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7 hot IT skills for 2013

The number of companies planning to hire tech professionals continues to grow, with 33% of the 334 IT executives who responded to Computerworld's 2013 Forecast survey saying they plan to increase head count in the next 12 months.
This is the third year in a row that the percentage of respondents with hiring plans has risen -- up from 29% last year, 23% in 2010 and 20% in 2009.
"When you look at just about any research or market trend, IT is one of the top two or three always mentioned as a bright spot in the job market, and it's pretty simple why," says John Reed, senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half Technology. "When you look at technology, it drives so much of what business does, from productivity to communication to improving speed to making better business decisions. So companies are investing in that, and you have to have the people experienced in doing that."
New hiresWhat changes do you expect in your IT employee headcount in the next 12 months?DecreaseIncreaseRemain the same20092010201120122013Year01020304050607080Percent
Data from 2013 Forecast Survey (Base: 334; June 2012), 2012 Survey, 2011 Survey, 2010 Survey and 2009 Survey. Mouse over graph to get data details; click on items in chart key to turn them on and off.
Of course, IT leaders aren't hiring technologists indiscriminately. They're seeking specific skills to deliver what the business needs to compete today. Here's a look at the top 10 skills for 2013.
Special Report

1. Programming and Application Development

60% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
Companies put off projects during the recession, but now they're playing catch-up and looking for staff to keep up, according to Reed.
"Technology and software are great ways for companies to improve productivity, lower costs and create better Web presence," he says, adding that companies will need staffers to create new and better technology to do those things.
That's the case at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, says Jason Griffin, vice president and technology talent acquisition manager. "Our top needs are in programming and application development," he says. "We're just looking for more to meet the business need. The business [units] are investing in new products, they're looking for ways to provide products and services to meet customer needs."
Griffin, like others, says he's specifically looking for people with experience in Java, J2EE and .Net.

2. Project Management

40% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
The ongoing need for project management skills tracks with the continuing need for programmers: Both are responses to the demand for new applications that businesses need to compete.
"More projects mean more project managers," Reed says, noting that companies want experience as well as credentials, such as the Project Management Professional designation.
Jamie Hamilton, vice president of software engineering at Detroit-based Quicken Loans, says project manager jobs will be among the 100 new positions his company plans to add to its 800-strong IT team.
Hamilton says demand for project managers is strong in part because projects are growing more complex as the connectivity between applications increases.
Successful candidates need to have proven track records. "Three things are key for us, and they're more around behavior: Are you a leader, and do you operate as a leader? Do you have a history of executing? What's your behavior around detail?" Hamilton says.

3. Help Desk/Technical Support

35% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
Jack Wolf, vice president and CIO at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, says he has a list of initiatives to pursue, including deployments of new radiology systems and electronic health record applications. To ensure success, he's looking not only for people to build and implement the systems, but also for tech support workers to help employees use them.
"New systems mean you need more help desk people to handle the increase in calls we expect," Wolf says.
He's far from the only one searching for such skills. Tech staffing firm Modis reports that help desk technician is the job title that companies most often seek help filling.

4. Security

27% plan hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
Security has long been a concern of IT leaders, and demand for specialized security professionals is growing as the task of safeguarding systems and data becomes increasingly complex.
Consider the case of Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics, which has U.S. headquarters in Andover, Mass.
Cynthia Burkhardt, vice president of talent acquisition, says the company is building its IT security department internationally. It hired a chief information security officer, who is based in the Netherlands, and it's adding four more IT security executives -- two of whom will be based in the U.S. She says the company expects to continue building its IT security team from the top down.
Burkhardt says Royal Philips wants experienced IT security professionals who have business acumen in addition to expertise in deploying firewalls, threat detection tools, encryption technology and other security systems.

5. Business Intelligence/Analytics

26% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
Big data is one of the top priorities for many companies, but getting the right people to analyze all that information is challenging, says Jerry Luftman, managing director at the Global Institute for IT Management and a leader in the Society for Information Management.
The best candidates have technical know-how, business knowledge and strong statistical and mathematical backgrounds -- an uncommon mix of skills, Luftman says. In fact, some companies are hiring statisticians and teaching them about technology and business.
Joe Fuller, CIO at Dominion Enterprises, a marketing services company in Norfolk, Va., says he anticipates hiring data scientists or data analysts in the future but acknowledges that it will be a challenge.
"We're missing that person who thinks outside the box, who understands the link between this behavior now and this behavior later," Fuller says. "I don't know who to look for there, so I think it's [going to be] a team. I can't imagine finding that in one person."

6. Cloud/SaaS

25% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
Fuller's staffing plan at Dominion Enterprises is also a case study for skill No. 6, which didn't even crack the top 10 in the 2011 survey: He says the company will need cloud computing experts as it moves beyond its two existing data centers.
"We're going to need a cloud architect who knows how to leverage and how to architect without breaking the bank," he says. "We're going to need to know where we should host it, how to configure it, how to negotiate the [service-level agreements], and to make sure we're backed up properly."

7. Virtualization

24% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
Jon A. Biskner, assistant vice president of IT at Nicolet National Bank in Green Bay, Wis., says he wants to create a virtualization administrator position.
"It's hard to find someone who is fully skilled in virtualization," Biskner says. "They have to understand the storage and clusters behind the virtual server because before the connection was more physical; now it's more logical." IT professionals talk about virtualization, he adds, but often they don't have a breadth of experience with it.
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