Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Businesses The Almighty Buck Technology

Moving Up the IT Ladder in a Poor Economy? 892

Andy asks: "As almost anyone who joined the IT industry on the tail end of the Dot-Com boom can tell you, trying to move up in the industry for the past couple of years has been like jogging up-wind in a hurricane. I have sent resumes to countless numbers of employers only to still be working in the same $13/hr. low-end outsource support job as when I started (and $13/hr. doesn't get you too far in Boston these days). Learning more and more languages/technologies/protocols has merely resulted in a larger skill set on my resume, with pretty much the same level of experience, and no new interviews. Has anyone else been able to get out of this sort of slump, either during this economic slump or a previous one? Should I just continue the path of learning as much as I can and applying for jobs? Would getting a cert (maybe an RHCE or some Cisco certs) help? Would it be worth it to get a degree in MIS or CS?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Moving Up the IT Ladder in a Poor Economy?

Comments Filter:
  • by cybermint ( 255744 ) * on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:14PM (#8976584)
    The economy is still slow without a doubt. It's hard to find constant work even for those who are skilled and experienced. I was fortunate enough to make connections near the end of the dot com boom, and recently those connections have begun to pay off. My income has more than doubled in the last 6 months, although work is still inconsistant. If I didn't have the experience beforehand, or I didn't make those connections, I'd probably be flipping burgers right now.

    I doubt many employers want a mediocre jack-of-all-trades kind of guy. You're better off selecting one or two specific areas and focusing on getting experience within it. Most of the technicly adept and smart employers know that tech certifications are pretty much a bunch of BS, but some still require it if you want to get your foot in the door. The same goes for degrees. Either way, couldn't hurt to have it.

    And btw, FP bitches!
    • by cshark ( 673578 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:24PM (#8976713)
      I don't know about that. The more skills you have the better. But no one wants a mediocre employee to begin with, no matter what the skill set. The more skills and experience with those skills you have, the more employable you'll be. It also gives you more spin options for your resume. And in this job market you're going to need to spin your resumes in as many ways as possible. If I were in this guys shoes, I would spend some serious money on certification. Nothing, not even formal education is more voluble than a high level certification in your chosen area. If you have high level certification and education... all the better.
      • by Mateito ( 746185 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:41PM (#8976936) Homepage
        Nothing, not even formal education is more voluble than a high level certification in your chosen area.

        Emphasis mine.

        An RHCE is worth more than a Linux+ because its a damn site harder.

        A CCNA is worth... well.. not much... except as the prerequirement for a CCNP. An MSCE is fine if you want to support windows, but the combination of an MSCE, A+ and CCNA isn't really that great. You are better off investing all your time and effort into one stream. Generalists are dime a dozen.

        Note that if you are a support engineer, these certs are good for you. If you want to code, get a degree.

        • Cisco certs do not have prereqs. They state on their site that they do, but that's a bunch of BS. You can go straight to the CCIE if you want. I know because I have.
        • The orginal article wrote "Learning more and more languages"

          A working knowledge of the local language where much of the outsourcing is going couldn't hurt. Yes, I know most of India's IT shops speak english as their primary language, but I suspect farmers in southern california are at an advantage if they speak Spanish too. Knowledge of whatever is spoken in Bejing or Bangalore is valuable in corporate IT today.

          And the parent article wrote. "An RHCE is worth more than a Linux+ because its a damn site

          • by Mateito ( 746185 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:48PM (#8977659) Homepage
            > I think most managers up the ladder are
            > generalists, not specialists.

            I think most managers are useless.

            A good manager is a specialist... in management.

            To be a good IT manager, you have to let the al lot of the tech stuff go. Its not like "hey, I know a bit of windows and a bit of cisco and a bit of Solaris" its "I know how to define goals and how to best use the people and resource I have to achieve those goals".

            This does not mean getting the whip out.

            I was cynical about the value of an MBA until I started one. There is a lot of sound management theory that is actually based on real things like psychology and mathematics. It not a "science", but its consistent.
        • by SiO2 ( 124860 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:35PM (#8977546) Homepage
          An MSCE is fine if you want to support windows...

          I don't know. Getting an MCSE means that you learn the Microsoft way of doing things. Look at how well they do things. I prefer good old fashioned practical experience to certification. When you go for an MCSE, you learn things in the lab, which really doesn't translate to real world experience and expectations.

        • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @08:14PM (#8978355) Journal

          generalists are a dime to dozen. Probably you are right ... and?

