US companies are planning a 12% increase in hiring IT workers in Q1 of 2006 (a year ago, in Q1 of 2005, that number was a 9%). The 12% number matched the percentage from Q4 of 2005, which was the highest percentage in 3 and 1/2 years. This data comes from the IT Hiring Index and Skills Report (from the Robert Half Technology firm), which conducted a survey of 1,400 CIOs from US companies that have at least 100 employees. Robert Half has been doing this report since 1995.

Some of the highlights of the latest report include:

  • Windows Administration was the skillset most in demand (mentioned by 81% of CIOs), followed by Wireless network management (50%) and SQL Server management (46%)
  • The job specialties most in demand were networking (rated the top demand by 22% of CIOs), help desk (13%), and applications development (11%)
  • The the finance, insurance and real estate sector (a combined group) was the top hiring job sector for the second consecutive quarter
  • The Mountain states were the hottest region, while the South Atlantic states were also expecting to hire above the national norms
  • Large companies are doing the most aggressive hiring

Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, commented, “Many managers are accelerating the hiring process because the most skilled individuals receive multiple offers.  Those that delay the process too long, risk losing top candidates.”

The bottom line is that the IT job market appears to be making its long-expected comeback after 4-5 really tough years. Of course, you always have to be careful when looking at national data like this. The local and regional variances can be significant. You can look at the report itself to get more info on trends for specific regions and metro areas.