Largest Companies Most Optimistic About Employment Gains

Mar 8, 2006

MENLO PARK, CA -- Twelve percent of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed for the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report intend to expand their information technology (IT) departments in the second quarter of 2006, while 4 percent plan staff reductions.  The net 8 percent hiring increase compares with a net 12 percent increase forecast last quarter and a net 9 percent projected this time last year.  The majority of executives surveyed -- 84 percent -- anticipate no change in their personnel levels during the next three months. 

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.  The company has been tracking IT hiring activity in the United States since 1995.

Key Findings

  • CIOs at the largest firms (1,000 or more employees) forecast the strongest employment growth.
  • Business growth is the primary motivation for adding IT staff.
  • Help desk/end-user support is the hottest job category within IT departments.
  • The West North Central1 states lead the nation in hiring optimism.
  • Executives in the retail industry are most optimistic about hiring activity.

“Many CIOs are adding IT personnel gradually to support recent business growth,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology.  “Competition is rising for professionals skilled in the hottest applications and specialties, and multiple offers are increasingly common.”

CIOs at the largest employers are most optimistic about adding IT staff in the second quarter.  Twenty-five percent of executives at firms with more than 1,000 employees plan to hire additional personnel and 5 percent foresee staff reductions, for a net 20 percent increase in hiring activity.  This compares to a net 5 percent increase in hiring activity forecast at the smallest firms included in the survey (100-249 employees).

Among CIOs who plan to hire in the second quarter, 40 percent said corporate expansion is the reason.  Twenty-six percent cited increased customer and end-user support needs.

Skills in Demand

According to executives, the technical skill set most in demand within their IT departments is Microsoft Windows (NT/2000/XP) administration (81 percent of the response).  Wireless network management was cited by 52 percent of CIOs, followed by SQL Server management at 49 percent.  (Note: Survey respondents were allowed multiple answers.)

When asked which overall job category was experiencing the most growth within their IT departments, the top reply was help desk/end-user support, with 21 percent of the response.  Networking followed at 15 percent and data/database management was third, with 13 percent of the response. 

Regional Outlook

CIOs in the West North Central states forecast the strongest IT hiring activity during the second quarter.  Fourteen percent of executives expect to add staff and 2 percent anticipate personnel cutbacks.  The net 12 percent increase is four percentage points above the national average.

“Business growth in the region is prompting many firms to launch initiatives and increase investments in new technology,” Lee said.  “In particular, companies seek mid- and senior-level IT staff such as applications developers, quality assurance professionals and network administrators.”

Notable employment growth also is forecast in the New England2 states.  Fourteen percent of CIOs plan to expand their IT departments and 3 percent expect staff reductions, for a net 11 percent hiring increase.

Robert Half Technology has conducted additional interviews in major metropolitan areas to provide more detailed analyses of IT hiring trends in these markets.  The local results, and additional supporting charts, are available at

Industries Hiring

Technology executives in the retail sector are most optimistic about hiring in the second quarter of 2006.  Nineteen percent of CIOs in this industry plan to expand their IT departments and only 3 percent expect personnel cutbacks.  The net 16 percent hiring increase is eight points above the national average.

“Retailers are turning to new industry-specific technologies to achieve cost-savings and improve competitiveness,” Lee said.  “They are hiring IT professionals who can recommend, implement and manage more sophisticated inventory management, forecasting and replenishment systems.”

Strong hiring activity also is expected in the wholesale and transportation sectors.  CIOs in each of these industries forecast a net 11 percent hiring increase. 

National IT Hiring Projections

IT Hiring Projections By Region

IT Hiring Projections By Industry

Factors Driving IT Hiring

IT Job Areas Experiencing the Most Growth

IT's Hottest Skills

IT Hiring Projections By Metro Area

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 Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
2 Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont

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