          In 10 years it is irrelevant wether you are a MSCE(what ever that is) or a CCNP(what ever that is) or a A+ or a CCNA(what ever that is).

          Do you know:
          a) CORBA
          b) SQL
          c) UML
          d) Java and/or C++
          e) assembler (regardless what proc)
          f) J2EE/SOAP/an OO data base
          g) CVS or an other revision controll system
          h) RUP/XP/SCRUM (regardless what)
          i) COCOMO/FPA or any other

          Do you have any clue about systems architecture?

          Well, some people might call that a "generalist". I call it a basic education in Software Engineering.

          1) I would try to get any job which you find interesting. Put it on your resume as further reference for your next job after that one.
          2) if you lack money I would ask your parents/friends for a loan and try to follow 1)

          In the long run nothing is more revarding, than a general education about EVERYTHING.

          Computers, CS, programming, is not just programming in your 1st language you met in school ... there is so much more.


          P.S. I would never hire a specialist except probably for a decent DBA.
          • by cetialphav ( 246516 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @09:00PM (#8978633)
            P.S. I would never hire a specialist except probably for a decent DBA.

            Amen to that. When I see people with 5-10 yrs experience doing one type of work, I run. This typically means that they either can't or won't learn new things. I've been a tester for a diverse set of projects, but there are others in my group who have been working on the same set of technologies for 10 years. Guess who understands the company better? Guess who is more employable (especially outside of telecomm, where I currently work)? Yep, me. I have a lot of knowledge and I've proven that I can and will learn and improve.

            So to the question at hand. My advice is do something to show you want to do more than what you are doing now. All you have proven is that you can handle a $13/hr support job. Fine, I have no problem hiring you to do that for me. But you want more. If I were interviewing you, I would want to know what job do you want and what have you done to prepare yourself for it. With the way support is being outsourced, you can't expect to stay in that field and make more money. You need to do _something_ to move yourself where you want to go. Certs? Degree? Depends on what you want to do. But if you aren't willing to go get some of the easy certs how would I, as a hiring manager, know that you will really stretch yourself at my company. I've seen a lot of resumes and everybody with a few years of experience can list lots of technologies, even if they don't really know them. You have to do something to prove you are different.

            I personally think a degree is the way to go. It gives you the background you need for other things and shows you are willing to work hard to improve yourself. It is the key to most of the higher paying jobs out there. Without it you will always be chasing after the latest certificate.
      • by unixbob ( 523657 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:56PM (#8977097)
        I actually agree with the OP. Having loads of stuff on your CV makes you look like you have only a superficial understanding of the subjects. if a CV comes accross your desk and someone with 3 years dev experience knows Java, C++, VB, perl, javascript, C#, Oracle . . . . then you have to question how indepth this individual knows these platforms.

        That's different from saying you've got experience in Analysis. Design, Team leader stuff. etc.
        • by saden1 ( 581102 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:57PM (#8977749)
          That is why you break it down by proficiency. In my resume I write I am proficient in C++/Java and everything else I know, I put into "very knowledgeable" or "knowledgeable" bucket. Most of my knowledge is derived from experience so I make sure to list the projected in which I used a particular language/technology. One thing you never do is to list something that you really don't have experience in. This way, you can avoid looking like a buffoon if the subject ever arises in an interview.
          • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @08:37PM (#8978508) Journal
            I have found that most CEO's are more interested in making more money, rather than your particular skill set. Making money for the company is the ultimate skill, no matter what language or platform you use. Most of the succesful people I know are not specialists, they are "jack of all trades" that know enough about lots of subjects. Its not the knowledge that matters, its their ability to apply it in a way that is profitable.

            I see so much potential for programmers, it is unreal. I look into the void and see a major shortage of applications for many industries that run on Linux. I have been searching for many, many months, and have not found any of the software I need to change the network to a *nix environment. I don't even care what flavor: Linux, BSD, OSX, whatever. SAPs suite only runs on Windows, and they don't want to support Linux as a Windows file server. Many calls to IBM have resulted in dead end leads. Oracle is just too much for this job, and slightly out of budget for only a 4 year license (and we have a fairly liberal budget).

            I hear alot about skilz and such, but most small to medium business owners care about the results, not the methods. Often, you have to be able to fill more than one pair of shoes to get in. One way is with the ability to produce/demonstrate some software that will address some problem they have. Desperately. Business owners need solutions. We need software. We need a reason to fully embrace Linux. We want to. And we can pay fairly for it, and for extra support. But we can't if we can't the software to run the business to begin with.

