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Weathering the storm: Business CIOs are safest

Ross O. Storey | Feb. 11, 2009
What will be the information technology employment landscape for 2009? What are the best strategies for survival? A range of pundits share their views about IT recruitment, salary and employment prospects for the year ahead.

Egon Zehnders Chia advises IT decision-makers to work harder as well as smarter and to become lateral thinkers.

We will all have to put in more hours to get the same output as there will be more competitors, fewer resources, less patience to wait and limited pricing power, he says. You need to pedal faster just to keep up with everyone else who is just as motivated as you.

Think laterally. If youve always been an in-house IT architect, dont assume your next job has to be in the same area. Consider moving to a vendor and selling IT services to companies.

Think about working for a consulting firm, advising on IT architecture. Be a freelance consultant tied to a network of other freelancers, working on a virtual basis. Volunteer your skills to build visibility. If youre between jobs, help at a non-profit or non-governmental organisation so that you get to network with movers and shakers in your community, and can add tangible projects to your CV.    

Demand for skills

Korn/Ferry Internationals managing director for Singapore and Indonesia, Gerard Chai, says although the IT employment environment will remain difficult, there is still demand and a shortage of skilled people in selected areas.

We see opportunities in financial services, logistics, the public sector and healthcare, Chai says. Industries that will scale back their IT recruitment include manufacturing, retail, hospitality and transportation. We expect companies to make an effort to keep their most effective employees yet at the same time weed out non-performers. Companies will reorganise to meet the changing environment, adopting a more regional or global platform. Some companies will also make a stronger push towards outsourcing or adopt the software-as-a-service model.

Economic downturn

Leon Hendra, division manager for Robert Half Technology (RHT) Tokyo, says the economic downturn has had a direct and significant impact on IT recruitment especially at a senior level over the last six months.

With a lack of new initiatives, division and project management roles have dropped off significantly, says Hendra.

Coupled with a higher than usual number of senior candidates looking for roles due to layoffs and instability in the market, this has turned a normally candidate-driven market on its head.

In many cases, this situation has lead to clients increasing the level of minimum requirements that they will accept in applicants as well as trying to keep offered salaries as low as possible.

Hendra says that despite this, there is, as always, a market for the top-tier professionals and clients are still willing to pay a premium to secure them. Senior IT professionals looking for new opportunities in 2009 will be expected to demonstrate a wide range of understanding, covering multiple disciplines and offering prospective employees an effective cost-reduction strategy.


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