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What is the Tech Jobs Situation in Late 2004? 1138

Posted by Cliff
from the a-boom-or-a-shortage dept.
CareerConfused asks: "Today I came across an ad in the NY Times, put out by Microsoft, Micron, Level 3 (among others) that claimed that the H-1B visa quota for FY2005 has already expired (it claims the quota expired the first day of FY2005, which started just about a month back). OK. On the one hand, we have stories of techies not finding jobs; and on the other, we have stories from businesses which claim that lack of H1s is killing their business, as well as public advocacy (like that ad in NYT). So, what is it? Are we in another boom, with jobs going a-begging and companies requiring more H1s to fill them? How come I haven't noticed this in the form of a fatter paycheck (or an Aeron chair, or a fooseball table in the cubicle)?" What have you experienced in your searches for technology-based jobs? Is it still hard to sell your hard-earned skills or are things looking up?
While its one thing to claim that the lack of H1Bs is killing your business because Americans don't want to move to Fort Wayne, Indiana. It's quite another to say that you can't find a job in Silicon Valley. What's needed is an overall view of how tech jobs are doing across the country. What areas are in desperate need of technical skills and what areas are suffering from a shortage of jobs?
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What is the Tech Jobs Situation in Late 2004?

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  • by Jeffery (810339) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:37PM (#10865679)
    i couldn't find much in Houston, TX of all places, very tech orientated city, ended up joining the military for a real tech job. 2E251: Computer, Network, Cryptographic, and Switching Systems :) hell yea.
    • by CrudPuppy (33870) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#10865787) Homepage
      I think on the whole your luck will depend on your particular field, your degree, and most importantly your skill level.

      I am a UNIX admin, 10 years experience, currently admin'ing about 1000 Sun servers. I am definitely a "new school" type admin, utilizing Perl and other tools to work smarter, not harder. B.S. degree in science/math field from large university.

      I haven't found the market to be horrible in the Philadelphia/Delaware area. I think I've been lucky, but I have not ever taken a pay cut to this day.

      I think good UNIX and network people will be in demand for the forseeable future. Not so sure about Windows admins and coders.
      • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:50PM (#10866776) Journal
        It is also a matter of where you are at. Here in Colorado, jobs are being exported or even companies are being bought and then having the jobs sent to the east coast, Texas, or Florida. Worse, our govornor has been worthless on doing anything to try and keep jobs here. While other states are recruiting the companies to theirs.
        • by mrlpz (605212) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:01PM (#10866910)
          Where exactly in Florida ? Because I'll tell you right now that they haven't been coming to South Florida.

          We've got more H1B's per capita than you can shake a stick at. Right now, I think I'm one of less than a handful who are US Citz, the rest here are H1B's. And believe me, there were more than enough people locally to perform these jobs.

          It's not a matter of NOT finding people to perform the job, it's a matter of companies not finding people to do the job FOR WHAT the companies feel like paying. Never mind you that there are plenty of qualified candidates, don't be fooled, there are. Companies will use the boo-hoo-hoo excuse to not provide higher compensation packages.

          There ARE people out there to do the job, that CAN do the job, companies just don't feel they're worth it. And frankly, the excuse of comparing a BS ( or higher ) educated CompSci individual with a migrant farm worker, is not only ridiculous...it's getting old. Detractors....find a better analogy. I doubt you will, but by all means, knock yourselves out trying.

          And for those "chosen" few. You can STILL be a Republican, and speak up about Outsourcing being as major an issue as is "Homeland Security". If you don't get it, you just don't. Don't worry, the rest of us won't hold it against you. We're just as responsible as the rest of us in the GOP, we just don't feel like giving up our jobs.
        • by rutledjw (447990) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:39PM (#10869217) Homepage
          It depends on the skill set and talent level. I manage a team of sys admins and network admins in Denver. We spent over 3 months looking for a senior person. (UNIX/Linux with decent network knowledge).

          My company has been active in layoffs (we just bought an online travel site and have lots of "redundancies") but in speaking with a recuiter I usually use to GET people - he commented that he had placed lots of folks from my company who were leaving (either laid off or sick of the parent company - which I am as well).

          Further - not to be brutal, but Colorado is tech heavy but had a LOT of scuds who were overpaid and underperforming in the bubble. Since, some talented folks HAVE left CO and others have found jobs they aren't willing to leave. The market for really good people is still tight. Where are you located and what's your skillset? I could always use a bad@ss Linux/*nix admin...

          That being said, our governor IS worthless

      • I'm 23, have been using/messing around with Linux/Solaris since I was 18 and have a BS in CS from University of Delaware. I currently live in Delaware. Where are these jobs? I'd be very interested if you could help me. I am willing to compensate anyone for their efforts [ashdreams.net] (that's my site/resume).
      • by releppes (829336) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:37PM (#10867356)
        Not to sound crass, but I think the key word here is luck. I too have 8+ years in UNIX admin, BS in EE and a BS in CS. Always had great reviews and many raises. Worked for Xerox, Kodak, and Cantor Fitzgerald. All big companies, all great experiences. I was laid off last year before Christmas. All part of the outsourcing fad. Anyway, I haven't been able to find a job yet. Still unemployed and no unemployment left to collect. From my view of the world, jobs are very limited. But that's just me. I've been very unlucky in my job search. Now with being out of the work force for so long, it's even harder to land employment. All I can say is if things are going well for you, then concider yourself fortunate. And if in your current job, you even remotely think things will turn bad (downsizing), imediately find a new job. Once you get laid off, it's very hard to get that next job. Trust me, employers are very prejudice about laid off employees. In my particular case, the whole department got whacked, but that doesn't matter. No matter how good you are, never think you have it made. After all, that's what I did, and what a mistake it was.
    • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#10865793) Homepage
      ...best of all, if your superiors decide that you're not really cut out for a tech position after all, they've got all sorts of exciting opportunities to offer you to these days!
    • Hmmm... never thought switching systems could elicit a 'Hell Yeah'.

