This is not a good time to look for a new job

Sit tight, don't get sacked, and don't expect to bump up your salary with a move to another job - these are the lessons of the...

Sit tight, don't get sacked, and don't expect to bump up your salary with a move to another job - these are the lessons of the latest SSP/ Computer Weekly Quarterly Survey of Appointments Data and Trends.

The total number of vacancies for IT professionals advertised in the national and trade press and on the Web in the first quarter of this year was down more than 50% on the equivalent quarter in 2001. This continuing downturn points to the fact that IT departments are shelving new projects and focusing on maintaining and developing existing systems.

Meanwhile, salaries have risen just 1.2% on last year, barely above the headline inflation rate for February. The average salary of a systems developer has risen only £16 in 12 months.

The three skills most in demand from January to March were C++, SQL and Unix, but demand even for these was down by about 50% on 2001's first quarter.

Of the top 20 skills, the only ones to post a growth in demand over past year were UML (Unified Modelling Language), embedded applications and SAP - which showed the steepest rise in demand, up 376%.

Software engineer proved the most sought-after job - vacancies for them fell by only a fifth - a relatively robust figure compared to the 52% overall average.

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