Hiring Projections Show Increase

Companies are still hiring IT professionals – although not at the pace seen during the dot-com boom. Hiring can occur, says David Foote, president of Foote Partners LLC, in New Canaan, Conn., at the same time some companies are walking other staff out the back door.

According to Foote, 48 per cent of 1,745 companies that his firm tracks plan to add personnel. However, cautions Foote, these projections do not mean companies overall will be increasing IT staff size. “[Managers are] not saying that they’re growing their IT staff size. A number of those companies are firing some IT professionals but still hiring others….They’re bringing in the skills they need and realigning their IT work force.”

A different survey conducted for RHI Consulting Inc., in Menlo Park, Calif., polled 1,400 IT execs in companies with 100 or more employees. According to RHI’s quarterly Information Technology Hiring Index, 18 per cent of respondents plan to increase overall IT staffing levels during the fourth quarter of 2001, whereas just 3 per cent expect to make overall staffing cuts. Seventy-six per cent of IT execs plan to maintain IT staffing at current levels; 3 per cent do not know what their fourth-quarter 2001 staffing changes will be.

View To 2002

Barbra Cooper, CIO at Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., in Torrance, Calif., is looking to increase her IT staff during the fourth quarter 2001. “I held off hiring for most of the year to complete a staffing strategy to better target where to shift our ‘owned’ resources vs. contracted resources,” Cooper says. As a result of her work, Toyota recently posted 20 new open IT positions to add to the 10 already listed.

Cooper is representative of a hiring trend. The RHI Index’s projected 15 per cent overall increase in IT hiring for the fourth quarter 2001 is up slightly from the previous quarter, which found 15 per cent of respondents planned to add IT staff and 4 per cent planned layoffs during the third quarter of 2001.

Still, despite the slight uptick, fourth quarter 2001 results are still six points lower than hiring projections made for both the second quarter 2001 and the fourth quarter 2000.

Hold On

Despite the slight increase in hiring projections, 76 per cent of polled IT execs plan to maintain existing IT staffing levels. That percentage is down three points from 79 per cent last quarter.

Nico Potgieter is not planning to add any additional staff for the foreseeable future. Potgieter, CIO for Thinq Learning Solutions Inc., a Billerica, Mass.-based e-learning solutions provider, says he’s fully staffed to meet his current needs. “Thinq grew fast and furiously, as did many companies. We recruited IT staff to meet the demands of our product growth and development….I do not foresee any major hiring in the near future,” Potgieter says.

In fact quality hires and cost containment are common themes with many managers. “While companies do not appear to be undertaking as many large-scale IT initiatives in the current economic climate, they are investing in smaller projects to maximize their existing information systems,” says Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of RHI Consulting.

Lee believes that is good news for senior talent. “Businesses are seeking experienced professionals in such areas as network and database administration who can assess their firms’ ongoing technology needs and recommend cost-effective solutions.”

Lee noted that the anticipated fourth-quarter spike in hiring may be the result of companies having cut staff levels too deeply in recent months.

Loretta W. Prencipe is the senior editor in charge of InfoWorld’s Professional Edge section. Contact her atloretta_prencipe@infoworld.com.