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Four Candidates Compete for Every Tech Job

Although tech hiring is experiencing a seasonal slowing, US recruiters still placed more ads for new tech openings than for other occupations, according to Wanted Analytics.

During October, US recruiters placed 220,000 new job ads for tech-related openings, up 5.7 percent over October 2010, but down from May 2010, when 250,000 tech jobs were advertised.

Some of the most commonly advertised computer programming job titles include project manager, software engineer, Java developer, business analyst, systems administrator, database administrator, and programmer. Of these in-demand jobs, programmers saw the greatest increase, with a 15 percent year-over-year growth. Database administrators were the only occupation of the above mentioned that saw a decline, down 1 percent compared to last year.

Metropolitan areas with the highest hiring demand for technology talent included New York; Washington, DC; Chicago; Atlanta; and Los Angeles. Employers and recruiting firms in New York placed more than 18,000 new job ads, the most of any city. This, however, represented a 1 percent decline in hiring demand versus October 2010. Washington and Los Angeles also saw a year-over-year declines in job ad volume, while Chicago increased by 11 percent and Atlanta grew 27 percent compared to the same time period in 2010.

According to Wanted Analytics' Hiring Scale, which measures conditions in local job markets by comparing hiring demand and labor supply, the nationwide talent pool consists of about four potential candidates per advertised job. However, some locations will find these jobs harder to fill based on a smaller local talent supply. For example, the candidate pool within the Washington, DC metro area consists of 3 potential candidates and jobs ads are online for an average of 45 days, in comparison to the national average of 40 days. The Hiring Scale also shows that the easiest places to recruit for tech talent are Lebanon, Pennsylvania; Beaumont, Texas; and Elkhart, Indiana.

IT Execs See Improving Conditions

Unexpected shocks that roiled global markets also took their toll in the latest CompTIA IT Industry Business Confidence Index, but information technology (IT) industry executives still expect business conditions to improve and sales growth to resume in 2011.

The CompTIA IT Industry Business Confidence Index fell by 5.1 percentage points in Q2, to 54.9 on a 100-point scale. IT industry confidence was shaken by the same events that affected other segments of the economy – natural disasters in Japan, unrest in the Middle East and rising prices in a number of areas, especially oil prices.

Looking ahead, IT industry executives expect the recent bout of uncertainty to abate and sales growth to resume. The CompTIA IT Industry Business Confidence Index is projected to increase 5.2 percentage points over the next two quarters, making up the ground lost in the Q2 reading.

Despite the Q2 dip, IT industry sentiment is still on solid footing. The latest reading exceeds confidence levels for most of 2010.

“Confidence levels about the industry as a whole and about individual companies continue to reflect optimism in a strengthening economy,” said Tim Herbert, vice president, research, CompTIA. “The net positive for the industry now stands at 62 percent, and for individual companies at 64 percent. Not long ago both figures were closer to 50 percent.”

Another positive sign – hiring intent continues to move upward, increasing 2 percentage points to a Q2 rating of 42 percent.

“Hiring is a good indicator of confidence and positive economic momentum,” Herbert said. “Only firms with solid business prospects are willing and able to expand their headcount.”

The CompTIA IT Industry Business Confidence Index is comprised of three metrics: opinions of the US economy, opinions of the IT industry and opinions of one’s company. While the economy component of the Index continues to drag on the overall reading, that trend may be turning around, according to Herbert.

“The gap between the performance of the overall economy and IT industry appears to be closing slightly, which should be viewed positively by IT industry executives,” he said.

Another gap in index results that’s narrowing is the confidence level of small IT businesses compared to their larger counterparts. Throughout the history of the Index, the smallest IT firms (under $1 million in annual revenue) lagged behind medium-sized and larger firms in business confidence.

“This difference has narrowed, however, a sign that the recovery has boosted prospects for businesses of all sizes,” Herbert said.

Among all firms surveyed, the average revenue growth rate expectation for 2011 is 13 percent. The majority of companies will stay in their comfort zone to achieve that goal. Roughly three-fourths will turn to existing customers or new customers within the same vertical market for growth. A minority of firms (20 percent) plan to seek out growth in new vertical markets.

Expenditures by IT firms in many categories will increase or hold steady. Compared to the Q1 Index, some firms will slow the rate of increases in investments in new technology, new business lines and marketing/advertising initiatives.

“This may be a situation where firms committed to the expenditures during Q1 and are now at the point of execution or waiting to see the return on investment,” said Herbert.

On the challenges to growth front, IT industry executives voiced concern over the impact of new, unexpected shocks to the economy. This rating increased 9 percentage points from Q1, rising to a concern rate of 41 percent. Offsetting this negative, a number of other concerns subsided, including weak consumer demand, government regulation, competition from international firms and labor prices and availability.

The CompTIA IT Industry Business Confidence Index is based on an online survey fielded to IT industry executives and professionals in late March 2011. A total of 395 IT companies participated.

Rally Software Moves Headquarters to Accommodate Growth

Agile application lifecycle management solutions provider Rally has relocated its corporate headquarters in Boulder, Colorado to accommodate its growth.

The space inside the 65,545 square-foot building that Rally now occupies was redesigned to align with agile software development practices that focus on collaboration across roles and department silos for improved efficiency and productivity.

Rally is expanding its engineering, sales, and management teams, plus extending its reach into international markets by doubling the size of its London office.