      The other route you could have taken would have been to become a DoD contractor. They tend to have fewer responsibilities, make more money in the short and long term, and rarely get deployed overseas into combat zones.

      M
    • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:00PM (#10865993) Homepage Journal
      Sucker. Here's the real scoop. (Assuming Army)

      Basic Training (8 Weeks): Rolling in mud. Getting yelled at. Pushups. KP.

      AIT (8-40 Weeks depending on MOS): "Learning" how to do your wiz-bang commo-crypto stuff from NCOs who are so incompetent that the only place the Army dare send them is . . . AIT.

      First Duty Station (1-2 years): Pick up cigarette butts. Run a buffer.

      Second Duty Station (1-2 years): Pick up cigarette butts. Run a buffer. Do something related to your MOS on occasion.

      Third Duty Station (remainder of enlistment): Supervise the picking up of cigarette butts. Teach FNGs how to run the buffer without banging the shit out of the walls and/or exhausting themselves. Do something related to your MOS fairly regularly. Be shit upon by NCOs for every little thing that goes wrong in the unit.

      Enjoy.

      -Peter
      • by Safety Cap (253500) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:17PM (#10866239) Homepage Journal
        First Duty Station (1-2 years): Pick up cigarette butts. Run a buffer.

        Second Duty Station (1-2 years): Pick up cigarette butts. Run a buffer. Do something related to your MOS on occasion.

        I managed to purge the memory of that damn circa-1950 buffer (don't get it near the teevee or anyone with a pacemaker!) for over a decade, and you bring it back like the hot fist at the end of a wet kiss.

        I probably won't sleep for days, now.

    • by macrom (537566) <macrom75@hotmail.com> on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:02PM (#10866030) Homepage
      The father of my step-children is in the Army, and is about to head off for his second 12 month tour in Iraq. He's been to Germany, Kosovo and Afghanistan over the last several years. While he has some great skills from being in networking and satellite communications, his marriage fell apart and his kids call me 'dad' because they've never really seen him. Everytime he's moved post, they've messed up his pay, messed up his insurance for the kids, or botched something else up. He often has little to no choice in where he is stationed because the technical field skills are not needed at every military base in the US (or abroad). Luckily he is near his kids this time (until he leave for Iraq next week), but who knows what happens when he comes back. If he's needed at Fort Middle-Of-Nowhere in South Dakota, then that's where he goes. All of this in exchange for being deployed in areas where you are surrounded by people that want you dead.

      The military is good for some people I suppose, but after knowing someone this closely I can't believe anyone with a family would opt for that kind of life. I've heard it's better if you can go the route of a CO, but the majority of the armed forces aren't that high level. It's definitely not like the commercials on TV with soldiers jet skiing and playing golf -- at least not in my personal opinion formed by observing from afar.
      • True (Score:3, Interesting)

        by paranode (671698)
        I've heard it's better if you can go the route of a CO, but the majority of the armed forces aren't that high level. It's definitely not like the commercials on TV with soldiers jet skiing and playing golf -- at least not in my personal opinion formed by observing from afar.

        Yes I agree, their marketing is a little dubious. Most of the jobs they show you that look interesting are the ones that require you to be an Officer and hence have a college degree. I have the utmost respect for people that would m

      • Having grown up military, I can say from a much more personal perspective that while during times of war, the ops tempo of the Armed Forces does indeed mean that you will see your family less, he was doing something wrong. My father was a Navy Officer for 18 years, and while he did indeed have positions where he was deployed up to 8-10 months out of the year, the services themselves provide an outstanding support structure for spouses and families of deployed personnel.

        If he was having issues as severe a

    • by Rei (128717) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:16PM (#10866220) Homepage
      Good luck. I have a friend who joined whose MOS is as a lab tech - you know, analyzing biopsies and stuff like that in a hospital. They changed the specialty for everyone in his unit to "combat medic", redeployed them to Fort Bragg, and are going to be sending them to the middle of the Sunni Triangle. The window for deployment opens today.

      Anyone who things they're getting a get-out-of-iraq-free card when they join the military with a non-combat MOS should seriously think again.
    • That's because Houston isn't Austin. Austin is tech-oriented. Houston is just trying to be. Perhaps that's why Austin has a "silicon hills" and Houston has enron, NASA, and the shitty workplace known as Compaq.
  • by sjalex (757770) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:37PM (#10865683)
    Houston market stinks. Maybe still holdover from enron, I don't know.
    • I have relatives in the Oil IT industry in Houston, and times are good for them. Of course, they weren't working for Enron, but a lot of relatively smaller oil companies appear to be hiring IT workers. This is anecdotal, but it seems to me that Houston IT workers in the oil industry fared _much_ better during the bust years thanks to higher oil prices.

      Unfortunately, the vast majority of oil co's are Microsoft shops.
  • well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by over_exposed (623791) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#10865687) Homepage
    My company has been seeing a lot of turnover (both incoming and outgoing) lately. People leave because of better jobs and people come in because this place is better than where they were. I'm not sure if that means the market is better or worse, but it's certainly a little more mobile than I remember.
    • by gosand (234100) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:55PM (#10865927)
      My company has been seeing a lot of turnover (both incoming and outgoing) lately. People leave because of better jobs and people come in because this place is better than where they were. I'm not sure if that means the market is better or worse, but it's certainly a little more mobile than I remember.

      Well, if other places are like where I work, people are looking for jobs because they are tired of VPs who got fat bonuses this year telling them "you don't get a raise this year, and you are lucky you even have a job." They are willing to treat their employees like crap because the market will bear it. You can only take that for so long before you start looking. Because I work for a very large company, if the market picks up it would be a year or two before I would see any benefits from it (like a raise). Therefore, my best option is to get out as soon as possible. It may take longer to accomplish this because of the market, but that is what I am working towards.

