While the job market is healthy for IT pros, certain talents are more valuable than others, and it's wise to keep adding to your skills arsenal.
That's the advice of IT veterans to newcomers in the field.
Among 2,400 U.S. CIOs surveyed by Robert Half Technology, 50% said their best career advice for new grads entering the tech industry is to keep learning new skills and stay current in their field. Another 17% of respondents said they'd tell first-time job seekers to take any opportunity that will help them get a foot in the door with an employer.
Other career advice that's popular among CIOs includes: be ready and willing to work long hours (13%), join industry networking groups (8%), and find a mentor (8%).
"Employers want to hire people current with the latest software, tools and trends -- and these are continually evolving. Employees who can hit the ground running with minimal training are highly sought at any level," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement.
In the bigger picture, the hiring scene is healthy for tech pros. IT employment numbers are rising, and CIOs are confident about hiring budgets. On a year-over-year basis, IT employment has grown by 3.2% since June 2013, adding 144,200 IT workers, according to TechServe Alliance, a collaboration of IT and engineering businesses.
When Robert Half Technology asked CIOs about their hiring plans for the next six months, 14% said they plan expand their teams in the last half of 2014. (When the firm asked the same question at the beginning of 2014, 16% were planning to add more staff to their departments.)
Another 76% of CIOs expect to hire only for open IT roles, compared to 67% in the first six months of the year. Meanwhile, the number of CIOs who plan to put a hold on hiring is declining -- 8%, compared to 15% in the previous survey. Just 1% expect to reduce their IT staffing levels (compared to 2% at the start of 2014).
On the talent front, 61% of CIO told Robert Half Technology that it's somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals. The areas where it's hardest to find skilled talent are applications development (cited by 17%), networking (17%) and security (12%). When asked which skills sets are in greatest demand within their IT departments, CIOs called out network administration (57%), database management (52%), and desktop support (52%).