Anyone who looked for a new position in 2009 faced some pretty stiff competition. Although the situation isn’t expected to improve dramatically for job seekers in 2010, some early signs point to slightly better prospects. A net 3 percent of CIOs surveyed for the most recent Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report anticipate adding IT staff in the first quarter of 2010. That’s the strongest forecast since the first quarter of 2009. Technology professionals with experience in high-demand areas will have the best chance of landing one of these new jobs.
If you’re planning to look for a new position in 2010, here are some of the hot jobs and growing industries offering the best prospects:
Hot IT Jobs
Last year, IT professionals with experience and skills in networking and security were in demand, and this should remain the case through 2010. Developers and support personnel will also prove valuable to employers in the coming year. Following are some specific positions CIOs will likely be looking to fill:
Network administrator: Networks have become more complex, and the requirements placed on them have increased — but it’s more crucial than ever that they function at a high level, at all times. CIOs interviewed for the Hiring Index said that it’s most challenging to find IT professionals with networking skills, such as cloud computing, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Software as a Service (SaaS).
Information systems security manager: New threats are constantly emerging, putting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of a company’s information at risk. Organizations of all sizes and in all industries need IT professionals who can protect them from internal and external breaches.
Applications developer and web developer: Companies are always looking for ways to maximize the effectiveness of key applications, but it’s especially important when they’re trying to cut costs and increase efficiencies. Developers who can write and improve the applications that help a company obtain new customers or allow employees to interact more effectively are in demand. Those with strong web functionality and social media skills are particularly valued.
Systems engineer: As companies begin to put new technologies into practice, systems engineers will be needed to develop and maintain technical infrastructure, as well as hardware and software components, for various IT projects.
Database developer: Organizations are looking to save money through better database management, and some will be seeking developers who can create and maintain cost-efficient databases. Practitioners with strong SQL skills are highly valued.
Help desk and desktop support: Providing support to customers and end users, who often face a sharp learning curve when working with new technologies, remains a critical part of doing business. As companies deploy new systems and programs in 2010, the need for skilled support personnel will remain steady.
As the economy rebounds, some sectors will see an increased need for IT professionals. The wholesale and retail industries, for example, both foresee hiring gains in the first quarter that are well above the national average, according to the Hiring Index. Also, U.S. government stimulus funding is expected to boost IT spending in certain industries.
Following are some of the faster-growing sectors with a need for technology professionals:
Healthcare: The government’s push for the adoption of electronic medical records should create opportunities for IT professionals in hospitals, doctors’ offices and other healthcare facilities. The aging population and the need for constant technology upgrades should further fuel job growth in the industry.
Education: Rising enrollment in higher learning institutions (due in part to job losses) and greater demand for e-learning programs will likely mean more IT jobs and increased spending on technology initiatives in the education sector.
Financial services: Many financial services firms are focusing on meeting new reform and compliance requirements resulting from the global economic crisis. This should generate investments and hiring in technology by these companies.
Always in Demand
The coming year won’t be easy for job seekers. But things will likely get better as the decade unfolds: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that computer and mathematical occupations will add 785,700 new jobs by 2018, and, as a group, they will grow more than twice as fast as the average for all occupations.
No matter what kind of job you’re pursuing, some qualities will always be in demand. It’s more important than ever to exhibit strong communication and leadership skills, as well as a proven ability to collaborate with other departments, given that IT has become more integrated with other areas of most organizations. If you can show that you have multiple skill sets, even better; companies place a high value on IT professionals who can wear many hats and take on new responsibilities as priorities change. Cultivate these skills, and you’ll have a competitive edge in the job market in 2010 — and beyond.
ALSO SEE: The 2010 IT Salary Guide
AND: IT Job Search: The 30 Best IT Job Sites
Dave Willmer is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.rht.com.