  • I don't get it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by VE3ECM (818278) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#10865692)
    I married an American, which exempted me from needing H1 status.

    Moved here, and had a great paying job as a Data Analyst in NYC within a week.

    If I can do it... either you're spending all of your time just looking online (which is doomed for failure) or you just don't know how to properly search/interview for a job.

    An employment councillor can help you with either problem.

    • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot&nexusuk,org> on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:41PM (#10865741) Homepage
      I married an American, which exempted me from needing H1 status.
      If I can do it...


      Most slashdotters are falling down a few stages before the "getting married". :)
    • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by micromoog (206608) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:17PM (#10866249)
      You forgot "Let them eat cake."

      Seriously, dude, just because you had a single good experience in one of the hottest IT markets in the country does not mean the less fortunate are all doing something wrong. Sheesh.

  • by CrankyFool (680025) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:39PM (#10865701)
    In the Bay Area, at least, the three datapoints I have are:
    1. Google's still screaming for people to join them (well, OK, they then axe highly-competent people during their interview process, but I'm sure it's for the best :) );
    2. When I was looking for a job in late August, I ended up in a competitive bidding situation between two companies;
    3. The company for which I work now (which has a fabulous environment, IMHO), is looking to hire people, so far with no great success. Of course, we're also looking for pretty decent people :)

    It's getting better, I think.
    • I'm still getting calls from companies in the Bay Area. The problem is that none of them pay enough to support a family outside of a slum. $80-100k is decent, but not when a "fixer-upper" costs $500k and needs $100k in repairs to keep it from falling down when you slam the door.
    • Point to the jobs (Score:3, Informative)

      by Skapare (16644)

      Put your hyperlink where your mouth is, and point to the jobs. That can be either on your company website careers section (don't expect people to find it via google for quite a while), or the listings at your preferred online job site if you do that kind of thing. Otherwise we'll assume you're just blowing smoke like most of the corporate executives are doing.

      • I think I'm a little insulted at the suggestion I'm a corporate exec :)

        But seriously, look, there's a reason I don't mention where I work here. I don't want my behavior here to be at all attached to my company, or for my company's behavior elsewhere to be at all attached to perceptions of what I write here. I'm not writing here as a company representative, I'm here as an IT (now software-testing/project management/whatever) guy on his personal time.

        So get off the "you must be lying about the jobs" thing
  • by Skyshadow (508) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:39PM (#10865704) Homepage
    I suspect I'm in the same situation as a lot of /.'ers. The best way to sum it up would be to say that it's much, much better than it was but still not great.

    I've spent about two and a half years now in a fairly stable job at a big company. I work with people I either like or don't mind, the work is sufficiantly satisfying even considering that I have to occassionally deal with big company political bullshit, the hours are reasonable and I (obviously) still have time to do some light /.'ing. All of this is a significant improvement over the two startup jobs I had back in 2001 where the hours were insane, the people were nutjobs and I was very, very unhappy.

    OTOH, I've been more or less in limbo in terms of pay. Despite adding considerably to my skillset, I've gotten extremely modest raises that have more or less kept up with inflation if you don't count in gas prices.

    Aside from that: Items like Aeron chairs and foosball tables and game systems in the break room and people keeping excessively odd hours can stay gone. I never liked those -- maybe I'm an exception, but I'm at work to *work*, I want to get my work done and leave. I'm working so I can afford to have a life outside of work, not because I really get off on plugging away on my TPS reports. The absolute worst part about all of those "perks" were that they slowed down the whole works and as a side effect created an expectation that you should live at work more than the 8-9 hours a day God intended. "Where's Bob? I need him to look over something." "Oh, he's playing in the Wednesday Tekken Tourney, he'll be out in an hour or two"...

    Back to the subject at hand, though: The environment now is such that I could probably go make more money someplace else, but to be honest I am *extremely* hesitant to stick my head back out there after getting bitchslapped so badly last time.

    • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:00PM (#10865995) Journal

      Aside from that: Items like Aeron chairs and foosball tables and game systems in the break room and people keeping excessively odd hours can stay gone. I never liked those...

      I was going to post more or less the same thing but you beat me to the punch. I wanted to smack the submitter when I read him whinning about not seeing foosball tables making a return. All that shit was complete waste. Those days are gone, my friends. Here at slashdot we like to laugh at how stupid management is. But they are smart enough not to get burned twice on buying a lot of pointless shit like that.

      I think it's time for programmers to stop waxing nostalgic about crap and start worrying more about how to make programming in the US (as opposed to outsourcing it) a valuable commodity. Time to start worrying about saving up enough money that you might actually get a chance to retire when Social Security collapses. Time to start paying more attention to whether a prospective employer has a solid medical plan rather than counting the number of foosball tables or arcade games they have in the break room. In short, it's time to grow up.

      GMD

  • by SeanTobin (138474) * <byrdhuntr@nOSpaM.hotmail.com> on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:40PM (#10865712)
    I'm pretty sure the submitter gets it, but doesn't want to admit it. Yes, there is a demand for qualified techies coming in on H1-B's. Yes, a good number of domestic techies are having hard times finding employment. However, these two items are not mutually exclusive.

    See, managers wised up. They found out that you can either hire a domestic techie for 50-80k/yr or hire an imported techie for 25-35k/yr. As an added bonus, the imported techie will be thankful for the opportunity he has, and do everything he can to appease the management that hired him.

    I'd _love_ to see a tariff on 'imported' labor. However, I'm not an economist.

    • by 1984 (56406) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:53PM (#10865906)
      Not quite that simple. If you're an H-1B you do have the nasty stick of "if we fire you you have to go home" but they can't pay you less than the going rate for a given job. Part of the application process is telling the Department of Labor the details of the job for which you're hiring, and they tell you the minimum you're allowed to pay for it. You then must pay the applicant what you already offered him, or what the DoL specified -- whichever is higher.

