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How Will Recent Financial Downturns Affect IT Jobs? 372

Posted by timothy
from the queue-management-gets-new-significance dept.
An anonymous reader writes "So, with the financial crisis and loss of jobs everywhere, what are the chances of getting a good IT job? I'm going to graduate this year with a BS in Software Engineering majoring in Network Security. I'll be looking for a job as a penetration tester eventually, but I hear that is hard to get right out of college so I'll be looking for a job as a Junior Network Admin or similar type of job to start off in. Is there a lack of jobs in this field? I figure computers always need fixing so they have to have some sort of IT personnel on staff to maintain the core of their business. Anyone have a good insight on this issue?"
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How Will Recent Financial Downturns Affect IT Jobs?

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  • by alain94040 (785132) * on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:30PM (#26409935) Homepage

    I was a new grad once. It was horrible: it took me 10 months to find my first job.

    I'm sorry to have to be the one to break the bad news to you, but your grades in school don't matter anymore. What recruiters look at is your experience. Which, by definition, you don't have. So your resume ends up at the bottom of the pile.

    As soon as you have some kind of job, then companies are much more willing to take you seriously. It's stupid but it's true. I make the same mistake now when I am the one hiring.

    Now I'm happy to also give you some good news. You're probably not graduating until the summer. That's great. First of all, the economy will be just about to turn around (the media won't tell you, but they also didn't tell you one year ago that we were in a recession). Second, it gives you some time to add experience to your resume: internships matter a lot, volunteer for an open source project, etc.

    Don't have the time? You really have two options: play by university rules and be a bland student, or stand out and go the extra mile. Guess which ones gets the job?

    --
    FairSoftware.net [fairsoftware.net] -- the community where software developers start fair businesses

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. The best time to get experience is while you're in school. If you have none when you graduate you'll have a BS and an internship earning very little. Even if you have to stay in school another semester consider getting a good internship (perhaps full-time) to get some experience under your belt. If your resume shows a full-time internship, it will definitely stand out amongst the others who had a part-time one.

      • Currently in my 5 year of school. I've been a full-time network administrator at the University where I have for 2 1/2 years and was a part time support tech before that for a year (you have to start low even if you have the skills needed). In the end, as soon as you get the first job, the rest will fall into place. Try to find one that you can stay with for a Year. Even if it pays dirt you will have show that you can maintain a job long enough. Don't expect to make 60K on you first job unless you have cer
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:35PM (#26409977)

      internship internship internship.
      take a 3 month - 1 year break and do an internship. with a big corp. sometimes you get hired direct from the internship.

    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:39PM (#26410011)
      In my last job I, and about 5 others, spent a lot of our time selecting new grads. Of the six of us, only one looked at grades much. We all realised that universities and grades are very contrived and are not good indicators of how people will perform in the real world.

      Get involved in some open source project, not just as a peripheral person but **really** get engaged and make a very useful contribution. Show that you can word with others, solve problems (the fun technical stuff), help finish off documentation (shows you can also do the boring stuff that is important) and get some references from the project leads.

      What most employers really look for is the "bushy tail factor": people who are flexible, practical and can learn new stuff fast.

      • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:09PM (#26410285) Homepage Journal
        The last time I was in a team leader position I hired an intern. He turned out to be a great worker, unusually good unix skills and very self motivated. We don't do much selection for interns. Its just a matter of sitting down with the other managers and sifting through resumes.

        Later I wondered why I had selected this person and realised that he had the worst formatted resume of the lot. This guy can't format a word document. He is a terrible typist. In fact he didn't seem to care how it looked.

        But where the other applicants put four types of windows then "linux". He put four types of BSD, then linux then "windows". That may have been a factor for me but the lack of interest in presentation played a part as well.
        • "Wow! This place must be hot. They don't need a big ad, or even correct spelling."

          (just to point out that caring only minimally for ones resume needn't mean that they're good enough to not need to care. It could be genuine incompetence)

        • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @08:08PM (#26411319)

          Later I wondered why I had selected this person and realised that he had the worst formatted resume of the lot. This guy can't format a word document. He is a terrible typist. In fact he didn't seem to care how it looked.

          I hope you aren't relying on this hire to manage your backups or do anything else that you deem critical. If his attention to detail is that lax on something that is presumably important to him, imagine how lax it'll be on something that's important to you.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by blhack (921171)

            I hope you aren't relying on this hire to manage your backups or do anything else that you deem critical. If his attention to detail is that lax on something that is presumably important to him, imagine how lax it'll be on something that's important to you.

            I imagine that you're a windows guy...

            Find a good BSD hacker and look around his house. It is probably disgusting. Really, REALLY disgusting. Empty bottles of gin and exotic Belgian beer laying all over the place. Random parts from servers built in the 80's strewn about the bedroom/office/machine room. A shower that never gets used, etc. etc. etc.

            Now look around "inside" one of their machines. I imagine that you will find the computer-equivalent of a germaphobic neat-freak.

            They types of people that en

      • by jez9999 (618189) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:27PM (#26410419) Homepage Journal

        Show that you can word with others

        Word.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          So when can you start?

    • by Swizec (978239) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:39PM (#26410017) Homepage
      I've always found it incredibly stupid for a person to just go to school without doing anything on the side. First time I started working on projects on the side was in first year of high school when I played around with phpBB and later on started working on some of my own stuff. Of course during the summers I've had programming related jobs all through high school, makes sense really since there's heaps of empty time.

      During last year of high school I also started working lightly during regular school months and it's really paid off. Two years into college now and I've already got a few years of real-world experience under my belt. When I get out of college ... whenever that happens ... I'll be far from an empty slate and it thus shouldn't be too difficult getting a job. If all else fails I can just continue working for the people I'm already working for since we seem to be getting along well.

