CFOs, CIOs planning to add staff in first quarter

Companies increasingly optimistic: Robert Half

Looking toward the new year, chief financial officers (CFOs) expect the financial hiring outlook to improve in the first quarter. Ten per cent of executives surveyed by Robert Half Financial said they plan to add full-time accounting and finance employees, while only one per cent forecast staff decreases. The resulting net nine per cent increase is up one point from the fourth-quarter survey.

As hiring plans may be gaining traction, companies are also increasingly optimistic about the overall outlook for their companies. Ninety-one per cent of more than 270 executives surveyed expressed at least some confidence in their firms' growth potential, up from 89 per cent in the fourth quarter, found the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index.

"Companies are hiring staff who can help make their organizations more efficient and profitable in the new year," said Kathryn Bolt, Canadian president of Robert Half. "In high-demand specialties, such as areas within accounting and finance, skilled professionals are now becoming increasingly comfortable with exploring new roles at other firms."

Executives in the business services and finance, insurance and real estate sectors anticipate the most hiring activity in the first quarter, according to the survey. A net 21 per cent and 20 per cent of CFOs said they plan to add staff, respectively.

Net 8 per cent of CIOs planning to add IT staff

A net eight per cent of CIOs plan to add IT staff in the first quarter of 2012, down 14 percentage points from the last quarter, according to the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. In the survey of more than 270 chief information officers (CIOs), 10 per cent said they plan to expand their IT departments and two per cent expect cutbacks. Eighty-seven per cent of CIOs said they anticipate no change in staff levels.

Eighty-eight per cent of CIOs are confident in their companies' growth prospects in the next three months, up two points from the last quarter.

However, 64 per cent said it's challenging to find skilled professionals today, up 15 points from the previous quarter. Network administration and desktop support professionals are in greatest demand, according to the survey.

“As companies continue to implement new technologies, customer and end-user facing roles remain critical, as well as those that help firms maximize their efficiency," said Lara Dodo, regional vice-president of Robert Half Technology in Canada. "There continues to be demand for help desk and desktop support professionals, as well as network administrators."

The functional areas in which executives say they are experiencing the greatest challenge in finding skilled IT professionals are security (21 per cent) and applications development (17 per cent). Web development/web design, software development and networking followed, cited by 10 per cent, nine per cent and eight per cent of survey respondents, respectively.

Network administration remains the skill set in greatest demand, cited by 75 per cent of CIOs. Desktop support and Windows administration were next, with 71 per cent and 70 per cent of the response, respectively.

Executives in the construction industry expect the most IT hiring in the first quarter. A net 26 per cent of CIOs in this sector plan to expand their IT departments, found Robert Half Technology. This was followed by the retail industry, with a net 15 per cent of technology leaders anticipating hiring increases. The transportation sector was next, with a net 13 per cent of executives in these industries planning to add staff.

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