      Of course the system is gamed, but it's not as if there are no mechanisms to prevent sweatshop hiring.
      • And then they tell the guy who just moved from Bangalore that he has to work 60 hours a week and some additional weekends, or they'll find someone who can, and he can go back to Bangalore. Not knowing the details of the foreign system he moves to, feels under the gun enough to do as he is told... effectively reducing his cost to the company way below an American who might not put up with that.

        Why are IT jobs exempt anyway?

    • by orac2 (88688) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:54PM (#10865926)
      They found out that you can either hire a domestic techie for 50-80k/yr or hire an imported techie for 25-35k/yr.

      If that's happening, then you already have legal options without needing new legislation for tariff's on imported labor: H-1B's are, by law, supposed to be paid in line with US workers -- one of the hurdles in getting a H-1B is getting the state's department of labor to sign off that the wage level is kosher. Most of the stories you here about dramatically underpaid foreign H1-B's turn out to be urban legends.

      I was a H1-B for six years, and I was always paid in line with U.S. workers, both at my company and in the industry in general.
      • one of the hurdles in getting a H-1B is getting the state's department of labor to sign off that the wage level is kosher.

        Oh yeah, I'm sure the labor department is totally up on what the current wages are among, of all things, *tech* jobs. Riiiight.
    • by GillBates0 (664202) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:55PM (#10865939) Homepage Journal
      They found out that you can either hire a domestic techie for 50-80k/yr or hire an imported techie for 25-35k/yr.

      As noted in a footnote to the article), U.S. employers *must* pay foreign workers the prevailing wage for their job fields and show that qualified U.S. workers are not being passed over.

      In my experience the BCIS (formerly INS) has pretty stringent about these requirements and as a result companies end up paying H1 workers the *same* amount as they would pay a domestic worker. Please do the research or atleast RTFA.

      • As noted in a footnote to the article), U.S. employers *must* pay foreign workers the prevailing wage for their job fields and show that qualified U.S. workers are not being passed over.

        Yeah- but the H-1b is a new graduate when the US techie has 10 years of experience, therefore 25k-35k is the going wage for the experience and the business still saves money. And in my experience, getting the BCIS to actually investigate anything requires several months of 8-hour-a-day work researching and showing your ev
    • Saying H1b earns less is a lie. The REQUIREMENT of H1b is that you are paid the prevaling wage for your job. You are not allowed to legally hire someone for less. When you submit the application your application you must show what the rate for the job is and that you are paying the same. If you know anyone that is paying less, then they are breaking the law.
    • Don't forget the other added bonus- that you can threaten the techie with deportation in addition to being fired if he acts up.
    • See, managers wised up. They found out that you can either hire a domestic techie for 50-80k/yr or hire an imported techie for 25-35k/yr.

      It doesn't work that way. There are laws in place that forbid companies from hiring foreign workers at a lower wage than local force. Any company doing what you describe is breaking the law.

      Have you ever considered that some of us are just BETTER than locals for the job offered?

      • by Qzukk (229616) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:12PM (#10867065) Journal
        Have you considered that the companies lie and get away with it?

        The general practice is to lay off, say, "Senior Developer III" who made $80k/yr, and got the job by having 8 years experience with C. Then you close the position. You list a new position in your paper: "Junior Tech I", 8 years experience with C required, starting salary $35k. No takers? "See," you say to the Labor Dept. "We need immigrants to fill this job." So the Labor people look to see what you're paying other "Junior Tech I" people, and you don't have any others, you just made the position. So they look on their little charts to see how much they should make. "Hm, Tech, thats $50k starting. Junior -$10K. Entry Level I position, -$5K sounds about right".

        And this is how the company gets the Senior Developer III for $35K.

        If you don't believe it, see any of the other responses in this thread with cites for how Intel abuses it across the board, as well as other companies that have been caught abusing it.
  • Changes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by base_chakra (230686) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:42PM (#10865747)
    One change I've noticed is that XML and related technologies are getting bigger and bigger, and it's redefining what it means to be a web application developer. I feel like my skill set is being spread thinner than pâte.

    Other than that, it's the same old situation:

    1. Employers seeking ridiculously diverse skill sets. What do you want, a software developer with ten years experience, or a GIS specialist with database skills? Pick ONE!

    2. Employers requiring experience or expertise in obscure software, but who are unwilling to train. (We're smart; we can learn your industry-specific database front-end for god's sake!)

    3. Shops with a depressing preference for Microsoft and IBM languages and software. LAMP jobs and their ilk are comparitively scarce, and therefore highly competitive.

    4. HR people who don't know what they want/need. The other day someone posted a "need" for a C# developer with more than five years experience.

    So employers are feeling a crunch from the H1 issue. Fine, I'll take that underpaid position! Where is it? We've talked about this before, and I understand that employers are trying to thin the pool by posting stringent (or ideal) requirements, but I think it's getting out of hand and alienating worthy applicants in the process.

    As for the relocation bit, I don't buy it. I would welcome the change to relocate almost anywhere in the world for a decent job. I would appreciate a system that makes it easier for employers willing to hire from a remote job pool to find job seekers who are serious about relocating. Monster's [monster.com] system is just too limited.
    • Re:Changes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tgd (2822)
      <i>4. HR people who don't know what they want/need. The other day someone posted a "need" for a C# developer with more than five years experience.</i>

      You're assuming they meant they want five years of C# experience. Having been involved in a number of job listings, while its easy to poke fun at a listing like that, its accurate. They need a developer who knows C#. They need a developer with at least five years experience.

      As anyone on here probably knows, professional software development exper
  • No no no.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by GoMMiX (748510) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:42PM (#10865748)
    It's not that there aren't enough people to fill the IT jobs in the US - or that companies are even actually TRYING to fill those jobs with US Employees...

