Four in 10 Executives Confident About Investing in IT Projects, Survey Finds

Dec 1, 2009

MENLO PARK, CA -- Chief information officers (CIOs) are showing signs of optimism as they look toward the new year, according to the first-quarter Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. Seven percent of technology executives anticipate adding information technology (IT) staff in the first quarter of 2010 and 4 percent plan workforce reductions. The net 3 percent increase is up three points from last quarter’s forecast. Eighty-nine percent of CIOs plan to maintain current personnel levels.

The IT Hiring Index and Skills Report is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States 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.

Key Findings

  • The net 3 percent increase in hiring activity is the strongest forecast since the first quarter of 2009.
  • Forty-two percent of CIOs are confident their companies will invest in IT projects in the first quarter of 2010.
  • CIOs in the East North Central1 and South Atlantic2 regions expect the greatest hiring activity.
  • Companies of all sizes foresee personnel gains in IT.
  • The wholesale, retail and health services sectors forecast employment growth above the national average.

“After months of slow hiring activity, managers are beginning the year with new budgets and appear ready to carefully expand their IT departments,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Many firms are investing in technologies that improve efficiency and competitiveness, and there has been demand for additional professionals to implement these projects. The health services sector, for instance, needs IT talent to manage the conversion to electronic medical records.”

When asked to rate how confident they are in their company’s likelihood to invest in IT projects in the first quarter on a scale of one to five (one being least confident and five being most confident), 42 percent of CIOs gave confident responses of four or five. Of that group, 23 percent rated their confidence level a five.

Staffing Mix and Experience Levels

Among companies planning to add technology professionals in the first quarter, 58 percent said they will recruit full-time employees. Twenty-eight percent plan to bring in a mix of full-time and contract or project workers, up from 9 percent last quarter.

Forty-one percent of CIOs said they expect to hire entry-level employees (up to two years of experience), while 40 percent said they are focused on staff-level talent (between two and five years of experience). Twenty percent of technology executives will concentrate hiring at the senior-staff level (five or more years of experience). (Note: CIOs were allowed multiple responses.)

Skills in Demand

Technology executives noted that it’s most challenging to find skilled IT professionals in networking, with 19 percent of the response. Thirteen percent of CIOs cited security, followed by applications development at 10 percent.

When asked which technical skill sets are most in demand in their IT departments, 70 percent of CIOs said network administration. Desktop support had 66 percent of the response, and Windows administration came in third at 62 percent. (Note: CIOs were allowed multiple responses.)

Regional Outlook

The East North Central and South Atlantic states will see notable hiring activity in the first quarter, according to the survey. CIOs in each region anticipate a net hiring increase of 8 percent, five points above the national average. CIOs in both regions cited rising workloads as the primary reason for adding staff. Executives in the East North Central states noted a particular need for network administration and desktop support skills, while those in the South Atlantic region seek applications, web and database developers to make product enhancements, as well as professionals skilled in help desk and business intelligence.

CIOs in the West North Central3 and East South Central4 states also anticipate IT employment growth above the national average. Technology executives in both regions forecast a net 4 percent increase in hiring activity.

Industries Hiring

The wholesale industry expects strong IT hiring activity in the first three months of the year. Twenty percent of CIOs plan to add employees and 4 percent project staff reductions. The net 16 percent hiring increase is 13 points above the national average. Retail executives also foresee hiring gains above the national average, with 10 percent anticipating adding employees and 2 percent projecting staff reductions, for a net hiring increase of 8 percent. CIOs in both industries cited an increased need for customer/end user support.

Within the professional services sector, the health services industry also stands out in hiring expectations. Sixteen percent of health services CIOs plan to expand their IT departments and 3 percent expect personnel cutbacks. More than half (55 percent) of technology executives in health services organizations are confident their firms will invest in IT projects in the first quarter of 2010. Twenty-two percent of CIOs attribute the need to add more staff to the installation or development of enterprisewide applications.

About the Survey
The quarterly IT Hiring Index and Skills Report was developed by Robert Half Technology and conducted by an independent research firm. First published in 1995, the study is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. In order for the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region, industry and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper number of employees within each region. The margin of error for this study is +/-2.6 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.

About Robert Half Technology
With more than 100 locations worldwide, Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of technology professionals for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. Robert Half Technology offers online job search services at

National IT Hiring Projections

IT Hiring Index: Two-Year History

Factors Driving IT Hiring

Confidence in Investing in IT

IT Functional Areas in Demand

IT Skills in Demand

IT Hiring by Classification

IT Hiring by Level

IT Hiring by Region

IT Hiring by Industry

1. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin
Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia
Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee


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