December 23, 2016


Hiring is a challenge for CIOs, and it won’t get much easier in the coming year, particularly for IT departments that are trying to fill key security and networking roles.

Two staffing and recruiting firms that specialize in IT – Robert Half Technology and TEKsystems – each released research this week that offers a glimpse of what’s expected on the hiring front in 2017. Here are some highlights from their respective reports.

1. Don’t expect widespread salary gains

A majority of IT leaders – 63% – expect overall 2017 IT salaries to stay the same compared to 2016 rates, and 1% expect salaries to decrease in the coming year. Just 36% of IT leaders say they plan to increase overall IT salaries in 2017, according to TEKsystems’ annual IT Forecast.

“This is quite low, and could stand in the way of companies trying to attract IT talent,” TEKsystems says of the lackluster number of companies planning overall raises. “Given the competitiveness of the IT labor market, it is important for companies to evaluate the compensation packages they offer IT talent. Many organizations are relying on rate cards from several years ago, and the IT segment is suffering a degree of wage stagnation.”

2. Some skills are more likely to elicit raises

While most CIOs aren’t planning department-wide salary boosts, a greater number of tech leaders will be giving raises to certain in-demand roles, TEKsystems reports. The most common skill sets that will be rewarded with salary increases are programmers and developers (50% of CIOs say they expect to increase salaries for these roles); software engineers (cited by 47%); security (45%); and cloud (43%).

3. IT headcount expanding for some, but not most

Most CIOs plan to be in hiring mode next year – but only a fraction of those CIOs are actually adding new positions: 16% plan to add more staff to their IT departments in the first half of 2017, and 69% plan to hire only for open IT roles, according to Robert Half Technology’s IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trends Report. Among the remainder, 12% plan to put IT hiring plans on hold, and 2% plan to reduce IT staff.

4. Contingent IT staff increasing

IT leaders report that in 2016, 80% of their IT team members are full-time staffers and 20% are contingent workers. Looking ahead to 2017, CIOs are predicting a slight shift in the ratio of full-time staff (76%) to contingent workers (24%), TEKsystems reports.

“Continuing on the note of cautious optimism and increased investment in technology, hiring expectations for both full-time roles and contingent staff have increased steadily since 2015,” TEKsystems reports. “The percentage of full-time versus contingent staff remains consistent over the same time period, with a slight rebalancing back toward contingent staff.”

5. Skills in greatest demand

Roughly 61% of CIOs said it’s somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals today, according to Robert Half Technology. When asked which skills are in greatest demand, CIOs said they’re most in need of database management (cited by 44%), desktop support (42%), network administration (42%), and cybersecurity (41%) skills.

TEKsystems also asked IT leaders to name the skills they expect to be the most difficult to find next year. Most commonly cited in the TEKsystems report are programmers and developers (42%), networking (29%), security (28%), and architects (28%).

6. Career expectations

Meanwhile, for a view from the other side of the table, Spiceworks asked IT pros how they feel about their job and salary prospects for 2017. As it turns out, many IT pros will be on the move next year: 37% plan to begin searching for a new employer in 2017, and 26% plan to accept a new job, according to Spiceworks’ 2017 Tech Career Outlook.

Additionally, more than half (59%) of respondents believe they’re underpaid, yet only 24% expect a salary increase from their current employer in excess of 5% in 2017, and only 12% expect a promotion.

7. Employees on the move

Multiple factors are driving people’s desire for a job change, according to the Spiceworks survey. The most frequently cited reasons are: to advance my IT skills (cited by 69%); to get a more competitive salary (64%); to work at a company that makes IT more of a priority (40%); I’m burnt out at my current job (40%); to find a better work-life balance (38%); to get better benefits (401k, healthcare) (33%); to work with a more talented IT team (26%); to get better work-from-home options (24%); to get a better job title (22%).

“Many IT professionals believe they’re underpaid and their department is underfunded,” said Peter Tsai, IT analyst at Spiceworks, in a statement. “This is leading many tech professionals to take advantage of the favorable job market expected next year and seek employers that prioritize their IT department, invest in tech talent, and provide adequate resources IT professionals need to be successful.”

Data sources

Robert Half Technology based its report on telephone interviews with 2,500 CIOs from 25 major U.S. markets who were asked to provide a six-month hiring outlook.

For its annual IT forecast, TEKsystems polled 700 IT leaders and asked about their expectations for IT spending, skills requirements and organizational challenges in 2017.

Spiceworks, which makes free IT management software and has built a community of IT pros, surveyed 476 respondents from North America and EMEA for its career outlook.

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