The rising optimism among IT pros coincides with an increase in the number of open positions and a shortage of workers with the skills to fill those jobs. But while some people are in high demand, others find themselves sitting on the sidelines.
Hot, hot, hot
For the third year in a row, application development was the most sought-after skill: 49% of all managers who expect to hire this year said it was on their wish list.
Help desk and IT support skills ranked second, with 44% of managers expecting to fill jobs in those areas this year. That's up from 37% in 2013 — the biggest year-over-year increase in our survey.
Not surprisingly, some organizations are having a tough time meeting salary demands.
It took six months to find a do-it-all help desk staffer to meet the growing technology demands of the Monadnock Regional School District in Swanzey, N.H., says Neal Richardson, the district's director of technology.
"We had very highly qualified candidates; we just couldn't meet their salary requirements," which were $15,000 to $20,000 higher than the district could pay, he recalls. "We ended up going with [someone with] less experience."
Public school IT professionals once accepted lower salaries in return for perks such as low-cost insurance and summers off, Richardson says. But school boards are whittling those benefits away. For instance, IT jobs are now year-round positions, he says.
Third place on the list of the most in-demand skills saw a tie between business intelligence skills and database analysis and development expertise, with 29% of hiring managers saying they planned to increase staffing in those areas.
"All things data" are red hot, says David Foote, CEO at Foote Partners, an IT labor market analyst firm. Titles such as data administrator, database developer and database architect are grabbing recruiters' attention, especially for positions in larger companies.
Rounding out the top 10 in-demand skills among 2014 survey respondents were security, network administration, networking, cloud computing, Web design and development, and data management.
Headhunter calls, unfilled positions
With demand outpacing supply for many positions, more than half of our survey takers (54%) said a headhunter has contacted them in the past year.
"I get a lot of job offers from staffing companies and corporations that need a ton of DBAs and SQL administrators," says Erin Baker, CIO at payroll processing firm Fastpay Payroll in Lubbock, Texas. He says he receives five to 10 calls a year from recruiters, and "most often they're looking for SQL DBA or SQL programming skills."
Though some offers have been tempting, Baker says no company has been able to beat the perks of his current job, which include weekends off, flexible hours and the opportunity to work from home.
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