Want a better IT job in 2011? Forget 'real IT' skills

Virtualization, cloud become hottest skills, critical element of the others

Unemployment figures that went up from 9.6 percent to 9.8 percent in November did little to make IT people feel better, despite comparative immunity from layoffs during the past few years, according to John Reed, executive director of IT recruiters Robert Half Technology.

Five percent of IT hiring managers plan to add new people this year, and more than half said it's hard to find the right skills for their organizations.

Hard to believe even one company in five will add new bodies in what has become a work landscape filled with migratory contractors looking for long-term gigs and decent rates on individual health insurance?

Online tech-recruiter Dice.com ran almost 40 percent more job ads in Nov. 2010 than Nov. 2009, according to a company spokesperson. Almost all of that increase started in March, meaning the growth rate is even greater than it looks.

Within certain skill sets the increase is even higher.

Much faster growing, though with smaller numbers to start, are virtualization and cloud-computing jobs.

Jobs citing virtualization or VMware skills were up 78 percent in November 2010 compared to 2009. Ads looking for cloud-computing experts -- mostly architects and senior technical leaders with various titles -- rose more than 340 percent during the past year.

That's not quite as impressive as it sounds; the category only started with 378 postings. But the growth rate shows how hot that skill set is just as growth in IT job ads on Dice.com overall showed an increase in interest in IT skills of all types.

"In terms of IT hiring, we're just now getting back to where we were in Q4 of 2008," Reed said. "We're not back there yet, but that's the definite trend."

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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