    What it IS, is that companies want to fill CURRENT US Jobs (Hear: YOUR job) with an H1 worker who will work for less pay...

    Want a better job? Quit, denounce your citizenship in the US, move to India - file for H1B visa and wait for the 2006 roundup. HA!

    Seriously, though - in a previous /. article it was noted that in 2003 (I beleive) there were less then 20,000 IT jobs created - yet 60,000 H1B workers were brought in? Now, lets see.... 60,000 - 20,000... 1+1 /2 *6 = ahh $#@% IT!
  • by Svartalf (2997) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:42PM (#10865754) Homepage
    There's some increase in hiring going about and I've been getting some cold-calls from recruiters again (seems to go on six month cycles- contracts and all...). All in all, though, times are still a little tough here in Dallas/Ft. Worth. It's been the worst downturn I've seen in the 2 decades I've been at working in the Tech industry.
  • by kevin_conaway (585204) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:43PM (#10865757) Homepage
    In the Washingtion D.C. metropolitan area, things are doing well. I received my job right out of college and know others who did the same. This area never really seems to be affected like the rest of the country. Jobs are especially plentiful if you have a clearance of some sort.

    Actually...everything I just said is a lie. There are no jobs in D.C. or Northern Virginia. Stay away.
    • by Wingchild (212447) <brian@wingchild.net> on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:53PM (#10865915) Homepage
      A friend of mine came back from an eight-month backpacking romp through Europe recently. While that sounds like a lot of fun (and is, if you have the time and money to spend on it), it's not the best move for your career when your career is in the ever-changing world of tech. Despite being a talented interface designer, she came back home to find that the software and methods she was using was no longer the standard - new techniques had been developed and better ways of managing content had presented themselves. Basically she came home to find the tech playing field had moved on without her, and was unable to find a job as nice as the one she left.

      Solution: retrain! She went out to some temp agencies and farmed her resume around, then taught herself Visio when a client requested it. She spent the last few weeks down in the District building contacts and making money while working on a Post Office project. If you want jobs, you can find jobs - just don't expect people to throw money into your lap as per the bubble-days of the 90s.

      For those not in the know, a security clearance is a pre-punched meal-ticket - and you don't have to be in DC or Virginia. If you're able to find work with someone who's willing to sponsor your security clearance process, and you've no particular qualms about working for The Man, take it. A Secret clearance will keep you employed anywhere in the nation. A Top Secret brings a higher salary and even more options to choose from, though laying hands on one is sometimes more a matter of fate than desire.
      • by Qzukk (229616)
        If you're able to find work with someone who's willing to sponsor your security clearance process

        And theres the BIG IF. I found a lot of jobs where the HR would have been happy to have me, but they needed someone who could get to work right away and not sit around for 6 months pushing unimportant papers around.

        Since you can't get a clearance by yourself (why not?), you're pretty much at the mercy of the BIG IF. And trust me, if anyone shows up with the needed clearance, unless you're super wonder dog A
  • by sakusha (441986) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:44PM (#10865772)
    Yes, there is always a severe shortage of people who will work for substandard wages, locked into contract work with no prospect for advancement. Like H1B visa workers.
  • here in Seattle... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deviator (92787) <bdp@PARISamnesia.org minus city> on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#10865781) Homepage
    I posted an ad for a help desk position for my small company on craigslist.

    I received sixty resumes in four days. And probably 20% were well-to-over-qualified.
  • by brufleth (534234) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#10865782)
    I graduated last May from Boston University with a BS in EE and was one of the few "lucky ones" in my group of friends who was able to find a job...in Cincinnati. So I up and moved to Cincinnati and took this "great job."

    Now I'll only comment quickly that the job is mediocre on a good day and Cincinnati blows. The mid-west it seems is teaming with tech jobs though. That doesn't mean I'll stay here but apparently there are co-op jobs a plenty out here that go un filled while I spent last summer mowing lawns for lack of a co-op position.

    From my experience techs jobs are mostly only available in certain areas which are cheaper to operate a business in. People my age don't want to move to the mid west though (I'm moving back [someone give me a job in the Boston area]) and older people have already put down roots somewhere else.

    • I've commented elsewhere down this tree, but just to say I share your pain. Spent 18 mo. in Cinti and hated just about all of it. Downtown is frightening, Vine just scares me, Clifton was nice though.

      To make the best of a shit place, I would recommend:

      Ambar Indian Curry house in Clifton. Simply the best Indian I've ever had, and that includes from my home country of Britain. Chicken Tikka Massala to die for.

      The Comet Pub, somewhere in the west of Cinti. Excellent Bluegrass, and they have Newcastle Brown
  • Not looking (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gr8_phk (621180) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#10865783)
    AFAIK most people are not really looking for jobs because they think there aren't any out there. This would lead companies to think there is a short supply of people. If you'd like to jump ship, get looking for something else - don't listen to what people think the situation is. After you're gone, your previous employer will be looking for your replacement. To some extent, the job market is what people perceive it to be.
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#10865784)
    I've worked for a healthcare organization for the last eight years and salaries and hiring do seem to be going up. There's a huge demand for electronic systems in healthcare, so that's at least one IT market that's doing well.

