IT hiring picture brightens for January

Q1 shows more professional-level IT jobs at better salaries, surveys show

The IT hiring picture for 2011 is not the surprise treasure trove of Picassos a French plumber hid in his garage for 40 years, but there is a positive outlook or two, according to Robert Half Technology's most recent survey of IT hiring managers.

Ten percent of all the executives polled said they intended to add bodies during the first quarter of 2011, while five percent said they'd reduce. That nets out to five percent of growth, which is one percent lower than the company's forecast for this quarter.

"Over the last couple of years IT got swept into the category of general employment in discussions about layoffs and unemployment, but IT never felt the brunt of it like other specialty areas did," according to John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology.

"There was some impact; a lot of people saw it in their compensation -- loss of bonuses or frozen salaries," Reed said. "We're starting to see a bit of a tailwind in hiring, closer to where it was in Q4 of 2008."

Overall salaries will only increase 3.4 percent. Like Reed said, though, combine positive hiring numbers with positive salary numbers and you're talking an OK first quarter for IT.

The positive news meshes with reports from payroll processor ADP, whose most recent hiring report said private-sector companies hired 93,000 people in November -- the largest monthly increase in three years. ADP reports also showed 82,000 new jobs in October, but 29,000 in September.

The hottest industries for IT hiring right now are healthcare, financial services and other areas of the services sector -- engineering, business process and other consulting services mainly, not food- or personal-service industries as may be the case with the ADP numbers.

Application development is the hottest skill set, but mobile application management, networking, security and Web services are also hot, Reed said. All those numbers indicate companies that put projects on the shelf a few years ago are restarting them.

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

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