      Seriously, any still-schooling people otu there reading this. GET A FUCKING JOB because grades DO NOT MATTER!
      • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:26PM (#26410395) Homepage Journal

        Seriously, any still-schooling people otu there reading this. GET A FUCKING JOB because grades DO NOT MATTER!

        I can second that. I'm older than most of you here, and have up through my life held a variety of jobs -- for the last couple of decades mostly in the Unix/networking areas. And I have never been asked for my grades. Not once. Not when fresh out of school, and not later.

        Experience, flexibility (bendability, really -- in many cases the ability to grab your ankles is considered a plus, but I digress...), experience, problem solving skills, experience, likability, and, did I mention experience?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Gregg Alan (8487)

          Problem solving skills is HUGE. Of course, the only way to have a chance at proving you have problem solving skills is through your experience.

          I cringe when my coworkers' first thought is to call tech support.

      • Well... really it depends on who you want to get a job from. Major IT companies ask for your GPA on your resume and will Filter using that. Heck Google won't hire without it listed. For everyone else, the paper degree is all they care for and HR depts only look if you meet the minimum requirements.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MrCrassic (994046)
        In my school, we have a cooperative education program that caters all engineering majors and some science majors. One thing to consider is that experience is not only invaluable for the computer engineering/science/IT student, but it's relatively easy to get. It wasn't uncommon to hear of science students here having trouble finding co-op jobs, let alone ones that are worthwhile...

        I thought that grades mattered MUCH more in any job pertaining to the "hard" sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, math..)?
        • by Swizec (978239) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @08:14PM (#26411387) Homepage
          Grades only matter if you want to work in academia (be a real scientist). Otherwise grades are only spice on top of your education. Not the other way around.

          Academia jobs, I believe, prefer people without experience because they aren't yet spoiled by the real world, just as corporations and such prefer people with as much experience as possible because they've "forgotten the useless crap from school".

          So really, depends on what you want to do, but working in the real world both pays better and is, to me, more gratifying since you see your creations put to work instead of just being peer-reviewed and if you're lucky at one point adopted by a real-world guy.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            "Academia jobs, I believe, prefer people without experience because they aren't yet spoiled by the real world"

            Academic jobs where you develop software tend to cap out at about half of what you should be able to get in the private sector.

            That alone will give you some job security and there are some benefits to consider besides cash compensation. My academic job was fun, but paid under $50K. The reason I stayed was for tuition reimbursement (to the tune of almost $20K per *semester* for my spouse's professi

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ClosedSource (238333)

        Well, there are exceptions. I interviewed for a job a few years ago at SAIC and they asked for my college GPA back from 1981!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is the absolute truth. I've been a hiring manager for almost two decades now. The most important question I'll ask you is what you've done as personal projects in the area of computer science. This is our career, right? This is our passion, right? Obviously, we have done stuff out of curiosity, opportunity, and/or need for entertainment. Right?

        Sadly, so many people fail that question. At this point, I absolutely refuse to hire anyone that hasn't done a thing outside the academic setting. They a

      • by GlL (618007) <gil@noSPaM.net-venture.com> on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:26AM (#26413987)

        OK, let's talk turkey. What you know enables you to do the job. Who you know enables you to get the job.
        My usual strategy when I am not working is to volunteer at a non-profit organization. Go the extra mile and help with fundraisers and do those things nobody else wants to do. This gets you noticed by the board, and those folks are usually decision makers or influential people in the business world.
        You can also do a stint in Americorps. This helps you pay back some of those loans and helps you make contacts.

        Every job I got was because of who I knew, and not what I knew.
        Start networking now, actually you should have started networking two years ago, but it is not too late.
        Colleges teach you to know stuff, but unless you know people you are up the creek.

        Good luck from a Masters student in the middle of changing careers. (Don't pass up opportunities that are not directly in your field if you think you might enjoy them.)

      • for a person to work while they were in school.

        Bar need (I come from a country where University education is almost free) if you are a student your work should be to study. Anything else is an unwanted distraction.

        Once you have graduated you will have plenty of time to start from the bottom, but you will have learned all the tools that you need to have a successful career.

        Plenty of friends that thought were advancing their prospects by doing menial IT work eventually could not complete their education (work

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DoofusOfDeath (636671)

      Don't have the time? You really have two options: play by university rules and be a bland student, or stand out and go the extra mile. Guess which ones gets the job?

      I think it depends on your career aspirations. GPA matters quite a bit for some internships, and is very important for getting into a good graduate program.

      Which means that indirectly, GPA can matter quite a bit for getting your first job, as you yourself said that internships matter. If you had two otherwise equal candidates just out of schoo

    • by glitch23 (557124)

      Now I'm happy to also give you some good news. You're probably not graduating until the summer. That's great. First of all, the economy will be just about to turn around (the media won't tell you, but they also didn't tell you one year ago that we were in a recession).

      The government has to be the entity that says we are in a recession after 2 consecutive quarters of economic shrinkage. There is nothing for the media to report if the gov't economists don't say anything. There is still the issue of why it took so long for them to say something though but it wasn't the media's fault in my opinion.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jalefkowit (101585)

        The government has to be the entity that says we are in a recession after 2 consecutive quarters of economic shrinkage. There is nothing for the media to report if the gov't economists don't say anything.

        Actually the group that makes that call is the National Bureau of Economic Research [nber.org], a private think-tank. It's not related to any government agency.

