2017 IT Hiring Trends: Budgets Rising, but Security and Specialized Jobs Remain Hard to Fill

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By: Jeff Bertolucci|

Hiring trends show a stable job market for IT professionals next year, with budgets rebounding and many CIOs planning to either add to or maintain existing IT staff. Skilled jobs remain a challenge to fill, however, specifically security, network, programming and development positions.

These are two of the top findings in recent CIO surveys conducted by a pair of IT-focused staffing and recruitment firms. As reported by CIO, the Robert Half Technology’s IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trends Report and TEKsystems‘ annual IT Forecast offer a mostly positive outlook on tech hiring trends for 2017, as confidence among IT leaders is on the upswing.

But IT’s ability to coordinate with other departments remains a challenge, particularly when IT leaders lose visibility into what other divisions within their organization are up to.

Hiring Trends Focus on Filling Openings

The Robert Half forecast was based on phone interviews with more than 2,500 CIOs across the U.S., all of whom were asked to provide a six-month hiring outlook. It found that a sizable majority (69 percent) of respondents plan to hire only for open IT roles in that period, while 16 percent plan to add more IT staff. Just 12 percent of CIOs said they plan to put their IT hiring plans on hold, whereas 2 percent plan to reduce IT staff.

Job candidates with security and networking expertise among their tech skills will once again find themselves in high demand. When CIOs were asked which IT areas would be most important in the next six months, their two top choices were “maintaining the security of IT systems” and “safeguarding company information,” which 30 percent of respondents picked, followed by “upgrading existing systems for business efficiency,” chosen by 22 percent.

“IT leaders are bringing on full-time staff strategically and focusing on key business priorities, such as enhancing enterprise tools and strengthening IT security,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology.

Salaries Stagnate

Job-seekers probably shouldn’t expect big salary gains in 2017. CIO notes that 63 percent of respondents in TEKsystems’ survey — which polled more than 700 IT leaders in October 2016 — expect overall IT salaries to stay the same next year, and 1 percent predict they will decrease. Only 36 percent of respondents said they plan to boost salaries in 2017.

Budgets Rebound

IT staff may not receive bigger paychecks next year, but IT departments could see additional spending. The vast majority of IT leaders (88 percent) told TEKsystems they expect their IT budget to rise or remain the same in 2017. And 77 percent said most of their organizations’ technology budget will go to IT and operations. Specifically, that spending will target core areas such as information security and data integration — not marketing and sales, the study found.

The ranks of freelance workers should continue to grow next year, a hiring trend that shows no sign of slowing down. TEKsystems respondents predict a small shift in the ratio of full-time IT staff (76 percent) to contingent workers (24 percent) in 2017. That’s down slightly from the 2016 ratio of 80 percent full-time to 20 percent contingent, CIO reports.

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About The Author

Jeff Bertolucci

News Writer

Jeff Bertolucci is a Los Angeles-based journalist specializing in technology, digital media, and education. His work has appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, InformationWeek, PCWorld, Macworld, The Saturday Evening Post, The Los Angeles Times and many other publications.