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2011 IT Employment Outlook

2011 IT Employment Outlook

The IT job market for hands-on, highly skilled information technology professionals was picking up at the end of 2010, and IT employment for midlevel managers will do the same by the second quarter of 2011, experts say. 

“Most of the IT people who were laid off over the past two years were managers with no current technical skills, including line managers, project managers and business analysts,” says David Marceau, vice president at Ridgefield One, a Connecticut IT staffing agency. “Their responsibilities were then dumped on the techies, who were forced to wear multiple hats, often for the same or even lower pay.”

As the economy improves in 2011, IT hiring will pick up as companies implement projects they put off during the recession and rehire those laid-off project managers, he says.

Companies will also need to hire network engineers, developers and support-desk personnel to help install replacements for slow or obsolete systems, servers and networks, says Tammy Browning, senior vice president at Yoh, a Philadelphia-based staffing firm.

“Project managers in companies will become more in demand, along with IT business analysts who can bridge the gap between business and process,” Browning says. “Those were the first people to go, but it’s also where we have the biggest gap in the industry between what’s forecast and what’s needed to execute on company plans.”

To take advantage of this IT hiring trend:
Growing Demand for Mobile Apps

Some domestic IT jobs lost during the recession, like programming and telephone help-desk support, won’t be coming back, because workers in other countries can do those jobs at a significantly lower cost, says Steven Ostrowski, director of corporate communications for the Computing Technology Industry Association.

But at the same time, IT hiring in other niches is booming due to wholesale changes in technology and business brought on by mobile computing, Browning says.

“The skill sets in demand include mobile app developers, quality-assurance testers and usability experts,” she says. “Android developers, Symbian OS developers and software developers with Java, .Net, SharePoint and Visual Basic for Applications [experience] will be in huge demand.”

To take advantage of this IT hiring trend:
  • Develop an app using Symbian.
  • Sell your tech skills to small businesses that need help with their location-based listings on Google, Yahoo or Bing or their Web sites optimized for multitouch devices.

Contract IT Hiring Up

While economists keep referring to the economic recovery as being “jobless,” it’s really more “full-time job-less.” Contingent, flexible, project- and contract-based IT employment is picking up.

“If you’re not interested in doing contracts or working for an agency, reconsider,” Browning says. “That area is going to be booming. Think of it as being a free agent who can play the field and try on companies for size. Use this market to your advantage.”

To take advantage of this IT hiring trend:
  • Call on your existing network and tell them you’re now interested in contract assignments.
  • Target large employers that had significant layoffs during the downturn. They’re likely to be wary of hiring full-time staffers and receptive to contract employees.
Look to Security and Healthcare

The volume, seriousness and sophistication of security threats aimed at public and private organizations will continue to expand in 2011, making security a hot sector for IT employment, Ostrowski says.

The federal government’s new Cyber Security Command in Fort Meade, Maryland, will create an IT hiring hot spot in 2011, but companies of all sizes and in every location will need security professionals with the skills to keep their data protected, he says.

The healthcare business, which wasn’t hit nearly as hard by the recession as other industries, will also be a source of IT jobs in 2011 as practices migrate to electronic medical records. “There’s going to be a need for people with skills and knowledge in both IT and healthcare,” Ostrowski predicts.

To take advantage of this IT hiring trend:
  • Earn a master’s in healthcare administration.
  • Get a security-related certification.
  • Check out federal IT security jobs at USAJobs.
  • In addition to healthcare, target your search to other industries economists predict will expand in 2011: manufacturing, nonprofit, and oil and gas.

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