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9 hot IT skills for 2012

Rick Saia | Sept. 27, 2011
Slowly but surely, many U.S. companies are loosening their viselike grips on IT hiring and looking to add new staffers to bolster business growth in the year ahead.

Big projects need managers, but they also need business analysts who can identify users' needs and translate them for the IT staffers who have to meet those needs and complete projects on time. "The demand has been more for business analysts than project managers," Reed says -- in other words, those who can help deliver projects rather than merely oversee and monitor them.

That's what Sean Masters discovered when he embarked on a job search in March. "When I was framing myself as a systems, network, security or other administrator role, I was hardly getting any attention," says the IT professional from Worcester, Mass. "As soon as I shifted my résumé to list those specific technologies used in accomplishing specific projects, I was suddenly framing myself as an engineer who could not only manage systems, but also plan, design and implement them."

3. Help Desk/Technical Support

• 35% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, down from 43% in the 2010 survey.

As long as technology is used in the workplace, there will be a need for support staffers, be they internal or remote. And in organizations such as Lehigh Valley Health Network, help desk and tech support are points of entry for IT professionals and places to pick up the skills that can advance them into, say, a programming or systems analyst role, says Bankes.

But mobile operating systems "have added a new dimension to help desk and tech support," says David Foote, CEO of IT staffing consultancy Foote Partners. "There are so many operating systems now that the mobile platform, and especially tablets, have quickly shoved aside the old Windows/Mac OS PC desktop axis."

4. Networking

• 35% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, down from 38% in the 2010 survey.

Robert Half's Reed says IT professionals with networking skills continue to be in high demand and have been "for a few quarters." That demand has been fueled, in part, by virtualization and cloud computing projects. In fact, during his recent job search, Masters says he saw heavy interest in virtualization skills.

Reed says hiring managers are looking for people with "practical work experience" in the networking arena, especially if they have worked in an organization that has migrated to a virtualized or cloud-based environment. In particular, they're looking for people with VMware and Citrix experience.

As for certifications, they're important but they're "not driving the market one way or the other," he says.

5. Business Intelligence

• 23% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, up from 13% in the 2010 survey.

Eliassen Group's McBrierty says his firm is starting to see more demand for IT professionals skilled in BI. The uptick indicates a shift from focusing on cost savings to investing in technology that provides access to real-time data, enabling better business decisions.

 

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