    • by linhares (1241614) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:01PM (#26410193)
      You don't have any experience only if you don't want to. You can code for the iPhone and Android and facebook and opensocial and adobe air, all of which are hot markets. As some habitats contract, other expand.
      • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:34PM (#26410455) Homepage Journal

        Unless you have had an employer who works in those fields, your experience will be considered "hobby" and won't count for much, if anything. Every other applicant claims that they run linux servers and advanced networking at home, and have done so for a long time, but very few of them tell the truth. Some claim to have done so for an employer, but won't state references. An interviewer will generally disregard claims like these, unless they can be backed up.

        And yes, these days, interviewers /will/ call your references and check. Saying that you were responsible for X or contributed to Y if you weren't will be a bad move. If it just can't be verified, it's likely a waste of good CV paper.

        To recap, experience will in most cases mean having been employed for doing, and with references to back this up.

        • by ucblockhead (63650) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:38PM (#26411039) Homepage Journal

          That is not true. Speaking as someone who ran a search for employees, I can say categorically that "hobby" work that was interesting, and could be described to an adequate level of detail, directly counted for a couple of people we hired. In one case it was work that wasn't on the resume because "it was just a hobby".

          As an interviewer, I certainly expect claims to be "backed up", but this means that the interviewee can talk in great detail about what exactly they did, not that they have it attached to a job. I've seen far too many resumes that said something like "developed network protocol using C" only to have it turn out that the guy worked on a team of fifty that did that, and all that he actually did himself was read the docs for ten minutes.

          In my mind, hobbies count double, because if someone is doing technical work in their spare time, it shows a deeper interest in technology than someone who does things only for pay.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Unless you have had an employer who works in those fields, your experience will be considered "hobby" and won't count for much, if anything. Every other applicant claims that they run linux servers and advanced networking at home, and have done so for a long time, but very few of them tell the truth.

          Writing an app that has sold/is selling on a popular online store is much more than saying you run linux at home. While it may be a hobby, it is real verifiable experience.

          And yes, these days, interviewers /wil

          • by SageMusings (463344) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @09:03PM (#26411837) Journal

            They will call and all that will be said is that yes you worked there. Short of getting fired and charged with a crime a previous employer will say very little during a reference check.

            Believe it! This is policy where I work. The issue is the organization could be liable for causing an applicant to not get the position they were seeking. In other words, we would probably get sued for saying Bob* was a shitty dev. We will only verify past employment.

            * My apologies to anyone named Bob or Robert.

      • Depends entirely on who's hiring.

        If you're dealing with standard HR drones, you have quite nice "hobbies" but that's where they'll put that info. What's Android? Some sort of computer game? We don't do games here, we do serious things with COMputERS. And you're slacking off on facebook and other internet stuff, eh? Next!

        Know who's hiring before you add something like this to your resume. It can be a benefit but it can also be a curse.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      Not only experience, but experience with specific products. If a company uses, say, Cisco PIX firewalls, and one applicant has a bachelor's degree, CCNP and 5 years of networking experience, but none with PIX, and the other has an associate's degree, CCNA, and 3 years of PIX experience, my bet would be on the latter getting the job. Experience with the exact Cisco IOS level that the company currently uses would be even better.

      Speaking of CCNA, CCNP and CCISP, these certifications are not just a good idea,

      • Experience with the exact Cisco IOS level that the company currently uses would be even better.

        To a degree, but if you think the HR drone is going to have any idea what version of Cisco IOS you're using, you're laughing. Even if you tell him, I'd still place even money on it never being considered.

      • by pyite (140350) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:11PM (#26410803)

        Speaking of CCNA, CCNP and CCISP, these certifications are not just a good idea, for some companies they are a must to even be considered.

        Their value is marginal at best. I would never want to work at a place which demands the certification, because it shows they don't know what makes a good engineer.

    • by kaiidth (104315) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:03PM (#26410225)

      I'm going to have to third/fourth/fifth (depending on comment lag) the 'Get a job whilst you're still in school, experience counts' viewpoint. It really does help. And if you find yourself jobless even temporarily, make sure you do something with the time. Ideally, that would be the internship that has been mentioned here, but sometimes it'll have to be even less formal than that - this is where networking comes in. Unpaid/very minimally paid work on something isn't as great a CV bullet as an actual job but it is a lot easier to come by. Any connections that you have may come in useful; any college professors/researchers you might know from your university career may be able to provide you with something, although they're less likely to be able to pay you.

      Open source code may arguably count in this, but it's very dependent on what the project is. If I'm hiring I generally look for something that I can find, download and see working. If, like so many projects, it turns out to be an itch that got scratched and then immediately placed on line with no testing or docs, I'd be impressed that it was placed online at all but wouldn't rank it very highly as experience. If on the other hand I can see evidence of what you did during your work on the project I might rank it somewhat higher, assuming HR ever let me see the CV (they have their own viewpoint on what 'experience' means).

      I know this sounds obvious but it's very important to actually get around to applying, to do a little research before the interview, and to turn up to job interviews when the date has been agreed. Last hiring session I went on, only half of the people I invited for interview turned up. One of those who didn't emailed and apologised, so I sent him another interview date that he failed to meet either, which was facepalm-worthy and rather sad... two of those that I did interview hadn't bothered to look up the software packages mentioned by name in the original advert. And that was in the midst of the credit crunch.

      Good luck to the OP and to all in their position, and if you do end up medium to long-term unemployed my advice to you is to keep busy and make sure you keep using your skills and abilities, find something you want to work on - I went back to studying when jobless after the dot-com boom, and one friend of mine wrote a book whilst unemployed! Also, get out of the house on a regular basis, even if it's only to yoga class or something. Unemployment is a nasty state if you let it get you down and is very likely to leave you feeling depressed and worthless (for no good reason - unemployment can happen to anybody), so keep your eyes open for that and find strategies to keep your spirits up.

