Triangle technology job seekers with specialized skills have a glimmer of hope in what has been a dark IT jobs market as one in 10 Raleigh-area IT executives plan to expand their teams in the second quarter, according to a new survey from Robert Half Technology.

It’s the first time that Robert Half has conducted the survey of the Raleigh market, so there’s no comparison data. But for perspective, Chris McCrea, a regional vice president for Robert Half in Raleigh, said that you need to look at where the job market was a few years ago when the economic downturn clamped down on hiring in IT as well as other sectors.

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“It’s absolutely changing for the better,” he said. “I think it’s been picking up for the last year and a half now and it’s getting better and better.

While 10 percent of surveyed CIOs said that they would be expanding, 69 percent said that they will be hiring only to fill open IT positions. According to the survey, 17 percent have put their plans on hold and 2 percent expect to cut staffing. The survey consisted of telephone interviews of more than 100 Raleigh-area CIOs working in companies with 100 or more employees.

If hiring prospects are improving, those plans mark a contrast to the monthly IT job trends reports released by the North Carolina Technology Association. The February report noted that North Carolina IT job postings in January were up 6.8 percent compared to December. But year over year, postings are down 12.9 percent. The NCTA report is compiled with data provided by talent management firm SkillProof and analysis from The Select Group.

While the NCTA report reflects the overall IT jobs market, the Robert Half survey reflects hiring needs for specialized IT workers. McCrea said that from Robert Half’s perspective, the economic downturn had the effect of driving IT workers out of the IT field. The exodus left a dearth of qualified IT people in specialized positions and these are the kinds of workers that CIOs are clamoring for. While these specialized IT workers are in high demand they are also most likely already employed, McCrea said.

“And if they’re looking, they can be very selective,” he said. “They have a lot of opportunities to choose from.”

McCrea said that skills that are in high demand for workers include web development and web design, database management and network administration.

Workers might need to take lower-paying positions or take on additional training and certification in order to attain the specialization that some CIOs are seeking.

IT jobs in Charlotte, nationwide

Robert Half also surveyed the Charlotte market. Similar to the Triangle, 10 percent of surveyed CIOs plan to expand their IT teams in the second quarter. But 62 percent of Charlotte CIOs plan to hire only to fill open IT roles. Another 25 percent have put their hiring plans on hold while none of those CIOs surveyed expect to reduce staffing.

McCrea had less specific information on IT jobs trends in Charlotte, but he said that that market is also showing rising demand for workers with experience in web development and database management.

Nationwide, the Robert Half survey found that 14 percent of CIOs plan to expand their IT teams in the second quarter and 61 percent plan to hire only for specialized positions. While 22 percent said they would put their IT plans on hold, 2 percent said they would be reducing IT staff.