Dec 8, 2004

MENLO PARK, CA -- Chief information officers (CIOs) expect a modest uptick in information technology (IT) hiring in the first quarter of 2005, according to the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills ReportEleven percent of executives polled plan to add IT staff early next year and 2 percent anticipate cutbacks. The net 9 percent hiring increase is up three percentage points from the previous quarter’s forecast and six percentage points ahead of the year-ago projection.

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.

Key Findings

  • For the fifth consecutive quarter, executives cited business expansion as the primary driver for IT hiring.
  • CIOs in the Pacific1 and West South Central2 regions expect the strongest employment growth.
  • Networking remains the specialty most in demand.
  • Executives at the largest firms (1,000 or more employees) are most optimistic about IT hiring activity.

"Companies continue to take a slow and steady approach to hiring," said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Firms are adding full-time employees only when there is a vital need, such as developers who can customize applications or business analysts who can evaluate IT requirements and align them with organizational goals. Employers aren't willing to risk layoffs by expanding their teams too quickly."

Lee added, "Businesses also are focusing on staff retention as turnover becomes a greater concern. Technology professionasl who were afraid to risk changing jobs in an uncertain economy may be more open to new opportunities as conditions improve."

Forty-one percent of CIOs who plan to hire during the first quarter cited business growth as the reason, while 26 percent require increased customer and end-user IT support. Systems upgrades and the installation or development of new enterprisewide applications followed, each receiving 10 percent of the response.)

For the third consecutive quarter, technology hiring at large firms continues to outpace the national average. Fifteen percent of CIOs plan to add staff and 4 percent see declines in personnel. (Full survey results, including additional charts, are available at

Skills in Demand

Businesses are actively seeking professionals with Microsoft Windows (NT/2000/XP) administration skills, according to CIOs surveyed. Forty-six percent of respondents said this expertise was in greatest demand within their IT departments. Checkpoint firewall administration and wireless network management are also hot specialties, each receiving 15 percent of the response. SQL Server management and Cisco network administration were named the most in-demand skill sets by 13 percent of technology executives, respectively. (Note: Survey respondents were allowed multiple answers.)

When asked which specialties were experiencing the most growth within their IT departments, 20 percent of CIOs said networking. Information security followed, with 13 percent of the response, while help desk/end-user support received 11 percent of the response.

Regional Outlook

CIOs in the Pacific states are most optimistic about employment gains in the first quarter. Eighteen percent of technology executives expect to add employees and 3 percent foresee staff cutbacks. The net 15 percent hiring increase is up eight percentage points from the region’s fourth-quarter forecast and six points above the national average.

Lee noted that work surrounding the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is generating increased demand for IT professionals. “Corporations are actively recruiting individuals with network security expertise who can help them comply with new internal control requirements,” Lee said.

Technology executives in the West South Central states also anticipate strong hiring activity during the first three months of the year. Twelve percent of CIOs plan to expand their IT departments and 1 percent anticipate personnel reductions, for a net hiring increase of 11 percent. Robert Half Technology has conducted additional interviews in select metro areas to provide more detailed analysis on IT hiring trends in these cities. The local results are available at

Industries Hiring

The wholesale sector leads all industries in hiring optimism. Sixteen percent of CIOs plan to add employees and 2 percent foresee cutbacks. The net 14 percent hiring increase is five percentage points above the national average.

Technology executives in the retail, business services, and finance, insurance and real estate industries also anticipate notable employment gains. A net 11 percent hiring increase is forecast in each of the three sectors..

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 Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington
2 Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas

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