While the IT job market is as attractive as ever, experts say having knowledge in several specialty areas can make some candidates more in demand than others.
A study by staffing firm Robert Half International suggests businesses are planning for a 10 percent increase in IT staffing in 2012 — and some jobs, they say, are tougher to fill than others. Several experts from across the IT industry weighed in on what skills are most in demand among IT professionals.
E-Commerce Programming —Barbara Viola, president of Viotech Solutions
With recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce showing nearly $200 billion in online sales last year, the e-commerce business is booming.
IT specialists skilled in helping businesses build online shopping websites, as well as those who specialize in maintaining and securing them, are finding themselves very hirable, Viola said.
"Everybody has a website these days, and more companies are feeling comfortable about doing business online," Viola said.
Mobility– Chuck Lennon, president of TeamLogic IT
Many companies are seeking IT professionals that are up-to-speed on current IT trends impacting businesses today. But Lennon said they're also looking for those who are forward-thinking about the trends of tomorrow — including the ever-changing role of mobile devices in the workplace.
As businesses become more open to letting employees use mobile devices to work outside the office, there is an increasing need for IT specialists with knowledge in securing the numerous devices and developing ways for them to be more useful in the workplace.
"Mobility is huge, and the advent of someone in the IT department having the title of chief mobility officer is not a crazy thought," Lennon said.
While the individual skills are important, Lennon added that today's employers also are seeking people who understand the impact of how all the trends are impacting each other.
"You can’t talk about mobility today without a thorough understanding of networking and connectivity, Lennon said. "And you can’t talk about connectivity without having a clear understanding of the security implications."
Cybersecurity– Norbert Kubilus, president of the Association of Information Technology Professionals
With the number of security breaches reaching record levels in 2011, the need for IT specialists charged with securing systems, networks and data will continue to be in demand, Kubilus said.
"Protecting systems and the information maintained on them is job No. 1 right now," Kubilus said.
While other positions — including those in business intelligence and virtual storage management — also are in demand, Kubilus said all that information must have someone responsible for making sure it's safe.
"It brings us back to insuring that these networks are secure," he said.
Business Intelligence —Mark Cudmore, business intelligence expert and director at Shaw Communications
Organizations increasingly are looking to mine the vast amount of data they collect to determine things such as customer sentiment and service issues, so business intelligence is a specialty that will become more and more valuable, Cudmore said.
"This is a massive amount of data that requires whole new approaches to be able to squeeze intelligence out of it," Cudmore said.
Since intelligence is so closely linked to answering critical questions that could impact the bottom line, Cudmore said experience in this area is a huge asset for job-seekers.
The perfect candidate would have an understanding of the type of data generated by the industry and the key questions that are of importance to the business, Cudmore said.
"Finding someone with this blend of technical and business knowledge is a tall order to fill," he said.
Cloud Computing —Bob Shinn, senior managing partner of cloud strategy for Cloud Silver Lining
More than 60 percent of businesses are planning to use some form of cloud computing this year, and Shinn said IT specialists with those specialty skills should consequently have no problem finding a job.
"I have more demand than I can handle right now," Shinn said of his firm, which consults businesses on how best to adopt the cloud.
A drastic improvement in services coupled with a reduction in costs is driving companies to the cloud, Shinn said.
"It comes at a time when companies are looking to reduce expenses," he said.
And though some may feel the cloud is just a passing fad, Shinn said those with a background in virtual infrastructures will be in demand for a while.
"Whether or not it's always called 'the cloud,' I don't know," Shinn said. "The core technology piece will be the same, though."