            I can't say what the solution is, but Linux desperately need commercial programmers to succeed, and I know there are lots of people willing to pay for it. I am one of them. It seems there just HAS to be lots of opportunity for a programmer in this environment. The economy is not bad. It WAS bad, and its getting better fast. Some industries and/or companies didn't really have a recession. They saw growth every year for 10 years or more. Even new startups need software, and MS is so expensive for a small network (think 20 to 40), that GNU/Linux can compete if it has the right applications. None of the licensing headaches, get to use older hardware, more stable, easy to customize, much easier to administer. Yes, we believe you, we already use Linux for routers and web servers. Now give us the biz apps. Here, have some money.

            Nothing would make me happier than being able to say "Yes, this is exactly the software I need. I will gladly pay you your asking price, and full support as well.". Everything out there is either too small and simple, or too much for a company with under 50 employees. There simply IS opportunity out there. Now would be a good time for some visionary capitalist to finance it and make themselves rich in the process. Once Linux becomes the dominant OS and bgates is irrelavent, we will need someone new to kick around anyway.
    • Most of the technicly adept and smart employers know that tech certifications are pretty much a bunch of BS, but some still require it...

      I hear this a lot on Slashdot and similar places. However, I hear just the opposite when talking to people in the employment field.

      I'm US Navy, 19 years, and looking to retire shortly and enter the IT field. I've been repeatedly told by head hunters, employment agencies, etc. that military people who get out and have their certs have little trouble finding a job. Tho
      • by el-spectre ( 668104 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:32PM (#8976838) Journal
        2 things:

        1) Certification earned in the military most likely was tough to get, and thus is respected.

        2) There are a lot of worthless IT certs in the civilian world, that's why we disrespect them. The poster mentioned "technically adept and smart employers"... headhunters rarely (at least in my experience) have a clue, they're just trying to match technology names to a resume. I once had this fellow quite confused, as it took 5 minutes to explain, that coding Java, and "writing java scripts" were not related. stoopeed headhunter...
      • by Safety Cap ( 253500 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:35PM (#8976874) Homepage Journal
        One head hunter told me that he won't even take resumes from ITs (Information Technologists) unless they have civilian certs.
        You weren't talking to a headhunter, you were talking to a (recruiter|pimp|body-shop drone|sleazebag resume database filler).

        Real Headhunters work for companies to find the right person to fill a slot, whereas one of the other kinds throw as many bodies at a slot hoping that one will stick. The key difference between the former and the latter is that you don't contact the former about a job, they contact you.

        • After seeing the headhunters at my former company at work, it almost seemed like they would pick names out of a hat. I would say about 75% of the hires they picked would either leave or get fired within 6 months. The systems director I worked for told me he didn't care about certifications, that he'd rather have someone who set up their own network at home and actually had some hands on experience versus someone who got their answers from the book then regurgitated them when their tests came.

      • by jhagler ( 102984 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:45PM (#8976998)
        The value of certs varies depending on the audience that's seeing them. If you're one of several hundred applicants for a position, a head hunter will use certs/college degrees/years of experience to whittle that number down to a reasonable number for them to look at. In this case the certs are worth something.

        However speaking as a hiring manager, I basically ignore them. I am more interested in past employment history, the candidates ability to solve technical questions given during the interview, and a general feeling for whether or not I think the person will get along well with the team.

        Having military experience will definitely work in your favor, I found that the best candidate was someone who spent some time in the military, and has then had a couple of years inthe civilian world to adjust to the differences. Plus, the military experience, especially if you do tech work in the military, will many times get you past that initial culling the headhunters do if they don't get too many responses.

        • by anon* ( 637224 ) <slashdot.baudkarma@com> on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:18PM (#8977357) Journal
          I agree... a cert won't mean much once the interview process starts, but it could make the difference in getting the interview in the first place.

          I worked as HR Database Admin for a fairly large (6000+ employee) manufacturing company with plants all over the US. A monster ad for a new Network admin brought in 500+ resumes.

          The position reported directly to the CIO, so he was running the hiring process. You don't drop 500 resumes on the CIO's desk. You don't even drop 100 resumes on his desk.

          We told him how many applicants we had, and he basically said "OK, throw out everyone who doesn't have a degree, everyone who doesn't have a certification, and everyone who doesn't have a stable work history and at least 5 years of experience. Let me know how many are left."

          That got us down to about 60 or so. Did we toss out the best candidate? Very likely. Did we have the time and manpower to give each of those resumes the attention it deserved? Hell no.

      • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:49PM (#8977029)
        Dude, if you were a tech guy for the US Navy, you will find a job when you get out. I've never meet a hiring manager that doesn't move former military guys to the very top of the resume pile... A very tall pile with lots of civilian MCSE geeks in it.

        You probably know a few people in your field who left the service before you did. Give them a call. Networking gets you jobs a lot more reliably than headhunters do, especially dumbass headhunters who ignore qualifications like yours.

        • by Nick Driver ( 238034 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @07:50PM (#8978189)
          I've never meet a hiring manager that doesn't move former military guys to the very top of the resume pile

          I'm a network admin, and one step below the guy who does the actual hiring at my job. The last three tech support positions that we filled with ex-military applicants, because we once felt the same way about them, all turned out to be duds, and all three were just alike in personality and professional demeanor. In the interview, they all seemed very competant, yet humble and eager to learn and play on the team, but once aboard, all three had one and only one goal in mind: to see how fast they could push their way to the top and see if they take over mine and my boss's jobs. Rules and procedures be damned... those were just a hindrance to their goals. We had a constant mess just cleaning up all the unauthorized, unlicensed software they kept installing all about the organization and fixing all the network shared filesystem ACLs that they'd open wide up to full access to everyone because they thought ACL management was too big a hassle. One of them would deliberately install more unlicensed software on the users machines after each time my boss busted him for doing it. They turned out to not be team players at all, except when they got together to conspire against our boss and undermine his authority. My boss is an ex-Marine, and he swore he'd never hire another ex-military tech again if that's the way Uncle Sam is making them these days. Our two best, most productive, sharpest, and easiest to keep-in-line techs hired since then are a couple of typical total geeks. One is a complete Microsoft fanatic, and the other is a totally rabid anti-MS Linux & BSD fanatic. Thet get along great at work, no sh!t.
      • my experience was similar.
        I think you'll find that about half+ of the employers just don't have a clue about military training so attach no real importance to it; for those, you need a civilian cert or two.
        But it really shouldn't be any problem, the civilian tests are comparably simple, and most likely the navy will pay for you to take them.
        Also, a couple of general end of service pointers:
        get a good copy of your medical record NOW.
        during the discharge process, make sure that EVERYTHING is on your DD-214.
      • by Flounder ( 42112 ) * on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:09PM (#8977253)
        The one thing that's better to have is a DOD security clearance. In the DC area, if you've got a security clearance, you can score a job in the low $60s with barely any experience. Since it can take upwards of 18 months to get clearance, most employers want new hires to already have clearance.
    • You're better off selecting one or two specific areas and focusing on getting experience within it.

      Can't get a job without experience, can't get any experience without a job...
    • by Oriumpor ( 446718 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:28PM (#8976766) Homepage Journal
      I have resorted to reference farming, since in my experience a bad reference can kill any chance you have at getting a job. I know from my experience of interviews there is a large glut of tech-certifiables. Just because they have the initials doesn't mean they know the stuff. Certifications are a bit like final exams. Sure you may have gotten an A on your calculus exam 5 years ago, but if you don't use the skills daily they will degrade.

      Also, many people ignore the requirements on the job-descriptions for new applications. It surprised me at first when requesting for a SQL engineer and recieving resumes specifying MSaccess experience solely as for a DB admin position. Resume's like this go to the shredder.

      From my own personal attempts at getting hired (which were quite extensive.) My biggest problem was a "poisoned" reference. It made all the other references pretty much worthless. Upon calling this individual, I learned later of course, that most of the prospective employers just stopped and tossed the resume in the circular file.

      Also, presentation and attitude helps a ton. If you're looking for a new job be as personable as you would be with a client, as they potentially are. The employer is attempting to find someone who is not only adept, but also socially capable. Shave the beard (or trim it), at least tie the hair back and wear at least a tie when you even HAND in your resume. A good hand shake helps as well as your eye contact, making sure they know who you are is good since then they will know you're not just some resume spammer.

      A smart employer will hire someone based upon their experience, if you have no professional experience in an area you would like to move into donate your time somewhere for an NPO, or find a way to utilize it in your current employers setup. A class or certification only helps so much, experience counts for so much more.
      • by msuzio ( 3104 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:56PM (#8977101) Homepage
        Just out of curiousity, how did you end up with a "bad" reference? If it was a former employer, you should know things like that are actionable. I've fired people for cause before, and even if someone calls, you can't say: "We fired him because he was a drunk". The best you can say is "Things did not work out with him".

        (Here's a reference at FindLaw [])

        So, if this wasn't a business reference, was it a personal reference that went sour? That would be really sad... but I would have thought you might have known that this person was somewhat sour on you...

