A more robust market for IT professionals means employers may have to streamline their hiring processes, according to research released from a Canadian technology recruiting firm.

Toronto-based CNC Global Ltd. said demand for technology skills has almost doubled in Canada over the last 18 months

according to its Quarterly Trending Results, a study that examines demand patterns across the country. Hot jobs within the sector include infrastructure support, networking and help desk, which CNC said account for between 20 to 30 per cent of the hiring activity. Web developers with experience in Microsoft’s .Net framework and Java 2 Enterprise Edition were also highly sought-after, the study said.

Chris Drummond, CNC’s vice-president of marketing, noted that the need for full-time staff has increased 24 per cent over the last two quarters, with Calgary and Ontario experiencing the greatest spike.

“That tells us a lot about the market itself. If people are hiring more on the permanent side, that means they’re confident,” he said. “Calgary is a very confident market, where oil and gas revenues are driving growth throughout the economy, so they’re doing extremely well.”

The CNC study says offers per job candidate have doubled from one to two offers a few years ago to four or more solid offers. As a result, Drummond said, some employers will be forced to accept their second or third choices, unless they pick up the pace of their recruiting efforts.

“They have to make sure that they have the right stakeholders making the decisions, with fewer but more important interviews,” he said. “Employers in the past might have waited several weeks before making a decision. People aren’t just waiting that long now.”

SMBs have been more successful in accelerating their hiring processes, Drummond added, in part because they are more agile than larger organizations.

The increased need for a combination of business and technical skill sets has seen firms like CNC Global partnering with Ryerson University on the latter’s IT Management program. Other post-secondary institutions, like the University of Toronto, have tried to give their students more time with employers through a 16-month “Professional Experience” program. Jonathan Rose, professor and chair of U of T’s electrical and computer engineering department, said ATI last year offered 150 positions through the program.

“It’s not back to the heights that it was, but it’s definitely picking up,” Rose said of the market demand.

While line of business professionals such as CIOs and IT managers have to play a major role in recruiting due to their subject matter expertise, Drummond said HR still adds value in first or second-level screening of candidates. CNC is also seeing much more movement among experienced IT professionals, he added.

“A lot of people are shopping around their resumes right now, much more than we would have seen even six months ago,” he said.

CNC has been among the beneficiaries of the IT sector’s recovery. Last year it was purchased by Torquest Partners Inc., which executives said would give it significant access to additional equity and industry expertise

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