As we prepare to enter 2017, many CIOs are reflecting on the year ahead and assembling the right team to address new and ongoing challenges. Some 85% of US CIOs said they plan to continuing hiring in IT positions in the first half of the new year, with 16% expanding the number of positions available, and 69% filling open positions, according to a new report from Robert Half Technology.
Maintaining the security of IT systems and safeguarding company information topped the list of biggest concerns for IT leaders, according to the report.
"The hiring environment for technology professionals is still tight," John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, told TechRepublic. "There is notable demand for security and networking professionals right now, and leaders are seeking talent with those specialized skills to help drive initiatives as we enter a new year."
Technology leaders should be especially focused on the retention of their top talent in the new year, as professionals with the right skills have access to a number of opportunities, Reed said.
Other factors that CIOs expect will be of concern in the next six months besides recruitment and security were upgrading existing systems for business efficiency (22%), helping grow the business (17%), innovation and investing in new technologies (16%), and retaining staff (15%).
The Technology IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trends Report, released Thursday, was based on phone interviews with more than 2,500 CIOs from 25 major US markets.
Despite security concerns, recruiting for these and other tech positions remains difficult: 61% of CIOs said it was either somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals today. The following skills were cited as most in-demand going into 2017:
- Database management (44%)
- Desktop support (42%)
- Network administration (42%)
- Cybersecurity (41%)
However, not all companies are expanding their tech staff: Some 12% of CIOs said they were putting IT hiring plans on hold, and just 2% said they were reducing IT staff.
In terms of attracting and retaining quality candidates in in-demand fields, Reed recommends researching the salary range and benefits local competitors in your market are offering, as competitive compensation packages are vital. "But, tech professionals also want to know that they'll be working on interesting projects and that they'll have the ability to grow and learn within the organization," Reed said. "It's key to highlight to potential candidates how they'll be contributing and what their growth path will look like within your team."
Technology leaders should also be aware that the skills they seek for their teams are also probably in-demand with other businesses in their area, Reed said. Therefore, when they find a candidate that has a strong skill set, they shouldn't hesitate to make an offer.
These findings echo a September report from Modis, in which 40% of CXOs said that external security threats were the largest worry for their company, but that security and infrastructure skills were the most difficult to find in job candidates.
It's also not a surprise that many enterprises plan to expand their IT teams: Digital transformation efforts are underway at many companies, and such plans are often owned by CIOs.
However, IT departments are often sidelined in finding ways to innovate, according to a recent survey from SAP and the Economist Intelligence Unit. It's imperative that these tech leaders continue to demonstrate the relevance of their IT team in terms of cybersecurity skills and the ability to connect front and back-end processes, Gianni Giacomelli, chief innovation officer at Genpact, and head of its Genpact Research Institute, told TechRepublic.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- In the first half of 2017, 85% of CIOs said they plan to add more staff to their technology teams, according to a new report from Robert Half Technology.
- The biggest concerns for IT leaders going into the new year are maintaining the security of IT systems, and safeguarding company information.
- The most in-demand tech jobs going into 2017 were in database management, desktop support, network administration, and cybersecurity.
- 15 US cities with the highest salaries for cybersecurity jobs (TechRepublic)
- Predictions 2017: A year of action (ZDNet)
- IT hiring is broken. Here are three ways to fix it. (TechRepublic)
- Digitally enable the businesses - don't just digitally transform (ZDNet)
- Facebook testing a jobs feature, set to compete with LinkedIn, Indeed (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.