The IT Factor Is the Key to Success; There Is Always a Demand for IT Specialists in the Capital, but There Are Also Plenty of Candidates Looking for Jobs - and There Can Now Be as Many as 300 Applications for Each Vacancy. Linda Whitney Reports

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Byline: Linda Whitney

BUSINESSES rely on technology and that means they are always going to need good IT staff. While recruitment freezes may have led to a downturn in recruitment over the last year, the number of vacancies is now beginning to pick up according to leading recruitment consultants, who say that it is those sectors hardest hit by job losses that are seeing the biggest increases in demand.

"Companies in sectors hit hardest by the recession were cutting staff or holding back on recruiting, but now more are calling us looking for staff, and quality positions are coming in," says Elliot Wald of IT specialist recruiter HW Search and Selection in Regent Street.

One of the sectors seeing the biggest increase in terms of vacancies is financial services.

"The financial services sector includes some huge IT employers, and changes such as big bank mergers generate new vacancies for permanent and contract staff," says Fred van der Tang of IT specialist recruiter Abraxas, part of the Ranstad Group.

Other growth areas include pharmaceuticals and life sciences, utilities and the energy sector, which have been relatively unaffected by the recession. Companies in these industries are still looking for IT staff with relevant experience.

"The public sector is still recruiting, but there are initial signs of a slight dip in demand, though this may be only seasonal," says van der Tang.

When it comes to roles, candidates with project management experience are among those in greatest demand -- perhaps as a result of mergers and restructures.

There are also vacancies for business analysts, who examine business processes and work out how IT can help make them more efficient.

Demand for technical support staff is steady, says Wald, and there are possibilities for graduates with IT and related degrees to get in as "first line" support providers, who answer telephones, log the incoming queries, and solve the most basic of user problems.

These jobs offer the possibility of progressing to "second line" support, which involves supporting desktop and server users, and ultimately "third line" roles offering the most complex support to major IT users such as a global institutions moving huge amounts of data.

Regardless of the job, competition is far higher than in the past and employers are now far more specific about their requirements.

"Whereas we may have seen two or three candidates for some vacancies in the past, there are now sometimes 200-300," says Wald.

Candidates can boost their chances by researching vacancies carefully to ensure a correct skills match, creating an individual CV tailored to each vacancy and highlighting the specific skills that the employer is looking for.

"Put exact details of your skills on the first page of your CV so that when the employer is searching through dozens or even hundreds of CVs, your skills show up immediately," advises Wald. …


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