      • by TakeyMcTaker (963277) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @08:23PM (#26411465)

        I agree with the parent and almost all preceding comments above +3, but I feel the need to clarify a little bit.

        Currently, the merits of higher education in the job field are:

        1. Job listings often specify a particular degree as a MINIMUM requirement. So you got that one.

        2. Completing a degree proves that:
        a. You can fool someone into accepting you into their program based on High School merits, which are universally flimsy.

        b. You can make about 80% of your contrived deadlines, or more.

        c. You took a test on relevant subject matter at some point, so interviewing you shouldn't be a complete waste of time.

        d. Despite dealing with all the complex life questions that come about when leaving home for more than a couple of months, you managed to get something done, or at least fool your professors to their satisfaction.

        e. You got over fending for yourself. Your new employers don't have to act as if they're your new parents.

        3. Job experience you managed to pick up while paying your expenses. Hopefully by now your new employers don't have to show you how to fill out an employment eligibility form, or handle a checkbook.

        4. You meet new school friends, many of whom are smarter than you, who can help you out.

        Anything else your education establishment claims is B.S. Sometimes, really friendly professors that like your work can arrange contacts, especially if they decide to be your mentor. This is rare, because professors can only handle becoming a role model for a small fraction of their students, and usually that's because they are trying to push more undergraduates into higher degree programs, or underpaid academic work in general.

        So your best bet, in general, is to concentrate on item 3. You can also compete on low price/hour.

                If you managed to get all the way through a degree without ANY relevant work experience, that usually means you were a spoiled trust fund baby brat, or at least your parents are rich enough to pay off your major expenses. Such brats usually spend most of their degree program partying, cribbing off their smarter frat/sorority friends, or paying for cash-strapped smart people to do their work for them. Tests can be crammed sufficiently otherwise. In this case, you will be dependent on your Greek friends to arrange for jobs for you, or on nepotism of some form. This latter option also precludes needing to post a question on Slashdot.

    • by durdur (252098)

      On the contrary, many companies, especially larger ones, actively recruit from university engineering schools (especially local ones) and have openings that are intended for recent grads. Having work experience will help, but experience isn't actually required.

      That's in normal times, though. The current hiring environment is truly awful and has gotten worse in the past 1-2 months - at least from what I hear and have experienced. Expect delays. Expect to get one foot in the door and then have the door closed

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tyr_7BE (461429)

      I'm sorry to have to be the one to break the bad news to you, but your grades in school don't matter anymore. What recruiters look at is your experience. Which, by definition, you don't have. So your resume ends up at the bottom of the pile.

      Agreed 100%. That's why wherever you go, make sure it has a good co-op/internship program. My degree was half co-op terms - 4 months of school, 4 months of work - right up until graduation. By the time I graduated I had already signed a contract to start working full

    • Don't you remember? Our government was BSing about "ooooohhh...we can't know yet, etc...", while all the "oh shit! recession!" stories were popping up.

      You think the economy is going to turn around mid-2009? OK, I'll stick my neck out, you're fucking insane. You sound like a conservative talk radio pundit.

      I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this one's gonna stretch into 2010.

      Oh, and for the submitter, you've got an OK chance...you're young and cheap. Salary and healthcare-wise. Don't feel so glum.

  • Sorry but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:34PM (#26409965)
    The economy globally has tanked. My firm has just shed *another* 400 IT jobs. I know many people who got made redundant just before Christmas. Firms are collapsing left right and centre and those left are cutting right back to keep afloat.
    Personally,I'd take pretty much any job you can get right now,IT or otherwise. It's not a time to be picky.
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:37PM (#26409991) Homepage Journal

    As the CEO of a small IT company in the US (mostly Midwest-focused), I'd say we hire more out of experience than education. We're consultants, though, but we have helped hire full timers for our customers who want someone there manning the stations all the time.

    For those in college now, GO INTERN. It doesn't matter how much you make, but how much you can mark up that portfolio. If you're graduating and can't find work, then WORK SOMEWHERE. I can't begin to tell you how many people I've interviewed who are 5-6 months out of college but aren't working anywhere, even Starbucks. The lack of showing responsibility by not doing something is a turn-off.

    For us, business is way up. Clients are keeping their hardware longer, which means more maintenance work. They're getting more focused on information security (external and internal), as well as keeping what they have in tip-top shape. We're turning away work.

    Here's a big part of being a successful IT employee: be mobile. Fully, if possible. Try not to sign any long term leases, and DO NOT BUY property even if mom and dad or the grandfolk offer to get you something. I took on work in LA in 2008 because they couldn't find a decent consultant locally, even paying for my flights and hotel stays. If you're mobile, your chance of getting work goes way up. Once you move, stay mobile-capable if other jobs pop up. Don't just look close to home or close to school, look everywhere.

    One area that is seeing rapid growth is in health care clinics (not big hospitals). I think we field a few calls a month from possible clients who have to maintain a large infrastructure and are sick of high priced consultants. That's when we usually try to place full timers rather than work a contract out in an environment that really needs full time management of IT.

    I personally would stay out of software development if you don't have any real portfolio of work done, but in terms of maintenance, the job market looks pretty reasonable in the 4 markets I monitor. It's just a matter of that dreaded experience that most college graduates have none of. It would be very hard for me to hire someone on degree alone. My last 3 hires didn't even graduate college, but are phenomenal at showing up on time, doing their job right, and giving our clients 150% of themselves when needed.

    • by entrigant (233266) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:01PM (#26410199)

      The lack of showing responsibility by not doing something is a turn-off.

      I'd be interested to hear the reasoning behind this. How does not working show a lack of responsibility? We work to provide for ourselves. If I have the means to provide for myself without needing a job for an extended period and I choose to take advantage of it to take my time making sure when I do need employment I find some place where I am happy, how does that equate to being irresponsible?

