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Katherine Spencer Lee's predictions for 2002

Despite the ongoing economic contraction, companies of all sizes continued to invest in technology in 2001 -- although much more judiciously than in the recent past. As a result, expect demand for experienced IT talent to stay strong.

One trend that emerged from the slowing economy was that businesses took longer to make hiring decisions in an effort to extend employment offers to only the most qualified candidates. Those who possessed the exact skill sets and industry backgrounds received offers. Moreover, to prevent overhiring, many firms chose to keep full-time staffing level and bring in consultants with specific skills during busy time periods or for projects of a set duration.

So, what's the outlook for 2002?

According to RHI Consulting's quarterly Information Technology Hiring Index, CIOs expect a slowdown in IT hiring in the first quarter of 2002. Approximately 15% of executives surveyed said their companies plan to add IT staff and only four percent anticipate reductions. The net 11 percent increase -- down four percentage points from the prior quarter's forecast -- is the lowest in the survey's seven-year history.

Long term, employment will continue to be negatively impacted by the weakening economy. Job seekers who can implement and support technologies designed to improve productivity, efficiency and a company's bottom-line will have the most success in this market. Candidates with expertise in multiple technologies or platforms will command premium compensation. Individuals with experience in specialties such as network security, database design and administration, and customer relationship management will also be in demand.

Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of RHI Consulting, a leading consulting services firm specializing in placing IT professionals. A graduate of Northern Arizona State University, Katherine has been with RHI Consulting since 1995 and has more than ten years of experience in IT staffing and career management issues. She is a spokesperson, author of industry articles and frequent public speaker on information technology staffing. She is also an active member of Women in Technology International.

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