The survey was made in part for the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report, which was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals.  The report is based on telephone interviews with 1,400 CIOs of companies across the United States with 100 or more employees. 

The survey revealed that 12 percent of CIOs plan to expand their IT departments in the first quarter of 2009, with those in Mountain and New England regions most optimistic about hiring.

Seventeen percent of CIOs polled cited systems upgrade support as the primary factor behind their technology hiring plans for the first quarter, up from 7 percent projected for the fourth quarter of 2008.

The survey also found information systems security is driving more IT hiring quarter over quarter: 12 percent of CIOs seek more IT personnel to support this area, compared to 7 percent last quarter.

The need for professionals who can install or develop new enterprise-wide applications has decreased, cited by 11 percent of CIOs for the first quarter of 2009, compared to 21 percent projected last quarter, the survey said.

Hiring increase is unchanged at 8 percent from the fourth quarter. Most of the respondents, 82 percent, plan to maintain their current staffing levels.  Only 4 percent expect staff reduction.

Another key finding of the survey reveals the largest firms, those with 1,000 or more employees, expect the greatest staffing increase. 

Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, said businessmen remain cautious in their hiring outlook, recruiting IT staff who can help them maximize the use of technology to improve efficiency, achieve cost savings and gain a competitive edge.  “Investments in Web 2.0 initiatives continue to generate demand in areas such as web development and help desk,” Lee said.

Moreover, network administration is the technical skill set in strongest demand, followed closely by desktop support and Windows administration.  Networking and help desk/desktop support are the job areas experiencing the most growth, the survey found.