After two years of writing IT certification books and consulting for SMBs while in Asia, I'll soon be returning stateside and am looking to get back into enterprise IT. Simply put, I miss the big projects, big problems, and big solutions that can only be found in large IT shops. It's been over ten years since I last sought employment, so the editors of E2 and I thought it would be interesting to blog about my observations and experiences while I seek work in a Web 2.0 era. Here is what I've been seeing so far.
Hot jobs in specific IT fields
Fortunately, it would seem that IT as a whole has fared better than many other professions in the US job market. However, employment demand varies greatly depending of your area of expertise. According to a recent cio.com article, software developers by far are the number one most sought-after workers this year. This is especially true for mobile application developers. Datacenter, security, and network infrastructure professionals such as myself are also in demand. The current demand is likely due to the continued adoption of virtualization and cloud computing, which requires significant re-architecture of legacy networks, datacenter facilities, and the security posture protecting them.
Location, location, location
Almost as important as job skills, location seems to be critical to finding work in today's job market. While not everyone can (nor wants to) live in Silicon Valley, there are several cities and states that are hotbeds of IT activity, including Virginia, Colorado, Texas, and North Carolina, which are seeing tremendous IT growth despite an overall economic slowdown for the US. I've had IT managers tell me that unemployment for IT professionals in some of these areas is as low as one percent.
Staff vs. consultant
I've worn the IT staff hat as well as a consulting hat. I enjoy both, but there are advantages and disadvantages to each, and I haven't yet decided which is more appealing. From the limited amount of job-searching I've done so far, it would seem to me that consulting opportunities are easier to find compared to in-house staff positions. This tells me that businesses are still a bit skittish regarding the US economy as a whole. But at the same time, they are hiring more expensive external consultants to advance their IT initiatives for the next few years. It's common way for companies to hedge their bets, and it's been common practice for the industry over the past decade or so while economic conditions ebb and flow. It's also probable that in-house staff are staying put for a while until the overall economy shakes out.
Making contact using social networks
One last job search observation that I'd like to mention is in regard to the actual method of seeking employment. The last time I was looking for a job, I simply sent out mass-emails of my resume to human resource reps and headhunters in the hope of hearing something back. There was a great disconnect because as a job seeker, I never had any names or faces, and job hunting became a very lonely experience. Now that everyone is connected through social networking sites, especially LinkedIn and Twitter, it's easier than ever to find a degree of separation or two into just about any company. I really like the idea of contacting an HR representative directly and having a face and a name to go by. If you send direct messages to people instead of a "firstname.lastname@example.org" address, you typically receive some immediate feedback. Employment seekers no longer have to feel as though they're sending resumes into a black hole, never to be seen or heard from again.
So now the journey begins. I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how to find that perfect IT job in today's environment. I'll be keeping you updated about the status of my job search here on E2 -- I just hope that I'll only need to blog one or two more times before it's complete. If you're reading my 18th job search update blog, it's safe to assume that I'm struggling! If you're looking for a job, too, or you're hiring, share your experiences below.