More Cautious Optimism in Silicon Valley

In Silicon Valley, the outlook for the hiring of IT professionals is, at best, cautiously upbeat. In December, the Valley eked out a gain in manufacturing and professional and business services jobs, which includes computer design, according to the California Employment Development Department. The valley’s jobless rate dipped to 11.5 percent from 11.9 percent in November – hardly a gain worthy of popping champagne corks, but a hopeful sign nonetheless.  

Silicon ValleyAnd a few companies are hiring. For example, ArcSight, a networking security firm, held a job fair January 28 at its office in Cupertino to fill 50 technical jobs. "We are seeing strong growth and a resurgence in jobs in information and network security," says Josh Williams, principal researcher at BW Research Partnership. And San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who remains bullish on the employment outlook for tech workers in his city, cited Force10 Networks, Harmonic Technology, and Nanosolar as companies that are expanding.    

Those IT professionals best equipped to land a job in this market are those with "strong foundational skills but who also have broader, expandable skill sets," Williams says. Lily Mok, research vice president at Gartner concurs. "Companies are finding it harder to acquire IT people with a blend of business and technology skills," she says. "We see companies paying a premium to hire those people, even in the downturn."

— Doug Bartholomew