    The tricky part is hiring well qualified individuals, which seem harder to pick up these days. I'd recommend the field for anyone looking for a job. Healthcare organizations are pretty stable during economic downturns (people still get sick) and you get to feel like you're making a real difference in people's lives.
  • by StacyWebb (780561) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#10865790) Homepage
    Back in the 90's eveyone was hearing on the news and from campuses that the best (read as: highest paying) jobs were in the computer sector. They flooded the market. Now over the past 3-5 years the new students have been hearing "don't go into that people are losing their jobs to overseas" so they choose a different field. Thus eventually creating a need for more workers. So in turn when the salaries increase again and the overall need for workers increase once again there will be a surplus of workers and not enough jobs. Hopefully the students in the colleges now are in their fields because they want to do it and not because it will make them 100K a year after graduation. This way you get the person who loves what they do.
  • New Vistas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by techsoldaten (309296) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:49PM (#10865848) Journal
    Back in the 1970's, there was a big push towards automated coding. The idea was machines would be given a set of parameters and write their own applications, thus killing the demand for skilled technical workers throughout the United States. Fear and hysteria reigned, and I know a lot of people who left technology careers as a result.

    Fast forward to 1997, when I was graduating college. For years I had worked as an intern / volunteer / gopher in various computer labs and become familiar with the major issues in computer science. For one thing, information technology jobs had not gone away, they had just changed to the point where they no longer looked like they did when I was a kid. On the other hand, some of the scientific coders were having to learn how to code HTML and produce graphics, which was really a strange thing to ask them to do based on their last 20 years of experience.

    IT doesn't go away, it intensifies, and so to do IT professionals. My company, www.trellon.com, is almost unable to find qualified people to work on our projects. This is not because their is such high demand for workers we cannot compete, this is because it is tough to find professionals with the right mix of technology and other disciplines in their background. For every 20 people I meet, 16 of them get disqualified based on a lack of subject matter expertise outside of coding. (3 of the rest turn out to be exaggerating on their resume, and the 1 truly qualified applicant seems to always have some issue that keeps us from wanting to make him an offer).

    I guess what I see is that there is still demand in IT, sometimes it just doesn't look like the work you used to do. GIS is big right now, I still get calls from recruiters offering insane salaries. OSS programmers are big right now, lots of people are looking for data warehousing solutions that do not depend on Oracle and SQL Server. Flash is big right now, and I regularly receive RFPs for companies willing to build RIAs.

    Threads like this irk me a little bit because it always looks like people are waiting too long to ask the right questions. There should be some place where people can just ask what technology is in big demand and hook up with the resources to learn so they can provide a more valuable service. But fretting about the state of the IT industry is like worrying about automated coding back in the 70s - it's here right now, but all we know about IT is that innovation is forever.

    M
    • Re:New Vistas (Score:4, Insightful)

      by xenocide2 (231786) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:09PM (#10866130) Homepage
      Perhaps my personal situation adds a large bias, but it irks me that everyone's bemoaning the lack of qualified professionals. There's nobody with enough linux experience in the workplace, they say. There's not enough people with real experience in embedded systems who want to live in the midwet, they say.

      Well, suck it up. If you can't find talent or experience, its because your company hasn't been promoting it from within. Anyone with more than five years experience with GIS likely owns their own business, competing with yours. Face it, the perfect candidate already has your software written for you. Five years ago, linux was a joke. Insurance agencies weren't about to deploy 2.4.2 on their mainframes.

      Maybe companies should focus on training and employee development rather than let a position go unfilled for lack of candidates with 3+ years exp?
  • by coupland (160334) * <dchase@@@hotmail...com> on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:55PM (#10865929) Journal

    > "So, what is it? Are we in another boom"

    You're not in a boom, or in a bust. You're in a plutocracy. [m-w.com] So Americans lose jobs and companies hire foreigners for less money to help pay for those multi-million-dollar executive bonuses. You realize your annual salary is probably a fraction of what your CEO's office furniture is worth, don't you? In the grand scheme of things, your worth (my worth) is slightly below that of a desk and chair. Welcome to the new economy.

    • by Lumpy (12016)
      You realize your annual salary is probably a fraction of what your CEO's office furniture is worth, don't you?

      Our Director of sales is sitting at a desk that cost the company $120,000.00.. His chair cost more than every regular employee's car in the parking lot at $45,000.00 ...

      And then management wonders why the workers have no respect for them.....

      Maybe they need to form a focus group to study it.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday November 19, 2004 @01:58PM (#10865966)
    > OK. On the one hand, we have stories of techies not finding jobs; and on the other, we have stories from businesses which claim that lack of H1s is killing their business,

    Pretty consistent. There may be an oversupply of techies in the economy at large, but the H-1B supply is not constant, regardless of demand.

    US immigration law "caps" H-1B immigration at a set number. During the boom, it was once 65,000 - high demand and low supply meant that employers couldn't hire enough people, and they bri^H^H^Hpetitioned Congress for a law that would raise the cap. That law said that in 2000, it was to be 115,000, and in 2001-2-3, it was to be 195,000.

    As you can see, any time a politician attempts to choose a number for supply and demand and slam it into the market with the fist of legislation, he'll fuck it up, which is precisely what happened. The H-1B cap kept going up, long after the economic bubble that actually made these new employees useful had burst.

    So what's the situation now? Well, just like in the last paragraph -- when politicians attempt to legislate the economy, they invariably fuck it up. The law that was passed to increase the cap came with an expiry date. So what happens - after the cap goes up to 195,000 during the recession? Why, it's Fiscal Year 2004 (starting on October 1, 2003)... and now that the economy's picking up, and demand is growing we... well, there's increased demand so let's... let the law expire and cut the H-1B quota from 195,000 back to 65,000! Cut the supply by 2/3! Yay!

    And we wonder why our economy's fucked up?

    Because even the most cynical of us would never believe our government would be this stupid, a link [wfu.edu].

    If you think that's fucking retarded, remember that this is the INS (now BCIS) we're talking about. These are the same folks that, approved the 9/11 hijackers their flight school visas SIX MONTHS AFTER THE ATTACK. [dailyherald.com]

    So in the grand scheme of things, the H-1B cap manipulations that seem to be legislatively timed for maximum negative economic effect, are pretty small potatoes.

