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Sunday, 01 July 2012 14:14

Report: I.T. hiring outlook best since 2008

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WEST MICHIGAN — Employers bolstering the ranks of their I.T. staffs may have to boost compensation as well to fill their open positions, as the competition for talent picks up a little in the Grand Rapids area.

The latest outlook from Holland-based Paragon Recruiting found more respondents than six months ago are planning to add I.T. talent, a product of an improved economy and pent-up demand.

"They now have found they have to increase their staffing to keep up in the I.T. area," Paragon chief recruiting officer BethDeWilde said.

Although fewer respondents to the semi-annual survey indicated they planned to increase compensation in the months ahead — 30 percent now, versus 51 percent and 49 percent in the two previous surveys — the increased hiring may begin to force the issue, DeWilde said.

"It's just supply and demand. Talent shortages will start to do that," DeWilde said.

Of the 100 Grand Rapids-area companies responding to the summer/fall survey by Paragon, 61 percent said they planned to hire I.T. staff during the latter half of 2012. Just 1 percent indicated they would cut staff and 38 percent planned to maintain present I.T. staffing levels.

The results reflect continued improvement in the I.T. job market around Grand Rapids that began picking up in the second half of 2010 and represents the best outlook since at least 2008. It compares to six months ago when 57 percent of respondents said they planned to hire, 1 percent intended to cut staff and 42 percent were going to maintain present staffing levels.

DeWilde attributes the improved outlook to more employers hiring for new staff as business improves and replacing positions that turn over as current employees feel confident enough to seek new opportunities or even new careers.

DeWilde suspects that with the improved job market, experienced I.T. professionals are already able to command a little higher salary when seeking a new job after the recession kept the lid on compensation levels, although she doesn't see the signing bonuses that commonly occurred prior to the recession.

"Companies are being a little more realistic about compensation, but it's not full bore," DeWilde said. "We're not completely to that point, but they are listening if somebody says, 'I need X amount of dollars to accept this position.'"

At the same time, any uptick in compensation for incoming talent could also lead to pay raises to retain present staff.

"There's going to be some trickle down," DeWilde said. "They're going to have to start looking at that."

The wholesale/retail sector had the strongest hiring outlook in the latest Paragon survey. Every responding company within that sector indicated it planned to add I.T. staff during the final six months of 2012.

The anticipated hiring ranges from a low of 40 percent of small companies with 51 to 100 employees to a high of 78 percent of large companies with 1,000-plus employees that expect to add I.T. staff during the rest of this year.

Mid-level I.T. staff and people with experience in applications are in the greatest demand, according to survey results.

Read 1340 times Last modified on Sunday, 29 July 2012 22:31

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