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Hiring Survey: The IT Skills in Highest Demand

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Also See: See the 2009 IT Salary Guide

These are good days to be a network administrator or a desktop support specialist. For that matter, wireless network pros and Windows gurus are also feeling the love.

As seen in the survey results below, IT professionals with certain skills are in deep demand. Robert Half Technology, which provides firms with IT staffers on a full-time and contract basis, surveyed 1,400 CIOs about what skill sets they’re most urgently seeking.

As you peruse the results, notice how they reflect the IT world in its current form and its future direction.

For instance, it’s no surprise that Network experts or Windows administrators are in demand. They form the backbone of today’s enterprise IT department. Likewise with desktop support. Could the rank and file navigate their email account without a helping hand?

Take a look at the high demand for Web development experts – despite that fact that many companies don’t actually sell online. The growth of software-as-a-service and the incessant movement of business toward the Internet keeps these experts well compensated.

Two of the hot jobs are essentially one job: Wireless network management and Telecommunications support. The enterprise is increasingly not only a physical place but a conceptual destination to log-in to remotely. (This trend, along with software-as-service, begs the question: will anything IT-related still reside within the enterprise walls in a few years?)

The survey reveals that .NET and Java continue to be mission critical development environments, regardless of influential skeptics who feel Java is grossly overrepresentedin college classrooms.

And all hail the newcomers: Virtualization, the server-stretching technology that several years ago most CIOs weren’t thinking about, is now needed by a third of companies. (Here’s the scoop about virtualization jobs.) And Open source development, which just a few years ago wasn’t on this list at all, is in demand by about 1 in 5 firms.

On a related note, the survey asked CIOs what they’re doing to “address the challenges of locating skilled IT professionals.” The most popular fix (28%) was to hire less experienced people and train them. Other common solutions included providing current staff with incentives to boost their productivity (26%) and using contract or project-based IT staff (20%). Oddly, 5% of the CIOs answered “don’t know.” It’s safe to assume they’re not getting the most from their staff budget.

CIOs were also asked which techniques they found most effective in improving IT staff retention. Naturally, the top option was increased compensation (27%), followed by professional development and training (21%) and offering flexible schedules (18%). Again, strangely, a solid 11% answered “don’t know.” Given that talented staffers have choices in even a tough job market, that’s a troubling answer for the companies those CIOs work for.

CIOs were asked: Which of the following technical skill sets are most in demand within your IT department?

(All the execs worked for companies with more than 100 employees; they were allowed to select more than one skill. The survey was conducted in September 2008.)

• Network administration (LAN, WAN): 70%

• Windows administration: 69%

• Desktop support: 69%

• Database management: 58%

• Wireless network management: 47%

• Telecommunications support: 44%

• Web development/Website design: 42%

• Business intelligence/reporting services: 33%

• Virtualization: 32%

• .NET development: 22%

• CRM implementation: 22%

• ERP implementation: 20%

• Linux/Unix administration: 20%

• Java development: 17%

• Open source development: 17%

• XML development: 17%

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