  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:02PM (#10866024) Homepage
    You don't have to be in the tech industry to have a cool tech job. Manufacturing companies, in particular, always need good IT staff. Security is becoming more and more high-profile, as is better ways of managing software on end user pc's. Computer networking is also a great way to work for a large (think international) company, especially with 'new' technologies like IPSec VPNs.

    In my job, I get to do all kinds of different things, so it never gets boring. And I don't have to deal with stuff I don't like (managing windows computers). I get to write code, manage certain hardware/software, consult on networking, set policies, create solutions with open source products, etc. FWIW, I am a network security analyst.

  • Market -speak (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rlauzon (770025) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:03PM (#10866031)
    Keep in mind that when companies whine about "not being able to find enough tech people", they are only telling you 1/2 the story.

    What they are really saying is that "We can't find enough tech people willing to work at the wage we want to pay them (usually low) with the benefits that we want to give them (usually poor) in the location that we want to employ them (usually low rent for the company, but high rent for the employee - unless he likes commuting an hour one way)."
  • by ToasterTester (95180) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:06PM (#10866091)
    From my viewpoint jobs are few and salaries are dropping. Where I'm at now is trying to centralize SysAdmin work to Ohio to save on salaries, and layoff SA's in the data centers around the country. The positions they are replacing SA's with is a combo desktop/server support tech. In other words just eyes and hands to do reboots if necessary. Even server builds are being centralized and a traveling install teams to do the racking and cabling. My company isn't the only one I hear trying to work this way. The last place I worked did a similar move, they left SA's in the data centers and let go all SA in remote sites. Desktop support were the eyes and hands in remote sites.

    So if your job doesn't end up going overseas, they may just centrallize it to a city with a low cost of living and just have generic techs in all other sites.
  • by Coward Anonymous (110649) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:12PM (#10866165)
    It doesn't make a difference if people are having a hard time finding jobs. It is still in the interest of employers to scream and kick and scratch for more H1B visas so that they can increase the labor pool, increase demand for jobs and thus decrease the salary they need to pay to their employees.
    By that measure H1Bs will always be short.
  • Just sell the Visas (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cfulmer (3166) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:13PM (#10866178) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that the solution is pretty easy: Instead of just giving a whole block of visas away once a month, auction off 1/12th of them every month. And, make the visas tradeable.

    This would solve several problems with the current system:
    (1) The current "First to the trough" assignment method would disappear. Instead, it would be replaced by a "highest value user" method. Companies that truly need some foreign worker b/c there is no American who can do the job will be able to fill those positions. But, companies that are just trying to low-ball their development costs probably won't.
    (2) THe disparity between domestic labor and imported foreign labor would shrink, due to the increased cost of the foreign labor.
    (3) Helps pay off the budget deficit.
  • My experiences (Score:5, Insightful)

    by faust2097 (137829) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:14PM (#10866191)
    At least in the Bay Area it seems like a lot of places are hiring now. Everyone I know that's actually good at their job is employed and most of their companies are hiring. It's hard to get a job but except for a couple years in the late '90s it's always been hard. The industry is competitive and you need some way to stand out. I spent a long time trying to package myself as a jack of all trades as far as design goes and got very little interest. If you think the programming market is flooded with unqualified people you have no idea, in 2002 I spoke with a recruiter who was getting 1200+ resumes for every design position she posted. It was only when I focused my resume and portfolio on exactly what I wanted to do that I got the job I wanted.

    The times of being able to post "OH HAY GUYS I CODE AND STUFF" on craigslist and having recruiters trying to beat your door down so you could make 90k to write text parsing code were a fluke.
  • H1B needs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by enjo13 (444114) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:15PM (#10866204) Homepage
    I work at a company that IS in fact in dire need of H1B workers. We are a Symbian company, a fairly well known one at that. However, finding an American with Symbian experience AND the fairly heavy C++ skills we demand is rare at best. We've been in touch with several engineers overseas (primarily in Europe), bu t we're finding that it's extremely difficult to get them into the country.

    This isn't a case where we want to outsource jobs, and I can promise you that what we're paying our foreign workers is FAR above our regional average. We simply have a problem finding the relevant experience we need, it's that simple.
  • by gorbachev (512743) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:15PM (#10866214) Homepage
    I've been helping on hiring at two different companies during the past 20 months or so. I do the tech screens.

    The sad fact is that there just isn't that many good candidates out there. In the first company especially - they were located in a not-so-desirable geographical area - we could not find good candidates, who were permanent residents or US citizens, at all. We had a bunch of really great H1-B candidates, but due to all kinds of hassles related to hiring H1-Bs we couldn't hire but one of them (there were half a dozen positions open). This REALLY hurt the company.

    I see the same situation in my current job, though I suspect since we're located in a little bit of a better geographical area, we're seeing a few more qualified candidates who are permanent residents or US citizens. However, once again, the best candidates were H1-B visa holders, and we couldn't hire them either. This delayed hiring a new developer by about 6 months.

    I'm not sure what the problem is, but there just doesn't appear to be enough GOOD candidates out there.
  • PhD baby (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grungebox (578982) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:20PM (#10866291) Homepage
    Can't find a job? Go to grad school. Get paid around $20k (30 with an NSF fellowship, although your chances of getting one are around 1 in 11), work your ass off, get fed up with your far superior peers and then get a job as an assistant professor who has to slave for 10 years before they get tenured! Woohoo! After all, for every Dilbert [dilbert.com] there's someone that's Piled High and Deep [phdcomics.com].

    What you can do, seriously, is just attend grad school and look for a job while you're there. You have financial security if you're enrolled in a PhD program that pays you (like most sciences), and your resume looks better with the "Master's expected June 2006" at the top. You can always quit (even if your department will hate you) when you find a job.
  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:37PM (#10866559) Homepage
    What the tech companies are saying is that there is a shortage of programmers with 10 years experience in Java, 10 years experience in e-Commerce, and 10 years experience is Oracle willing to work for $25K a year.