        Not knocking you, just curious how this came about. I would never give a reference that wasn't a very positive one; I'd just omit those entirely! There's no rule that you have to give contact information and references for every job you've ever had.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          It was a business reference who had offered to be a reference. They had been a client for a few years, and I had a good relationship with the owner. I made sure to ask the references I did list to see if anyone contacted them, and the only one who responded was this client.

          I won't point fingers or name names, but I surely won't use any business references ever again. Still this is old news, I kind of skipped over my point... I was eventually hired by those who had worked with me in the past and knew my
    • "You're better off selecting one or two specific areas and focusing on getting experience within it."

      Considering how much outsourcing there is in the industry, jack of all trades are becoming more popular. Companies want to hire people who have varied knowledge since the specific tasks can be outsourced. Managerial positions in IT where one can make decisions on what and where projects can be outsourced requires broader knowledge.
    • A Jack of all trades is EXACTLY what a company wants...but NOT a mediocre one. If you can resolve pesky office suite format issues, then a network issue, then a sql database problem, follow this up with a custom Word macro to solve a unique need in the marketing dept. A quick cola break then reconfigure the mail server, enter some security groups in Active Directory (You will note a Borg bias to my company), then after two calls that a particular app in an obscure branch office are acting flaky realize th
  • The downside is that you have to leave Boston []. Well one of many downsides......
    • by Zebra_X ( 13249 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:35PM (#8976870)
      Qualifications: Click on link below to view qualification standard. General Schedule Work may entail extended work shift of 12-16 hours a day. Generally, indoor work location has power, water, heating, and air conditioning, although outages should be expected. Lack of sleep may occur due to long work hours and uncomfortable living conditions. Employee will report symptoms of stress and fatigue to the on-site supervisor.

      Well at least it won't be any worse than my current Job!
  • by MurrayTodd ( 92102 ) * on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:16PM (#8976605) Homepage

    I only got a good job going through the "front door" approach once in my life. I was 14 years old.

    20 years later, everything worth getting came from being aggressive with marketing myself and finding unexpected leads. I would recommend possibly getting a book about Cold Calling. There's one especially good called Cold Calling for Women [] that's really good for men or women. There's also a classic book called What Color is Your Parachte []. It's geared toward people who maybe want to switch careers, but it's got good discussion of finding jobs as well.

    It seems to me that going the "normal career route" in the I.T. field is inherently problematic simply because our field changes so rapidly, and few employers want to keep up with constant retraining. So we've got to think differently from other workers, even if we're slogging through the office right next to them.

    The way you get the big payoff is you think outside the box. Become your own entrepreneur. If that's too much hassle, enjoy your $13/hr wage.

  • by greenmars ( 685118 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:17PM (#8976613)
    I was able to get out of that trap by doing volunteer stuff at night to get experience and references.
    • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:42PM (#8976964)
      Hell, I was able to get out of that trap by doing a good job at my current employer and getting raises or promotions. This guy is asking for "moving up the IT ladder". You don't have to change jobs to move "up". If you work in a place where there is not any room to move up, you can work at your current wage or even less (or even volunteer) if there is a good possibility of moving up or gaining skills that can get you better pay.

      If you can't get any real experience or improve you skills you could always pay money to get a cert. That works for some ppl. Also, a degree (any) would help. Many employers require a degree or "equivalent experience". (Don't the job notices say that?)
    • by IO ERROR ( 128968 ) < minus cat> on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:06PM (#8977231) Homepage Journal
      And consider an alternative form of volunteering: open source projects. Get involved with your favorite open source project. I've gotten one job from the strength of having worked on an open source project the hiring manager was familiar with, and through networking with him got another consulting job. Get involved in something high-profile or at least interesting.

      My resume says that I work on a project that competes with Microsoft Exchange. I also have listed IETF working groups that I participate in. (What, you don't? Find one that interests you and get involved.) It also shows an open source project I maintained for the $UNIVERSITY for over eight years.

  • by thebra ( 707939 ) * on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:17PM (#8976614) Homepage Journal
    to find a rich woman to live off of. I don't know where to get certified for that though.
  • One word... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by funny-jack ( 741994 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:17PM (#8976624) Homepage

    As in, expand your personal contacts, not connecting together computers.
    • Re:One word... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iso ( 87585 ) < minus pi> on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:27PM (#8976757) Homepage
      I'll second that. You don't find jobs by sending in resumes these days, especially if the resume is sent electronically. At most companies, electronic resumes (even .DOC files) are put into a database, and most are never read by anything but a computer.

