IT headcount expected to rise in Q4, CIOs say

More CIOs are planning to expand their IT departments in the coming quarter than were three months ago. But compared to other professions, projected IT hiring in Q4 lags behind fields such as legal, sales and marketing, according to new data from Robert Half Technology.

In the staffing firm's latest IT Hiring Index and Skills Report, 9% of CIOs said they plan to expand their IT departments in Q4, and 6% anticipate cutbacks. The net 3% increase in anticipated IT hiring is up two percentage points from last quarter's survey. For Q4, the remaining 83% of CIOs polled said they'll maintain current staffing levels.

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By industry, CIOs in the transportation sector anticipate the most hiring, with a net 15% planning to expand their IT departments.

For those IT departments that are hiring, finding the right talent can be tough. More than half (54%) of the 1,400 CIOs polled said it's challenging to find skilled professionals today. Network administration is the skill set in greatest demand, cited by 72% of CIOs. Database management and desktop support followed, cited by 67% and 65% of CIOs, respectively.

Meanwhile, nearly all CIOs surveyed are bullish about business in the next three months: 91% expressed confidence in their companies' prospects for growth, compared to 76% who were confident in the third quarter.

"While CIOs project a modest hiring increase in the fourth quarter, IT professionals in certain specialties, such as network administration and database management, will continue to be in strong demand," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement. "The vast majority of CIOs are confident in their firms' growth prospects for the next quarter."

In the bigger picture, IT lags behind in hiring expectations compared to other professional areas. The strongest field, according to Robert Half International, is sales and business development, where a net 33% of executives plan to hire talent in the upcoming quarter. Executives in the legal profession (net 29%) and advertising and marketing field (net 13%) also anticipate strong Q4 hiring.

In its larger cross-profession survey of 4,000 C-level executives and senior managers, 57% said they expect to encounter recruiting challenges in upcoming quarter.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and check out her blog, Occupational Hazards. Her email address is abednarz@nww.com.

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