  • by amightywind (691887) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:41PM (#10866630) Journal

    The market is definitely firming as compared to the Iraq War period when the market was non-existent. But companies (like mine) are addicted to programmers in India. So hiring will be slow. One of our "senior programmers" has said "we have hired that special 1 in 100 person in the past. Now we want to hire that 1 in 1000 and surround him by willing learners." Person for person they are nowhere near as productive as Americans, yet, but they are still paid proportionately even less. I have to think that even in India the number of adequately trained programmers in not inexhaustable. Management likes them because they can be treated like a commodity, which they can understand.

    I think the H1B program should be suspendended for tech in the US when unemployment levels rise to a structural level, say 5%. That did not happen in this tech cycle and there is still a massive excess of labor.

  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:51PM (#10866791) Homepage
    You know the catch-22 when getting a job:

    "Sorry kid, you don't have the experience to do this job."

    "But how do I get experience if you don't hire me?"

    For the past 4 years almost every sector has lost jobs, including tech. The job market seems less stingy than before, but for four years, many people haven't even been getting experience, so how can you hire experienced people?

    The tech sector seems pretty stupid to me with regards to handling "experience". In manufacturing, you were hired at a plant because you were eager, hard working, and listened to the boss. You got experience while actually working, and people were in it for the long haul. The tech sector expects you to have 10 years experience in 3 year old technologies. I've also seen few decent training programs designed to hire promising college grads and mold them into the type of worker a company wants. Many of those programs died with the bubble, but they need to come back!!

    I've seen several posts on this thread talk about "I can't find good qualified workers" but how many of those posters belong to a company who actually tries to bring in new hirees at the entry level and make their own qualified workers? Or do they just expect to fall off the tree that way?
  • Silicon Valley Jobs (Score:5, Informative)

    by fupeg (653970) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:56PM (#10866861)
    Here's how things have changed over the past couple of years, at least for one Silicon Valley company that I used to work for...
    Two years ago, the company laid off a few programmers, then six months later, gave everyone a 7% paycut so that they didn't have to lay off more programmers. People took the paycuts in stride.
    A year ago, many of the people who took paycuts, left the company. The company hired people to replace them. Lots of qualified candidates applied for the open positions, but the company actually had to pay the new people more than the people who had left the company. It took about two weeks to fill the positions.
    This past year, the company saw a huge upswing in business and needed to hire more people. The were two hiring phases, one in the spring and one in the fall. In the spring, there were lots of candidates again, but few qualified ones. The ones that were hired demanded a salary that was ~10% greater than people hired for the same position a year before. It took about six weeks to fill the positions. In the fall hiring, there were far fewer candidates and very few qualified ones. Salaries were still about 10% higher than the previous year. Not all positions have been filled after eight weeks.
  • by tommasz (36259) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:59PM (#10866889)
    Except for some minor exceptions, the overall job outlook (tech jobs included) in upstate NY isn't good. Locally (Rochester) the unemployment rate has officially gone below 5%, but that has to be taken in light of significantly fewer jobs and an overall declining population. The number of people who've simply given up is not known, of course.

    My company, one of the major local employers, is slowly abandoning engineering and manufacturing for a strategy of purchased products and service offerings. The number of engineering openings in the company these days is roughly about 1/10 of the total. The rest are sales and marketing, particularly for acquired products.
  • by Stegano (815698) on Friday November 19, 2004 @02:59PM (#10866899)
    Goverment wants more tax, corporations want cheaper labor. Government wants non-refundable social security tax, corporations want disposable labor that can work long hours on the same cheap pay. Let me explain what I think is going on here, I have been a H1 visa holder for 5 years now, so there is some credibility to this. And to put it mildy H1-B visas are a legal documents for indentured servitude, a modern day legalized slavery. Slavery by Govt and Corporations. As far as tax is concerned Govt makes more money on H1-B visa holders than on GC or US Citizens. Let me explain how, 2 persons earning 45K each pay more tax (approx >= 15%) than a single person earning 90K (which is what you usually get by the time you get your Green Card(GC) or if citizen with 3-4 years of experience). Plus for citizen of China and India, they cannot claim their social security tax after their 6 year H1-B period ends and they are asked to leave USA (if GC has not been acquired by then). From the corporate perspective it is easier to control and pay cheap alien workers than it is to deal with GC and citizens. Plus most alien workers due the fear, of H1 cancellation at the whim of the employer, are always genuflecting, bending over and working long hours. Corporates want more control over their work force and they get it through H1, because for H1 holders changing permanent jobs is tougher compared to GC and citizens. A case in point is George Bush's latest move to legalize illegal mexican by granting them a three year (H1-B) work permit, now this H1 quota is separate from the current 65000. The aim is to put the employer in the driver seat and tax these mexicans. And I can vouch that for the majority of the cases US citizens are smart and efficient software developer then H1-B counter parts. These kinds (citizens) might be less in number but I sincerely doubt that. H1-B guys are mostly hard workers but not neccessarily smart and efficient, most of them including me tend to gain software knowledge through job pressures. So why are H1-B guys here in the first place. Well Duh!!! its the Benjamins, the value of US dollor. It won't be an exaggeration if I said that more than 80% of the current H1-B lot will go back their home countries if they get paid 60% of what they are paid here.
  • Drive a trash truck. (Score:4, Informative)

    by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Friday November 19, 2004 @08:20PM (#10870995)
    When I realized that technology just ain't working out for me over here, I got into a completely different business... Garbage truck driving.

    Yeah, you can laugh all you want. But being a union worker, I get paid more money than I did working on a computer, and the benefits are all there. Yeah, it smells kind of bad and shit, but who cares. It's easy money. Then, I go home and work out my complex investing problems using Mathematica and I make more money by investing in all kinds of instruments. It works pretty well.

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