      The fact is, you need to get out there and talk to people, make some contacts, and make the most of your network. If you're going through HR, it's pretty unlikely you'll ever get an interview, nevermind a job.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:18PM (#8976632)
    You kill your boss to move up the ladder. I suggest this for a poor economy, too.
  • Back To School (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:18PM (#8976637) Homepage
    Would it be worth it to get a degree in MIS or CS?

    If you don't have a degree, and you can't seem to get anything better than entry-level and dead-end jobs, going to college would probably be a good idea. The degree alone won't solve your problems, but not having a degree gives the overworked HR drone sorting resumes an easy way to categorize yours... as a NO. Which could explain the lack of any interviews. (By the way, picking up a book on resume-writing might be a good idea as well.)

    Furthermore, if you're going to go to college, the best time for that is during a weak economy (like now). You don't want to spend that occasional window of 4-5 years when everyone else is making money, by sitting in classes and paying money instead.

    • Re:Back To School (Score:3, Informative)

      by IMNTPC ( 45205 )
      Problem is since the economy is week, the state has been taking in less taxes. Since the state has been taking in lesss taxes they're giving less to the university. Since the university is getting less from the state they've raised tuition.
      When I went to the University of South Carolina in 1991 the tuition was around $1200.00 per semester, rumor has it that it's over $3000.00 per semester now. Roughly 13 years over doubled in price. Granted this isnt Ivy league, but not much hope of working part tim
      • Re:Back To School (Score:3, Informative)

        by tverbeek ( 457094 )
        Financial aid may be harder to come by and less helpful than during boom periods, but it's still available... especially if you're just getting by on lousy pay. Community colleges can be a good way to get some of those degree requirements at an affordable cost. It's not easy, but I've been doing it myself, so I know it's possible.
  • by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <> on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:18PM (#8976639)
    Learning more and more languages/technologies/protocols

    In my opinion, a mile wide/inch deep skillset gets you nowhere. If a resume passed my desk with 50 million skills and 5 years total experience, I am going to question that resume right to the circular file. But maybe that's just me.
    • by WinterSolstice ( 223271 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:41PM (#8976934)
      That's a real shame, because I have gotten lots of work due to my ability to make randomly purchased stuff work together. My current company likes to buy "best of breed" software and then have a few people like me make all of the various little packages talk to each other.

      So, I have a 10 year skillset in "one inch deep" stuff. Things like custom-made Perl/ABAP/JS/Java/(etc) connectors, web reporting stuff, etc.

      Maybe you are lucky and have a CEO who doesn't buy everything they hear about on the golf course...

    • by dubious9 ( 580994 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:48PM (#8977020) Journal
      A well written resume will indicate their familiarity will different skills. I personally, (as a developer with ~5 year exp.) have "Expert", "Proficient", and "Familiar With" quantifiers with my skills. I only have a couple under expert and a half dozen at Proficient, but a couple dozen under "familiar with".

      My point is don't automatically disqualify people who learn quickly and like to pick up new things. However, I would agree with you if they didn't quantify their expirience with each and had a whole crap load of listings.
    • by hikerhat ( 678157 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @07:00PM (#8977791)
      Unfortunately "skill set" is a horrible way of gauging a programmer's ability. Understanding the theory behind programming is what makes a valuable programmer. Someone can have 20 years of experience in a few different languages and not be a "good" programmer in any of them. But someone who really understands programming can pick up any language in a week or so. There aren't that many different programming paradigms and once you know a paradigm you pretty much know every language built around that style. So it is easy to have lots of languages with little experience in any of them and still be a better programmer than the guy with 20 years of experience in three languages who can't switch to another language because he doesn't understand the underlying theory.

      Asking a programmer if they have x years of experience in any specific language is a lot like asking a carpenter how many years of experience he has with a certain brand of hammer. It is a stupid question and doesn't help you understand that programmer's ability at all. Saying you need a programmer with any more than 4 years of experience in a particular paradigm is also as stupid as asking a carpenter if he's had years of experience using a hammer. Just as a person can master a hammer in a day or two, any competent programmer can master a paradigm in 3 or 4 years. If it takes them any longer you don't want them.

      Unfortunately this concept is beyond most catberts and hiring managers. It is best to just tell the non-technical person you talk to at a company that you are an expert in the inflated skill set they say they need (but never do, it has to do with H1B stuff...), and then let the real programmers who really know what they need do the technical interview and decide if you are a "good fit" for the job.

  • Move! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by haystor ( 102186 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:18PM (#8976640)
    Move out a Boston.