      If I had the means I've never work again. I'd use my time persuing my interests and hobbies. I'd take the time to enjoy life and contribute to society in ways that I enjoy doing.

      Yet I'm irresponsible?

      If I must work under someone else then I might as well make sure I will enjoy what I do, and that will benefit my employer as much as it does me. I don't care if it takes 5 days or 5 months to find such a position.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kaiidth (104315)

        The lack of showing responsibility by not doing something is a turn-off.

        I'd be interested to hear the reasoning behind this. How does not working show a lack of responsibility?

        If I must work under someone else then I might as well make sure I will enjoy what I do, and that will benefit my employer as much as it does me. I don't care if it takes 5 days or 5 months to find such a position.

        Not answering for the GP, but I have the same reaction as him/her about the 'not working', and so maybe this is somewhat useful.

        It doesn't bother me if you're working and being paid for something or whether you're doing it for the love of it, but either way you should be able to explain what you have spent the last five months doing. If you've been doing something that makes you money and yet has nothing to do with the job you're applying for it tells me that you're able to get out of bed and go in to work

    • by fishbowl (7759) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:10PM (#26410299)

      "Here's a big part of being a successful IT employee: be mobile. Fully, if possible."

      Don't buy a house. Don't be active in a local community. Don't make friends. Don't develop local business relationships. Don't get married. Don't have kids. Don't even get pets.

      I don't know how you measure "success."

      On one hand, I *am* willing to do "100%" travel if the compensation is good. (But my travel rate is several times my normal rate.)

      I had to be very harsh with a persistent recruiter who could not understand why I wasn't motivated to relocate to Salt Lake City Utah (from San Diego California). Sometimes "Being mobile" has a cost that I mark very high.

    • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Samschnooks (1415697) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:37PM (#26410479)

      I can't begin to tell you how many people I've interviewed who are 5-6 months out of college but aren't working anywhere, even Starbucks. The lack of showing responsibility by not doing something is a turn-off.

      That's YOUR opinion.

      There are folks who worked their asses off in school and decided to take a break. Which is a good thing because, I don't know about you, I wouldn't want someone who hasn't relaxed a bit; otherwise, they have a tendency to burn out.

      Many of those places won't have anything to do with someone with a BS or higher because they're "over qualified".

      There could be family issues that is none of your business. Just because you're an employer doesn't mean you need to know every little thing about their life.

      That's the trouble with employers these days, they have all of these "shoulds" and "oughts" about what makes a good hire that's based on nothing or worse, experience based on a previous hire or two.

      And the trouble is, if there's the slightest non conforming aspect of someone's work history, they're marked for life. And yet, American business wants folks who "think outside the box". No they don't. Because folks who really do are rejected out of hand because "they're irresponsible" or some other asinine label.

      • by plasmacutter (901737) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @10:39PM (#26412609)

        And the trouble is, if there's the slightest non conforming aspect of someone's work history, they're marked for life. And yet, American business wants folks who "think outside the box". No they don't. Because folks who really do are rejected out of hand because "they're irresponsible" or some other asinine label.

        I'd like to point out "behavioral interviewing" and "personality tests" in this category too.

        There are federal laws banning the use of polygraphs in interviews, but this type of thing is VERY similar.

        I'm a pessimist and an introvert. This does NOT interfere with my ability to put on a professional face and be friendly to clients, but it does cause a great deal of stress when a potential job is at stake. Further, being a pessimist, while many people frown on it, has many positive qualities in a work environment, such as a propensity to properly assess and prepare for likely hurdles on a project.

        This doesn't matter though, as the slightest sign of discomfort is construed as some kind of black mark.

        The academic equivalent would be someone being passed up who knows their stuff but doesn't test well, while an incompetent who's good at telling people what they want to hear gets top marks.

        What really irks me though is when people give you tests or as questions on internal company policy. These are things you should be told in your training or in your interview by the HR staff; you should not be chucked out of the hire process because you are being forced to guess and you guessed wrong.

        • by tengu1sd (797240) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:05AM (#26414611)
          I prefer to think of myself as an optimistic pessimist. I see failure modes in systems and procedures. Part of my present role is to document and train in possible solutions.

          With that being said, one problem I've faced in the past was never being seen as taking problems seriously. $WIDGET is down, everyone else is shouting, don't you appreciate the problem. Gee, I understand the problem, wrote the chapter on how to resolve it, and can give you a planning estimate (which is always longer than my internal estimate). I'm not freaking out because I don't feel the need to put on a show.

          Oh by the way, when $SYSTEM was planned out, the stakeholders decided redundancy was too expensive. Would you like to review that decision? Learning to say that politely is still something that I have to approach carefully.
    • Experience... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Savage-Rabbit (308260)

      FAs the CEO of a small IT company in the US (mostly Midwest-focused), I'd say we hire more out of experience than education. We're consultants, though, but we have helped hire full timers for our customers who want someone there manning the stations all the time.

      For those in college now, GO INTERN. It doesn't matter how much you make, but how much you can mark up that portfolio. If you're graduating and can't find work, then WORK SOMEWHERE. I can't begin to tell you how many people I've interviewed who are 5-6 months out of college but aren't working anywhere, even Starbucks. The lack of showing responsibility by not doing something is a turn-off.

      I did the Internship thing. Back when I was looking for my first job I was lucky, the .com bubble was still inflating so the internship helped me get a job. In this climate I don't think it will get you very far. By the time the .com bubble burst I had over 2 years of experience as a developer. It still took me months to find a crappy new job as a system administrator since the market was flooded with developers who had much more experience than I did. Every advert for developer jobs specified at least 4-5

  • by pavera (320634) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:39PM (#26410019) Homepage Journal

    I have a couple friends graduating this year, they are in a bad way... Last year graduates from the same school, with the same degree all had 3-4 offers and could basically pick where they wanted to live and what company they wanted to work for...

