Individuals hoping to give themselves the best shot at a new job in information systems should consider specializing in applications development.

That is the finding of a new study by TEKsystems, which looked at the best job opportunities in IT and data management for college grads, and what employers are looking for in new hires. The study was conducted in March of this year, and surveyed more than 250 IT hiring managers across the country.

Hiring managers and recruiters were asked to rank which skill sets provide the greatest opportunity for recent college grads for entry-level jobs, and the degree of difficulty in finding those skills in the job market.

Applications development was the clear top pick, cited by 60 percent of respondents. That was followed by:

  • Technical support (cited by 54 percent)
  • Business and systems analysis (cited by 52 percent)
  • Web development (cited by 48 percent)
  • Networks and systems administration (cited by 39 percent)
  • Networks and systems engineering (cited by 37 percent)
  • Database administration (cited by 35 percent)
  • Quality assurance engineering (cited by 27 percent)

Respondents noted that a strong base in applications development provides a new IT professional with a foundation for future growth in a more specialized area of software development. Furthermore, developer roles are consistently hard to fill, pushing salaries and benefits up.

The study also asked hiring managers for the top programming languages that they seek in new IT professionals. The results were, in order: .Net, SQL, Python, Java and JavaScript.

Highlighting the benefit of seeking out work experience while at school, hiring managers were also asked to rank how important various factors are when considering a job applicant. A work-related internship or experience was by far the top pick, cited by 86 percent of respondents. That was followed by:

  • Referrals or references (cited by 50 percent)
  • GPA (cited by 24 percent)
  • School attended (cited by 18 percent)
  • Extracurricular activities (cited by 11 percent)

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