    Big cities think in big company ways. You have management and underlings.

    Get to some smaller city where you can work for a smaller business, learn the entire business and move up from there.

    At aim for smaller companies ones without a set corporate structure that has no room for you anywhere but the bottom.
    • Re:Move! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jason Hood ( 721277 )
      This is very true, people nowadays are getting tired of being corporate customers. They want to do business with a person they trust. Small companies with good ethics appear to be gaining more ground.
    • Re:Move! (Score:3, Insightful)

      work for a smaller business, learn the entire business and move up from there.

      Yes!!! Small companies are where real learning can start simply because you have to wear so many hats. Larger companies are better for getting depth in a particular skill, but smaller ones force you to learn enough about a lot of things -- Jack of all trades, master of many.

      My first job was with a tiny engineering company (can you tell :-) and I was thrown in head first and forced to sink or swim. I had a blast for the first 2

  • by DR SoB ( 749180 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:19PM (#8976643) Journal
    You'll never find it in this economy. What I can suggest is to find something you really ENJOY doing (i.e. programming/games/support/whatever), and work hard to get that job, and then sit tight and wait for the economy to pick up. At least then you'll get some enjoyment out of your job. If possible look for something with a future for moving to a place where you want to go (or pay scale you want to go) so when the economy picks up, at least you'll be first in line..
  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:19PM (#8976646)
    No wonder you're making $13/hr. We're hiring like mad but won't touch someone without a degree. Even if it's in a related field...I don't have a CS degree but have a couple in physics. Don't bother with the certs...get an education in the field you're trying to get a well-paying job in. I interview candidates in my current job and I can tell you that a degree is worth more than the cert (as well it should be).
    • by Bellyflop ( 681305 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:28PM (#8976769)
      Not having a degree can be a real career limiter/killer. I don't know precisely what kind of work you do/want to do, of course. For software developers, there's really no question unless you have some sort of fantastic background doing the core development of something really important (ie. if you're the equivalent of Linus Torvalds, then ok fine, I don't care if you went to college). Barring that, even if you want to do sysadmin/network design work, a bachelor's degree is pretty important, preferrably in CS or EE. If you're doing PC support tasks (of the "re-install office" type), then sure, no need for a degree, but then the opportunities for advancement are very limited. If you want to continue without a degree, then I think it really comes down to having some good connections that will take a risk on you. Don't expect a move up to management but at least move to salaried pay and then move on from there. BTW, it's been my experience that it's often not enough that you have a degree - it has to be from a great school with a good GPA. I'm not saying it necessarily makes you better, but it's often the filter that companies are using. Certifications usually don't help. For designer type positions, I think that they are actually a hindrence instead of a help...
    • I'm glad people are starting to come around on this. Certs can be gained with a few weekends of crash courses, but degrees by their nature take a lot of time. Plus degrees last longer credibility-wise... what sounds better: a Windows 2000 Server/MCSE cert or a Masters in Info Sys Technology earned in 2000? The first is getting close to useless now that Win 2k3 server is out and everyone is moving to Linux anyway (or should ;) ) while the second is still good because it isn't so limited in scope.

      I've alw
    • by t1nman33 ( 248342 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:44PM (#8976983) Homepage
      Agreed. I pretty much *expect* people to have some sort of a college degree...and personally, at least a 4-year, and not from DeVry. If you don't, I immediately think "Why not?" Since I don't tend to think of the default human condition to be one of brilliance, I'm sorry to say that my prejudices do not lead me to believe that you're just too smart for college. ;)

      Also, there are limiting social aspects to not having a degree, and if you come off like a troll in interviews, you are not going to get hired. Being able to talk about college experiences--which your future boss and interviewer probably had--is one way to find common ground. My current uber-boss is from near London, and being able to just chat with him about where I lived in that city when I did a semester abroad allowed us to establish some common ground that made the interview go must more smoothly.

      Anyway, go get that sheepskin.
      • At the very least, if you don't have a degree, the people factor becomes that much higher. You're either going to have to know someone who can speak well to your qualifications and overall competance, or you're going to have to wow me in the interview.

        That having been said, we just did a round-table in an interview situation today (where the person in question did not have a degree yet), and 40% of us did not have a degree. Of the other 60%, only 2 of those people had a degree in CS :-).

        A degree is a go
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:19PM (#8976647)
    I have an MS cert which I will never, ever, EVER use, yet its listed proudly on my resume next to my Solaris and other tech certs. Why? Because HR drones OCR your resume and do text-searches on it. If you don't have the magic words, you never even make it to the real decision makers.
  • by heyitsme ( 472683 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:19PM (#8976650) Homepage
    Would it be worth it to get a degree in MIS or CS?