    This year students are lucky if they've got 1 offer, and the offers are 30-40% below last year's offers. All the big companies have hiring freezes or are outright laying people off.

    Just read an article on CNBC about how graduating in a recession will hurt your earnings potential for as much as 20 years... I'd recommend staying in school til things recover.

    • by pavera (320634)

      sorry to reply to self... these are CS and Information Systems grads from a majory private US university... They are in the tech field... just not specifically "network security" jobs.

  • Life without real world experience is a bitch. In the near future Wal-mart jobs might be looking really great compared to starving and I'm not kidding. You may be surprised at the kinds of valuable experience you can gain from a shitty job.

  • Maybe it will go down like this in some places:

    1. IT seen as an expense of questionable benefit. So it gets greatly cut back (e.g., layoffs).

    2. Company discovers that some (probably not all) of those cut-backs caused very painful results. Those people are hired back. (Hopefully the managers/executives involved don't bitch about the cost of IT for a while afterward.)

    3. Economy recovers. Company gets deeper pockets, and stops being so lean on IT again. Projects with speculative payoff are once again fund

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by walterbyrd (182728)

      I agree that many of the positions that have been eliminated will be refilled - they have to be. But those positions will be refilled by younger, and cheaper, workers - in many cases: guest workers.

      Long term, I firmly believe that the trend is down for US IT workers. Simply put: US workers are being priced out of the market. Offshore workers are much cheaper, and the jobs that can not be done offshore, will be done by guest workers, which is still significantly cheaper. Also, hiring guest workers makes it e

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:43PM (#26410051)

    The good news is that there are some companies who'll see "penetration tester" on your resume and immediately hire you.

    The bad news is that many of those jobs will involve creepy bosses and excessive amounts of astroglide.

    • by ciaohound (118419)

      We've all had creepy bosses. What really matters is that you and your colleagues put in a hard day's work.

    • by VoidEngineer (633446) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:38PM (#26410483)
      While parent post was obviously meant to be funny, there's a grain of truth in his post in so far as the term 'penetration tester' is a rather unfortunate term to use, and one you probably want to avoid using.

      Yes, it might be common jargon in the industry, but you need to really think about how you're marketing yourself. Talking about "penetration testing" at work could reasonably be viewed as creating a hostile or harassing work environment at any corporation that takes it's sexual harassment policies seriously. Moreover, if a woman in human resources scans "penetration testing" in your resume, how quick do you think it's going to take her to click 'delete' and toss your resume in the garbage? I'm guessing between 2 and 3 seconds.

      "Security Auditor" is probably a much better term to use.
  • Stay in school! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    For now, your best bet is to stay in school and ride out this downturn. Expect the market to be soft for the next 2-3 years. Even if you can find a job now, it is likely to not be a very good experience. With the number of people out of work now, and the number of potential employers small, those that are hiring are paying low wages for very long hours. Don't expect any on the job training these days either. Most IT departments are shrinking instead of expanding. If you get a job, you will be expected to hi

    • I expect the long-term trend to continue down for US IT workers. I agree that there was an upturn in 2003, but it did not nearly compensate for the devastation that occurred in 2001/2002.

      US workers are being priced out of STEM jobs, that is all there is to it.

  • Paying your dues (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jjohnson (62583) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:50PM (#26410113) Homepage

    IT, because it's generally had it so good over the last couple decades, has never developed the notion that you have to "pay your dues" at the beginning, meaning working crappy jobs to build experience to get a better job. Other, more competitive fields, have long had this aspect, so the idea is more familiar.

    With the economy in the toilet for now and the next couple years, new IT grads have to pay their dues. Grab the best job you can, which won't be great, do well in it, and constantly look for ways to move up the ladder. The first few years will probably suck in one or several ways, but you're suffering will be rewarded later with better positions. The days of college hotshots walking into six figure jobs are over. Get a job, learn your craft, build your resume, and always watch out for your career.

    Bonus advice: the days of socially inept geeks are also over. Social skills are as important as programming skills. The geek who can make friends easily, express himself clearly to non-technical people, and generally get along with everyone else, will always have an advantage over the aspie nerd who can quote machine code but doesn't know to shower every day.

    • by pavera (320634) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:02PM (#26410205) Homepage Journal

      this is the worst advice on this board.. There is no such thing as "climbing the ladder" multiple studies by economists at Stanford and Harvard have confirmed this. Aim high, get the job you want for the pay you want or stay in school, any other choice will hurt your earnings potential for literally decades to come.

      If you "take whatever you can get" now, you will artificially hurt your earnings potential because generally you will only ever get a cost of living raise and 3-5% of 40k for 20 years puts you way way behind 3-5% of 60 or 70k over 20 years. And unless you can change your career, you won't get a big bump in salary when the economy improves. Even if the economy gets a lot better, they aren't going to suddenly give you a 20 or 30% raise for the same or similar job you've been doing for much less.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by hobbit (5915)

        Aim high, get the job you want for the pay you want or stay in school, any other choice will hurt your earnings potential for literally decades to come.

        1) Bet X dollars on red. If you win, goto 3. If you lose, let X:=2*X and goto 1.
        2) ???
        3) Profit!

        Reasoning like this from economists is why we're in this mess in the first place. In capitalism, for every winner, there are necessarily losers.

      • If you "take whatever you can get" now, you will artificially hurt your earnings potential

        I agree, Pavera. The effect of not going straight for what you want will be playing pinball in the job market until you do. Not all experience is useful, or particularly pleasant.

