After Strong November, December Job Outlook Down

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November was a good month for the IT job market. Hiring was up, and high-tech professionals were feeling more positive about their jobs and their financial well-being.

December, however, may not be all about holiday cheer. Analysts say they're expecting hiring to slow as managers haggle over budgets and try to figure out what projects they can afford to go ahead with in 2006.

''December tends to be an anxious time for the folks looking to be hired, for the managers doing the hiring, and even for those who are employed right now but who are wondering what will happen next year,'' says Kevin Knaul, executive vice president of the Hudson Highland Group, a professional staffing and outsourcing company based in New York City. ''There's a reluctancy for executing, hiring and coordinating all the things that have to do with bringing on new staff at a time when people are getting ready to take time off.''

While December may raise concerns, November dispelled some for many IT professionals.

Hudson Highland analysts report that renewed confidence in personal finances and heightened job satisfaction both spurred on a strong month. Forty-eight percent of the workers in the IT sector reported that their financial situations were improving in November, up from 38 percent the previous month, Hudson Highland reports. There was a 6-percentage-point drop to 35 percent in the number reporting that their finances were getting worse. And job satisfaction rose five points to 76 percent in November.

However, not all the numbers were rosy. The IT workforce was significantly more likely to expect layoffs in November, as that figure increased from 22 percent to 27 percent. The number of workers concerned about job security rose five points to 32 percent.

Strong November

''We are seeing the strongest month of November that we've seen in the last three years,'' Knaul told Datamation. ''That shows a positive direction for some of these companies and the budgets they're working on. If they know they have funding for projects going into 2006, then they have to look and see if they have the staff to get those projects done. If not, they have to hire on.''

David Foote, president and chief research officer of Foote Partners, LLC., a New Canaan, Conn.-based industry research firm, says hiring was so good in November that companies actually were stealing workers from each other -- something that hasn't been happening in any big numbers since the dot-com boom.

''What's interesting is that there's kind of a tech talent war going on right now,'' says Foote. ''Consulting firms are stealing employees from their clients. Clients are stealing from their service providers.

''What do you want? You want people with technical chops and technical experience and vertical industry experience,'' adds Foote. ''If you're a hospital and you're doing something with patient record systems, before you would have gone out and hired the best Oracle DBAs you could and you'd teach them about the industry. Now, they say they want the tech experience but they also want the industry experience so they don't have to deal with a big learning curve.''

Foote says the skills that have been in high demand include, application development, business intelligence, database developers, wireless engineers and administrators and business architects.

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