and technical support.  For more information about Robert Half Technology or to learn about online job search opportunities, please visit

1 Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
2 Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas

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