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The Hot Jobs for 2006

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Industry observers are expecting a hot IT job market this year with

companies clamoring to hire experienced tech professionals with several

stand-out skill sets.

See Workers in Driver’s Seat in 2006 Job Market.

”There’s going to be fantastic opportunities for people who heeded the

warnings about diversifying their skill sets and understanding the

business,” says Kevin Knaul, executive vice president of the Hudson

Highland Group, a professional staffing and outsourcing company based in

New York City. ”Those folks will put themselves in a great situation.

But those folks focused on a specific technology run the risk of finding

themselves in a tighter market and tighter circumstances.”

Becoming business focused is the main piece of advice for IT

professionals these days. It’s no longer enough to be a skilled

technician. It’s no longer enough to be a specialist. Today, the

professionals who companies are looking to hire will not only have a

wide-ranging skill set, they’ll also understand how the business works

and they’ll have participated in business-side projects and teams.

”They need to get out of the server room and spend more time

understanding the business aspects and the ramifications of technology

decisions that are being made,” says Knaul. ”Those skill sets and

experiences are becoming more in demand. Go beyond the technology and

involve yourself in committees, organizations and the whole business


Another hiring theme for 2006 is project management, according to Scott

Melland, president and chief executive officer of New York-based Dice Inc., an online

recruiting service for IT professionals. With business picking up over

the last year, the time is ripe for companies to begin upgrading their

systems and taking on new IT projects. That means they’ll be needing some

new project managers to run the show.

And a third theme for the new year is open source. ”Last year, we saw a

90 percent increase in that skill set,” says Melland. ”We still see a

lot of companies out there switching to an open source platform. This

trend will continue well into 2006.”

Here’s what Melland and John Challenger, chief executive officer of

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement company, say

will be the hot jobs — and skills — for 2006:

  • Project Managers — This job category grew by 75 percent last

    year, according to Dice. People with experience in managing teams and

    projects, along with business knowledge, still will be in big demand;

  • Security — This remains a hot skill set with companies

    dealing with zero-day exploits, insider attacks and high-profile data

    loss. Melland says people with network security experience and Cisco

    engineers with security experience will be in hot demand;

  • Top-Secret Security Clearance — Someone with just about any

    core skill set who has top-secret security clearance is going to have an

    easier time finding work. The key attribute is the active government

    security clearance;

  • Experienced Programmers — Developers with experience either

    in wide-ranging projects or specifically in .Net or SAP should be looking

    at a good year. The call for SAP-oriented developer positions was up 86

    percent last year, and those with .Net skills were up 84 percent,

    according to Dice. Overall, developer jobs were up about 40 percent to 45


  • Open Source — Analysts expect companies to continue their

    move toward open source and that means they’ll need IT professionals with

    a background in open source technology to help them do that;

  • Wireless — As wireless grids expand, and more and more

    companies go wireless, job demand in this sector will continue to rise;

  • Managers with Business Knowledge — Any IT manager who has

    been involved with business projects and working on teams with the

    business side, should find herself in a powerful position this year;

  • Technical Trainers — Companies are constantly asking their

    workers to learn new technology and smarten up about security, so the

    need for educators will continue.

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