CIOs look for new challenges as optimism returns to job market

Many chief information officers are looking to move into new jobs after remaining in the same post while they waited for the jobs market to stabilise.

Many chief information officers are looking to move into new jobs after remaining in the same post while they waited for the jobs market to stabilise.

A survey of more than 400 chief information officers showed that 62% of them were planning to change their jobs within the next two years.

This contrasts with the fact that only 4% had moved into their current job within the past year, the research by recruitment firm Harvey Nash revealed.

The research also showed that optimism is returning to the IT jobs market at the highest level. In 2004, 46% of chief information officers thought they would move jobs in two years.

But currently, the average length of service for chief information officers is 6.3 years, up more than a year on 2004. The number who have been in their jobs for between four and seven years has grown from 5% in 2000 to nearly 32% in 2005.

Simon La Fosse, director at Harvey Nash, said, "In recent history there have not been the jobs out there and also, with budgets being cut and IS being scrutinised, there is the attitude of, 'Why jump from the frying pan into the fire?'"

But activity in the jobs market for top-level IT professionals was changing, La Fosse said. "There is a lot of uplift in the market. In the past six months we have been busier than at any time in the past couple of years."

Although the majority of chief information officers believe they will change jobs in the next two years, only 17% are actively looking for another job.

"This optimism has yet to be reflected in an increase in the number of CIOs actively looking for a new role. In fact there has been very little change in CIOs' job hunting activity in the past twelve months," said La Fosse.

Money is not the main motivation for changing jobs, the research found. An increase in pay was sixth in the list of reasons for wanting to move, cited by 5% of respondents.

Forty two per cent of chief information officers said a fresh challenge would influence a decision to move.

"CIOs are up for it," La Fosse said. "It is about driving change. For the past three years they have been allowed to do very little other than cutting budgets. They want to help an organisation do things differently and better."

This is not to say that IT leaders are entirely happy with their lot financially. Nearly 33% said they were dissatisfied with remuneration and this is coupled with a drop in bonus payments. There was an 8% increase in those receiving bonuses of less than 1%, and there was a drop in bonuses of between 20% and 99%, Harvey Nash found.

La Fosse said the chief information officer's role increasingly included elements of managing business change and senior IT managers could be well placed to take advantage of this.

"Employers are not necessarily looking for someone who has done this before," he said. "They are looking for excellence in terms of delivery, not just doing things on time and to budget, but doing what they said it would do.

"Change [management] in IS is seen as a generic competence. It will become more commonplace [for the CIO role] to drive change across the group," La Fosse concluded.


The strategic role of CIOs

  • 66% of CIOs believe their role is becoming more strategic
  • 63% believe their role is not as strategic as it needs to be
  • 50% of CIOs are involved in business process change, and
  • 22% want to be involved with business change but are not
  • 65% of CIOs have responsibility outside IT
  • 80% of CIOs want greater responsibility and involvement in business strategy.

Source: Harvey Nash


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