One out of five CIOs in the United States plans to hire in the first half of this year, according to a survey from tech staffing firm Robert Half Technology. That’s only slightly better than last year.
Still, what’s driving the uptick?
“Technology leaders hope to get ahead on critical initiatives such as cybersecurity projects or digital upgrades in the new year by bringing on more professionals with specialized skills,” says John Reed, senior executive director at Robert Half Technology.
CIOs aren’t the only ones looking to grow their tech ranks, either. Line-of-business executives (LOBs) also want to augment their business teams with tech pros. Tech savvy employees can help LOBs navigate tricky technology purchases, separating technology fact from fiction.
LOBs in vertical industries such as retail, financial services, manufacturing and others are also building digital products, and technical staff can show them the way.
“Looking beyond their internal IT departments, LOBs are staffing their own departments with people in IT-oriented job roles,” says Carolyn April, senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA, in a report last summer.
In the Robert Half Technology survey, CIOs say their top priorities for the first half of this year are securing and safeguarding IT systems and company data, helping grow the business, upgrading existing systems for business efficiency, and investing in new technologies.
However, the skills in greatest demand don’t necessarily line up with these priorities. Here are the top five skills: database management, desktop support, telecommunications support, wireless network management, and business intelligence/reporting services.
For what it’s worth, the top 10 U.S. cities where CIOs plan to hire are San Diego, Atlanta, New York, Austin, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Des Moines, Miami and Cleveland. Among states that have a hard time attracting tech talent are North Dakota, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Connecticut, Alaska, New Mexico, Washington, Montana, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
It’s important to note that Robert Half Technology’s survey showing 20 percent of CIOs planning to hire in the first half of this year is only 5 percent higher than last year. Not a heart-pounding growth rate.
Given all the recent media attention about a tech talent shortage – 60 percent of CIOs say it’s somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals today, says Robert Half Technology – you’d think more CIOs would be in the hiring game.
The lackluster growth rate doesn’t tell the whole story: It’s a tale of two job markets.
As Zero One reported late last year, Forrester says tech wages increased only slightly above the national average. A tech salary survey conducted by Informa, publisher of this site, also found stagnant wages. These aren’t the signs of a hot tech job market.
It’s more probable that LOBs determined to get ahead of disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things, are driving demand and wages for a highly specialized subgroup of tech workers, particularly data scientists and machine learning experts.
Meanwhile, CIOs, who have a diminished role in the tech buying landscape, look to more traditional IT hires in security, database and desktop support.
Tom Kaneshige writes the Zero One blog covering digital transformation, AI, marketing tech and the Internet of Things for line-of-business executives. He is based in Silicon Valley. You can reach him at [email protected]a.com.