IT Workers Still In Demand

February 3, 2006
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HOLLAND — Local job prospects are looking strong for those in the information technology field, according to a survey by Paragon Recruiting.

Beth DeWilde, Paragon principal and chief recruiting officer, said the survey shows that 35 percent of participants are looking to hire IT employees in the next six months.

Though the majority of companies are staying the same, DeWilde said only 4 percent are planning to decrease their work force.

Of the companies that outsource their technology instead of hiring, the majority are working with local firms, leading to additional employees at such firms as C/D/H, a professional technology consulting group, and CQL Corp., a software and data base development company.

Smaller companies — those with 100 or fewer employees — are planning to do the most hiring, DeWilde said.  Fifty-six percent of companies with 51 to 100 employees plan to hire in the next six months; the figure is 48 percent for companies with one to 50 employees.

This contrasts with only 25 percent to 36 percent of companies with more than 100 employees reporting they plan to hire new workers soon.

The survey shows that IT application is the most common area for new hires, followed by systems and support. Mid-level jobs are more available than junior or senior positions.

DeWilde has been compiling a technology employment forecast since the second half of 2003, using a brief questionnaire.

Questions relate to whether companies are going to increase, decrease or keep IT staff the same; whether they are hiring for systems, support or applications; and, if they are outsourcing, whether it is local, national or offshore. Of the 500 surveys sent out to companies, government entities and schools, DeWilde said she receives about 100 back.

The survey is conducted within a 65-mile radius of Grand Rapids, including Lansing and Kalamazoo.

Paul Hillman, president of C/D/H, said his company has hired five new employees in 2005, bringing the firm up to 22, and is planning to hire five more this year.

“We’re a high-end technology consulting group, so most of our people have substantial years experience in the industry,” he said.

Hillman said hiring is strong in information technology.

“We had this big run up to Y2K; they either spent or over-spent their budgets,” he said. “Now companies just have to refresh. The technology has changed quite a bit in the past four or five years.”

Last year was the best year in C/D/H’s 15-year history; it expanded, with a new office in Detroit, Hillman said.

“Right now, we have plans in ’06 to surpass that,” he said.

Mark Lardieri, president of CQL Corp., said his company has been hiring since June of 2005, with four new employees and 10 new contractors.

“It’s just that the market’s a good market right now for IT people looking for jobs,” he said. “I’d say we’re looking to hire permanently another six to eight hires.”

Lardieri said his company will be hiring software developers and architects.

“The overall IT market has been on an upswing since March of 2003,” he said. “Companies have been cutting size and trying to get more efficient. Technology helps increase their efficiency.”

DeWilde said she works to match employers with IT professionals throughout the field, from IT systems analysts to chief information officers and electronic engineers.

Through initiating relationships with companies in the area, DeWilde determines which companies will be hiring and for what position. She works with the companies to find suitable applicants, and also seeks out companies for job applicants. DeWilde evaluates the needs of both parties and does reference checks for the companies so they know the applicant fits.

DeWilde said applicants should not discount the smaller firms.

“There are companies that do so many interesting things that deal with technology that people don’t even know about,” she said. “There is definitely a lot of opportunity in this area,” she said.

DeWilde said it has been interesting to watch the trends in hiring over the years.

“That’s our job, to always be aware of what’s going on in the market,” she said.

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