        Model/profile what your prospective boss really wants. Be that person. See that person in the mirror. Find out everything about the exact tool set desired and learn that tool set and the business context surrounding it. That's important whether you want to design embedded systems for commercial aircraft or drive a metro bus.

      • by jjohnson (62583)

        You're right that climbing the ladder doesn't happen, at least in one company. In IT, climbing the ladder means getting a different, better job at another company, which is also the only way to get a big salary bump. But I'm confused by what you mean by "get the job you want for the pay you want or stay in school". What if the job he wants isn't available? How far into student loan debt should he go? What if he can't get the job he wants because he has no experience?

        In the end, it's better to work and

        • by pavera (320634)

          It may be... but that isn't what these studies said... Students who stayed in school an extra year or two easily made up for extra debt and the lost earnings for those couple years by graduating in a good economy.

        • by pavera (320634)

          sorry to reply again.. The ladder in IT is what you are saying... My big "bump" in pay happened when I moved from IT to Software Development. I made this mistake (graduated in 01), and "took what I could get" which was a network admin job for 35k/yr... I spent the next 4 years building my software dev resume through open source, and various personal projects... Finally in 05 I got a nice bump when I got my first software development job, which was hard to get, because of my experience on my resume (I inter

    • How are people supposed to "pay their dues" when even people with college degrees can not find entry-level employment?

      http://techtoil.org/wiki/doku.php?id=articles:news_and_commentary [techtoil.org]

      • by jjohnson (62583)

        My point. The salad days of easy employment in the IT field, just for showing up in the classes, are over.

  • In my company (not a software company), people are most likely to be hired (and later let go) because of a new project. Many non-essential projects (i.e. just about everything) die and new ones become more sparse in a down economy. But, if you can show you know "the business" -- the way the company makes money and generates funding for new projects -- you can often provide more value outside of the project become a captain instead of a passenger on the sinking ship. A good goal these days is to be the la
  • When lay offs come, assuming you don't have the connections/get lucky and get in to one of the diminishing supply of equal or better jobs, what do you do?

    Do you hold out, unwilling to sacrifice any of that seniority on your resume, hoping to get just as good a job - but losing money and gaining a big "unemployed" hole on your resume while you do?

    Or do you suck it up, take whatever's paying, cash in some of your seniority for easily out competing everyone else for a more junior job that pays now and doesn't

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Animats (122034)

      In five years, we'll be out of this slump

      It may take much longer than that. After 1929, the stock market didn't reach its previous high until 1954. And that was with WWII in the middle. Japan hasn't come back from their 1989 crash yet. This recession may be "L-shaped".

      The really depressing analysis is that not only is this the start of the Second Great Depression, it's when we start running out of key raw materials like oil, copper, etc. Slowly, industrial civilization, which is only two centuries o

    • Along those lines: Get that experience on your resume. If you can't get it as paid experience, donate your time as a sys admin to a charity, a community group, whatever.

      I see this brain-dead advice all over the place. It is so amazingly stupid, I can hardly believe people keep posting it. 1) Unless you can afford to live with a zero income for several years, the advice is a non-starter. 2) This sort of experience is rarely, if ever, valuable.

      Because, five years later, when the economy does recover as it always does, those few with the experience get to make a lot of money again.

      The problem for US IT workers is not just the recession. US STEM workers, including IT workers are being priced out of the market - just like US assembly line workers were priced out of the maret in the 1980s. IT jobs are being offshor

  • by Facegarden (967477) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:54PM (#26410153)

    You ask if jobs are available, and of course they are, its just that every job (theoretically) goes to the most qualified person. Experience is key to that, but you don't even have to find a job to get it. I spend all kinds of time poking around on google or hackaday finding neat things to learn about. I'm a mechanical engineer but i taught myself C# recently (hey, it works) and i can write some pretty useful apps for work now. I taught myself CNC programming because i didn't want to wait to take it as a grad student (and i never ended up graduating). I spent many hours in high school learning how to use basic stamps and build an omni-directional hexapod before i even got to college. My high school was a podunk mountain school with wood shop being the most technical class, but i went out on my own and learned what i need to know.

    You should do the same, whatever field it is you want to learn, go practice it as much as possible. Be able to wow interviewers with your knowledge of things that you could only have by trying it, not by hearing about it in a classroom. Of course getting a job will teach you that stuff but a lot of things can be learned at home too, before you have a job. As someone else said, even starbucks is good because it shows willingness to commit, but if you do end up there, you can still get experience at home. Hell, freshman year in college i didn't drink, so most of my friday and saturday nights were spent programming. I eventually got a good social life (yay booze!) but i learned a lot that year.

    My junior year i heard about a local place that needed a mechanical engineer, and even though i hadn't graduated, all of my personal experience is what got me the job. I ended up finishing my senior year but i still needed a lot more credits, and i was so burnt out i said screw it, started full time at that job, and now have excellent pay, flexible hours, and a sweet job in general.

    Now i have even more experience from what i've done at this job, but i wasn't just sitting around before that, and you should make sure you don't either.
    -Taylor

  • by Goblygoop (1450179) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @05:58PM (#26410169)
    I worked as a pen tester a couple years ago. Some may not agree, but go for one of the Big 4 accounting firms or their sister companies. The company name is huge on resumes, you learn lots of business stuff. Knowing how to properly document, follow procedures, create repeatable tests is extremely important. You can learn this in both sides, either audit or implementation. I started in implementation. Knowing how to build something makes it much easier to take apart (pen testing). You learn how the technology is implemented and what mistakes are normally made. I went from there to auditing and pen testing. I was immediately the top "tech" star (which was sad), but I didn't know how to properly document. Audit firms are masters of documentation. From there you can jump into full on pen testing. People that don't have a rounded background are not good pen testers IMO. If you are in DC area, you have many options. Audit has sox and fisma, fiscam and a boat load of others.
  • Grad School (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rlp (11898) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:13PM (#26410313)

    Go to grad school while you wait for the economy to turn around. In fact, you might want to go for a PhD.

