Tech Jobs Plentiful, Talent Is Not

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- While the tech sector remains one of the few bright spots for the U.S. job scene, firms are having a difficult time finding qualified people to hire, a new survey says.

Despite a higher-than-expected rise in overall jobless claims, unemployment in the tech sector hovers around 4% -- less than half the national average.

More than 65% of hiring managers that recruit IT professionals said they plan to hire more aggressively in the second half of 2011 than in the prior six months, according to Dice.com, a tech job board.

Among the firms looking to hire is Google ( GOOG), which recently said that 2011 will be its biggest hiring year ever.

Intel ( INTL), too, said it will add 4,000 new workers this year to its payroll.

Yet finding qualified tech professionals remains a challenge.

The tech industry is facing a talent shortage with available positions staying open for months at a time. About 63% of respondents in Dice's survey cited a lack of talent as the primary reason employers have difficulty filling positions, compared to just 46% six months ago.

Blame innovation for the shortage. A flood of start-ups in entrepreneurial hotbeds like Silicon Valley, New York City, Austin, Seattle and Boston are competing with powerhouses like IBM ( IBM) and Microsoft ( MSFT) to attract engineers, designers and computer scientists.

"It's challenging because I'm interviewing engineers and there will be 10 companies who are giving them offers," said Alan Chan, CEO of Bre.ad, a New York City social recommendation company. Chan said he had to fly cross-country to San Francisco to recruit engineers after having little luck on the East Coast.

The entrepreneurial surge also sees some engineers choosing to forgo working at tech giants -- or even hot, buzzy companies like Facebook -- in favor of starting their own businesses.

"There are people who would be fantastic early employees at start-ups who are instead choosing to first do their own thing," said Jordan Cooper, a venture partner at Lerer Ventures. "A promising start-up that would be built in New York is now having trouble getting the talent to do it."

As the war for tech talent wages on, companies must focus on unique ways to distinguish themselves for potential employees, said Marc Hedlund, chief product officer at cloud-based digital publishing platform Daylife.

"If you're a start-up and competing with a company like Google that gives out very high salary offers, your goal is to try and find someone who is a little unconventional and might not want to work at a traditional company," he said. "You need to have a really good story about why your project is a great one to be working on."

--Written by Olivia Oran in New York.

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