Increase in IT jobs continues into 2011

There has been a noticeable increase in IT recruitment levels over the past 18 months, writes Jason Addicott, associate director of IT recruitment at Robert...

There has been a noticeable increase in IT recruitment levels over the past 18 months, writes Jason Addicott, associate director of IT recruitment at Robert Walters.

More roles were available in 2010 than 2009 and this trend has continued into the beginning of 2011.

This improvement in the IT jobs market has primarily been prompted by improving economic conditions and the need and desire for businesses to upgrade existing systems: for the past year or so, firms have had the budget to revisit projects shelved during the downturn.

Although the skill-sets in demand have changed, general hiring levels are now approaching those last seen in 2007, which is encouraging for those working in IT.

In the financial services industry, investment banks and investment management firms have been particularly active with front-office, risk, regulatory and compliance all key hiring areas.

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A significant proportion of recruitment activity within the sector has been development-focused, especially in the front office. In particular, we have seen demand for people who can improve online tracking systems and technical/platform skills that provide firms with a competitive edge. Java and .NET developers have also been sought-after, with firms seeking technologists with proven business-partnering capabilities. Recently, infrastructure professionals have become more in demand as firms have moved to shared services and/or remote servers, such as Cloud.

Commercial businesses have seen consistent demand for infrastructure specialists and professionals with solid enterprise backgrounds. Businesses have also focused on open source technology (Linux and PHP developers have been sought-after) and application development, with iPhone and Blackberry expertise particularly in demand. With more job opportunities available, there has been a growing desire among IT professionals working in financial services to move into commerce as they seek to improve their CVs and improve their work-life balance.

Across all sectors, most hiring activity is at mid to senior level. However, we have seen a growing appetite to hire graduates as more projects have been signed off and employers have become more willing to train up junior-level people. This is obviously encouraging as it shows that organisations are thinking long-term, while also looking to free up their senior staff to focus on development and strategy.

With more opportunities available, IT professionals have increasingly become aware of their own worth. At the end of last year, some received bonus buyouts from firms encouraging them to move, and/or counter-offers from their existing employers trying to persuade them to say. This intense competition for the best people has showed no signs of abating so far in 2011, so it's a good time to be working in IT.

In the first half of 2011 we expect compliance, liquidity, governance, CRM and data to be key recruitment areas. Within financial services, the Basel III rules are likely to affect hiring trends as risk projects are fully-sourced and firms need IT professionals to put the necessary controls in place.

Government investment plans also look set to have a significant impact on the IT industry. In particular, the government has committed to awarding 25% of state IT contracts to SMEs, so recruitment volumes in these businesses are likely to be high.

Robert Walters is a specialist professional recruitment consultancy with 43 offices spanning 20 countries. It places canidates on a permanent, contract and interim basis in accountancy and finance, banking, engineering, operations, legal, information technology, sales and marketing, supply chain, procurement and logistics, human resources, support and administration.

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