In today's economy, many CIOs and human resources (HR) leaders continue to be required to do more with less, and will not be able to restore budgets and head count to pre-recession levels, according to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. The survey showed that the recovery in jobs or an increase in head count during the past 12 months was in short-term, temporary contractor positions more than in permanent staff positions.

According to a survey of 358 U.S.-based organizations effective March 1, 2010, the median rate of increase in IT head count was 6.3 percent across all respondents. About 28 percent of those surveyed reported no change in IT head count for the period of March 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010.

“These survey results continue to show a slow job market with organizations being cautious about increasing staff levels, leading to fewer new hires and more vacancies left unfilled,” said Lily Mok, vice president at Gartner. “While we expect hiring activities to slowly pick up over the next 12 to 18 months as market conditions improve, we think it is unlikely that many IT organizations will return to their pre-recession staffing levels.”

The level of difficulty in filling job vacancies is a good indicator of the strength of the employment market. The survey showed a weaker job market than a year ago, as reflected in fewer organizations reporting significant difficulty in filling vacancies during the last 12-month period. The overall average number of months to fill selected jobs also dropped, from 3.3 months in the 2009 study to 2.8 months this year.

"Despite the fact that there was some level of ease in hiring during the last 12 months, IT organizations continued to face challenges in finding quality candidates for a number of jobs," said Ms. Mok. "Even though there may be more people available to hire in the market, they don't necessarily have the right skills for the available jobs."

The impact of the downturn on the job market continues to linger well after the initial round of layoffs. Reflecting employees' fear of market uncertainties, the median IT voluntary turnover rate (with retirements) during the last 12-month period dropped to a record low of 3.0 percent.

"The voluntary turnover rate will not stay at the current low level for the long term. As more organizations resume hiring, employees will re-evaluate their current job situation, and contemplate and entertain external opportunities that may become available. The employee groups at higher risk for turnover are the high performers and individuals with high in-demand or critical skills," said Diane Berry, managing vice president at Gartner. "Retention efforts at this time should be focused on identifying the profile of workforce you can't afford to lose, understanding what will keep them engaged and motivated, and addressing any potential issues and concerns that could lead to turnover."

The Gartner 2010 IT Market Compensation Study provides strategic and tactical benchmarking information for IT workforce management in the area of recruitment, retention, reward, recognition, work-life balance, career development and training programs. This study provides base salary, total cash compensation and short-term incentive/bonus data for 155 benchmark jobs that were grouped into 26 job families.

This study provides HR and IT leaders with a guide to help them craft a total rewards strategy to bring their IT organizations ahead of the curve to ride out this recession. Additional information about this report is available by e-mailing