Fueled by the global adoption of agile development practices, Rally has doubled the size of its team in the United Kingdom. Established in 2009, Rally's UK-based team also relocated to a new, collaborative office space to accommodate their growth in professional services, sales support, public agile training courses and on-site product implementation. Karl Scotland recently joined the team as Rally's first official European coach. Scotland is a well-known thought-leader in the Lean, Kanban, and Systems Thinking space who sits on the board of the Lean Systems Consortium.

"We will continue hiring talented people, implementing feedback from our customers, and improving our award-winning Agile ALM platform as we forecast even more growth in 2011," said Tim Miller, Rally's CEO.

As part of Rally's corporate social responsibility mission, the company adhered to sustainable design principles in making its new headquarters energy efficient, less demanding of resources, and recycling-friendly. In addition to using low-impact materials, including recycled carpet and beetle-kill pine, Rally installed motion sensors and Energy Star appliances throughout the new building to conserve energy and reduce environmental impact.

Employing over 240 people worldwide, Rally's active hiring pace will remain steady throughout the first half of 2011. Rally currently has more than 15 positions open in Engineering, IT, Professional Services, Sales, Support, Marketing and Administration. Last year, Rally was named the #6 best place to work in the US by Outside Magazine, and the #1 best place to work in Colorado.

Real Networks Completes Restructuring

With the layoff of 130 employees, or 10 percent of its workforce, media software and services company RealNetworks said it has completed a restructuring that will enable it to focus on creating applications and services to help people connect with their media.

The company, which experienced a 9-percent revenue decline in 2010, hopes to take advantage of skyrocketing digital media consumption rates, the proliferation of Internet-connected devices, the use of multiple operating systems by average consumers, and the steadily increasing use of social media to reposition itself.

"Real has deep expertise in delivering cross-platform media and vast experience selling directly to consumers with a massive installed base. This, combined with relationships with the biggest mobile operators and OEM's in the world, puts us in a strong position to deliver the products and services consumers want and need," CEO Bob Kimball said.

Kimball emphasized that the company will continue to hire in growth areas, including Software as a Service, media cloud services, socialized games, and other emerging products. RealNetworks plans to commercially launch Unifi, its award-winning and first personal media cloud service, in the first half of 2011.

Eliminated positions span most geographies and include positions in engineering, sales, marketing, and administration. As a result of the reduction in workforce, RealNetworks will take a restructuring charge of approximately $3 million in the first quarter and anticipates $11 million in annualized cost savings.

Tech Job Cuts Decline to Lowest Level Since 2000

While the pace of downsizing declined significantly for most industries in 2010, the technology sector fared particularly well, with employers announcing plans to cut 46,825 during the year. That was 73 percent lower than the 174,629 technology job cuts in 2009 and the lowest annual total for the sector in records going back to 2000.

The latest report on technology sector job cuts released Monday by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reveals that planned layoffs plummeted in the second half of 2010. Employers in the sector, which includes computer, electronics, and telecommunications firms,
announced 35,375 job cuts between January and the end of June 2010. From July through the end of the year, job cuts totaled 11,450; a 68 percent drop.

The 73 percent decline in year-over-year job cuts achieved by the sector exceeds the 59 percent decrease in overall job cuts across all industries, which fell from 1,288,033 in 2009 to 529,973 in 2010.

The 46,825 tech-sector job cuts accounted for 8.8 percent of all job cuts in 2010. That is the lowest percentage of technology cuts on record. It is down from 13.6 percent in 2009. In 2001, at the height of the dot.com collapse, technology sector job cuts reached a record high of 695,581, representing 36 percent of all job cuts announced that year (1,956,876).

The most significant drop in technology-sector job cuts was experienced by firms in the electronics industry, which saw job cuts plunge 92 percent from 65,300 in 2009 to 5,072 last year. Job cuts by computer firms dropped 66 percent, while telecommunications companies saw job cuts decrease by 55 percent.

“Many industries are still struggling, even as the economy recovers. The technology sector does not appear to be in this camp, however. These firms are definitely on the leading edge of the recovery, as companies across the country and around the globe begin to upgrade and reinvest in their technology. The surge in smart phones and tablets alone is helping to drive growth in electronics, telecom and computers,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Industry analysts expect the tech sector to continue its recovery in 2011. According to a survey by the trade publication InformationWeek, 55 percent of information technology professionals said their companies will increase IT spending in 2011, while only 19 percent expect IT spending to fall and 26 percent expect it to remain unchanged. Meanwhile, Forrester Research forecast that 2011 IT spending will increase 7.5 percent in the US and 7.1 percent globally.

Technology jobs will not only see gains in the coming the coming year, but they are among the occupations that will realize the fastest growth over the next decade. The number of network systems and data communications analysts is expected to increase by 53 percent by 2018, while the number of computer software engineers expands by 34 percent, according to projections recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“None of this means that finding a job will be easy for technology workers in 2011. Finding a job is never easy, even in the best economy. Despite the potential for improved hiring in the new year, there are still a lot people competing for every opening and many employers are very particular about what skills and experience they want new workers to have,” said Challenger.

“It is critical that technology workers continually update their skills in order to remain competitive. It is necessary to maintain a balance between having specialized skills and having the flexibility of a generalist. It may also be necessary to expand one’s search to more industries or geographically,” he advised.

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