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IT hiring spike strongest in finance, real estate

Recession, what recession? Some CIOs are out holiday shopping for IT staff, especially in certain regions and for certain skills.

A recession around the corner? Not in IT, especially in the western parts of the country, and not in finance, insurance and real estate, according to a new poll from employment consulting and recruitment firm Robert Half Technology.

[That's] three different application providers, but the software has to perform as a single solution and we need one person who can understand all three.
Shawn Mahoney
CIOGID Investment Advisers LLC
Fourteen percent of CIOs said they expect to increase their IT staffs in the fourth quarter of 2007; 2% said they expect cutbacks. The net 12% of CIOs who expect to hire is down slightly from the 15% last quarter, but it's up from the 10% who projected job gains a year ago.

Optimism about fourth-quarter hiring was strongest in the Mountain and Pacific regions, where a net 20% and 19% of CIOs respectively said they plan to add employees. Web and application developers, in particular those with Microsoft .NET skills, are in high demand in both regions.

Why are these people hiring? Business growth was cited by 45% of the hiring CIOs. IT support for customers and end users was a distant second, cited by 18% of the CIOs, followed by installation or development of new companywide applications (15%).

Finance, insurance and the real estate sectors showed the most active hiring. Twenty-three percent of CIOs said they expect to add staff, while 2% said they planned job cuts. The finding seems counterintuitive, given the crisis in the subprime mortgage market. But commercial real estate has shown growth over the past few months, said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based recruiting firm.

Better and faster in-house

CIO Shawn Mahoney is in commercial real estate on the East Coast, but he can attest to the findings. He recently added one person to his 11-member IT staff and plans to make another hire after the first of the year.

"Real estate covers a lot of ground," said Mahoney, who oversees IT at Boston-based GID Investment Advisers LLC, which deals in multifamily properties and light industrial buildings. "Every person who defaults on a home is looking for an apartment to live in. Apartment rentals are going up."

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Time to market is his job driver. Mahoney is bringing some outsourced work back in-house, because he has decided it can be done faster and better internally. "Having a group between you and your data leads to inefficiencies. Basically I found that when I'm rolling out projects, we can lose one or two months because I have an intermediary," Mahoney said.

His company is also deploying "point solutions" that didn't exist before. Customers now can find an apartment, process a check and make moving arrangements online. "[That's] three different application providers, but the software has to perform as a single solution and we need one person who can understand all three," Mahoney said. Coordinating these pieces requires project management skills that he has discovered are better cultivated internally.

The skills in demand? Networking is the hottest job category among the hiring CIOs. Seventy-three percent of CIOs listed Microsoft Windows administration (Server 2000/2003). That was followed closely by network administration in Cisco and Nortel systems (70%) and database management for Oracle, SQL Server and DB2 (60%).

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer

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