    • According to Lou Dobbs, scientists are making about $35K a year. I don't see where would be enough to pay your loans and earn a living.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:25PM (#26410385)

    Major hiring industries for the next few years, are going to be anyone, directly or indirectly, who receives a slice of the pork pie that the US government will be distributing.

    Follow the news, and prepare applications for any industry that is looking for government money. If the industry gets rebuffed by the government, oh well.

    If an industry gets some pork, send them your applications immediately.

    Good, healthy companies are just going to ride out the next couple of years with the folks that they have, and won't be hiring.

  • by RichDiesal (655968) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:38PM (#26410489)

    Experience always trumps education.

    Grades are important, but only while you are competing against other recent college graduates. If a company is hiring a new IT person and has 10 recent graduates to look between, the one with the highest grades will be an easy call for an interview.

    But that isn't the situation now.

    Right now, we have laid off IT workers who have already had a job, sometimes years of them, and that experience (and demonstrated success at holding a job for a while) is more valuable than your schooling, and a 0.5 difference in GPA.

    Someone liked them long enough to let them keep an IT job for some number of years. You, however, are an unknown factor. Thus, they are the safer bet.

    They have already proven they can stick to a college degree long enough to get it (as have you). They have also proven they can be successful in a real IT environment. Thus, they are 2 for 2. You are 1 for 2.

    Just get any IT job you can find, at least for now. Trade up when options are better. Don't hold out for your dream job now, or you might not get anything at all.

    • Taking any job might just be a way to paint yourself into a corner. If you start working as a $9 an hour helpdesk tech, you will be seen as a $9 an hour helpdesk tech - no way is anybody going to hire you as a $70K a year software engineer, no matter what you did before the helpdesk job.

  • I Just Graduated (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kevination (1410467) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @06:54PM (#26410665)
    Hey, don't worry too much. I just graduated in December from Michigan Technological University with a 3.1, packed up a U-Haul, and moved out to NYC without a job offer. No one's heard of MTU out here, but within a week I had two really good offers, and got my salary up pretty high by having the two companies fight for me. I had two summer internships, I was the GM of a student group, and I had a student job at the sys admin place on campus. Anyway, it's not so bad. I highly recommend you pick a place that you want to live (and that has a decent local economy), move there, and start pounding the pavement. I spent 3 months applying for jobs in NYC from Michigan, and it was essentially useless. Once you're local, you're golden. Good luck!
    • by pavera (320634)

      LOL, classifying NYC as a "decent local economy" these days...

      Heartening story though, thanks :) Everything I've heard from grads this year is absolutely abysmal.

  • I read dice message boards fairly frequently. I could not help but notice how many college graduates could not find decent employment in IT. I collected some of the posts, and put them in a blog article:

    http://techtoil.org/wiki/doku.php?id=articles:news_and_commentary [techtoil.org]

  • Three letters (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davebarnes (158106) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @07:21PM (#26410887) Homepage

    NSA
    CIA
    DIA

  • yeah (Score:2, Informative)

    by pkbarbiedoll (851110)
    Learn Hindi.
  • People hire People (Score:5, Informative)

    by persaud (304710) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @08:14PM (#26411381)

    1. Experience: self-educate in an emerging technology in your chosen field. You have the advantage of being unbiased to legacy practices. With an emerging technology, no one has experience. In today's world of cheap hardware and open-source software, it has never been easier for motivated people to find a way to contribute. Treat the learning process as an extended interview, including your project emails and contributions.

    2. People: you're already at the bottom, nowhere to go but up. Don't further handicap yourself with low expectations, reality will be happy to reduce your expectations for you. Aim as high as you can imagine and work down as necessary. Rank the top ten companies or organizations (globally) with people who are experts in your chosen field. Identify some of these people by name and learn about their career path and current projects. Find a way to contribute to similar projects. Work backwards from their social network to your social network and try to have F2F conversations with local contacts who are best-of-breed.

    3. Budgets: use your F2F contacts to obtain intelligence on budgets. In a poor economy with layoffs, the remaining people often have too much work to handle. Creative volunteering and compensation ideas can get you involved in real-world projects where the experience is worth 10X the dollar value comp. It all starts and ends with people, be they HR, managers or customers. So focus on being useful and building relationships with people. The most valuable information is often very transient (e.g. time sensitive hiring opportunities) and communicated only by word of mouth.

    4. Recession: some of the best engineering creations have come from highly constrained environments. If you can be successful in an environment of fiscal discipline, you will only be more successful when boom times return. The same cannot be said for those who begin careers in boom times and are shocked by their first major downturn. There is no better time to start working than now. It doesn't mean you'll find a job quickly, but you will learn much more than by staying in school (which also costs money, even if deferred).

    10 years from now, business schools will have course material dedicated to the lessons of these unprecedented economic times. New grads have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to experience the kind of business environment where fortunes will be lost and won, as economic hierarchies adjust. Don't miss the excitement by hiding in school!

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @10:24PM (#26412499)
    ... you'll be arrested. I'll be looking for a job as a penetration tester
  • by altinos.com (919185) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:04AM (#26413197)
    As one of the primary technical interviewers at my company, we've never been interested in grades. Rather, we're more interested in someone that can jump in and be productive quickly.
    • It's not just you, look at the job ads. Education is nice to have, as an extra; but experience is a must.

      In this economy, if you don't already have experience, you are not likely to get it.

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