    I really hope this isn't serious... how exactly did you plan to get very far in a field you have no formal education in? Trust me, I am a firm believer that "clues > certs" but in the case of a university degree, it's a no brainer. I really hope this was a troll submission...
  • Move... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KlomDark ( 6370 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:20PM (#8976660) Homepage Journal
    Boston is a dying area for techies, like Silicon Valley, less jobs every year. Beefing up your resume won't help much if there's insufficient need in your environment.
  • Consulting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LittleLebowskiUrbanA ( 619114 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:20PM (#8976664) Homepage Journal
    Hit up your local temp agencies for temp IT work. Once you get a temp job make yourself indspensable and the job will follow.
    • Re:Consulting (Score:3, Interesting)

      I know this is somewhat of a joke, but I've done that. Hired as a temp for 2 weeks. Worked there for 3 months. I left because of my own commitments, and by networking the manager guarenteed me a job if I ever needed one again. Granted, this was a labor job, not IT. But I was making close to 13/hr even then. As to the not having a degree aspect, GET THE DEGREE. I make over 13/hr. I'm still in college. My work constantly hires students. We get experience, they get cheap labor. But you gotta be at least enro
  • Specialize (Score:3, Flamebait)

    by rigmort ( 584960 ) * on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:20PM (#8976669)
    I'm a Macintosh (mostly) sys admin and there is plenty of demand for my skills. Windows sys admins seem to be a dime a dozen. Find a specialty -- even my dog has his CCNA and MCSE.
  • by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:21PM (#8976670) Homepage
    Keep computers in your basement as a hobby. I am wrapping up my BS in Business this spring, likely startting MBA next year. Why be Dilbert when you can be the Pointy Haried Boss?

    My biggest problem is I am too good at what I do (I build Oracle/MS-SQL DB's for health care facilites). I also make enough money that the ROI on the MBA doesn't look that great. I'll have to work hard on forgetting what I know to be an effective manager. "I heard Mauve has more RAM". heh. Can't wait!

  • by maiden_taiwan ( 516943 ) * on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:21PM (#8976675)
    If you are in a low-end job and have no CS degree, you're going to have a very hard time getting noticed for a higher-level of technical position. Especially if your resume if your only tool. I can only recommend that you network with some higher-up technical folks in person, and find out (A) if your goals are realistic, and (B) if they can help you.

    You ask whether it's "worth it" to get some more training or a degree. In return, I'd ask what you're trying to accomplish. Do you want to be a software engineer, given you don't have a computer science background? I've known a few excellent people in that situation, but they are VERY rare.

    Also, before blaming the economy: is your resume excellent? Please post it online and I'm sure you'll receive some constructive criticism from the Slashdot crowd....

  • Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PhoenixFlare ( 319467 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:24PM (#8976709) Journal
    Maybe this will change when I finish school next year, but damn, I would kill for a salary of $13/hour at the moment.

    Currently, one month's pay at that rate that would pay my rent, food, utilities, cable, phone, gas, and 6 months of car insurance, with a sizable chunk left over.

    Probably couldn't support a family on that amount, granted, but for anyone (single or splitting costs) not living right near a giant city, $13/hour would be awesome.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Funny)

      by The Snowman ( 116231 ) *

      Maybe this will change when I finish school next year, but damn, I would kill for a salary of $13/hour at the moment.

      I make about $9.60 an hour as an enlisted Air Force programmer. It can always be worse.

    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

      $13/hour would be awesome

      It is also somewhere barely above poverty... Hell I made 12 bucks an hour when I was in school 15 years ago. Yes, I got to live like a king in a small college town. But now I have a mortgage that is 3 times what I was paying in Rent - and frankly I like my nice stuff.

      Now if you are in school somewhere in California, or expensive towns in the North East - I feel sorry for you that you can't make money. If you are in school somewhere in the midwest - I agree 13 bucks an hour i

  • by DeafDumbBlind ( 264205 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:25PM (#8976718)
    Learn about a specific industry and become proficient with the tools that they use.
    For example, learn about sales/marketing and learn how to code with either IRI or AcNielsen or both. Learn about finance and Bloomberg APIs, etc.

    You'll do MUCH better if you come across as someone who understands business but also knows how to code as opposed to someone who's just a god at coding.

  • by psycho_tinman ( 313601 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:29PM (#8976783) Journal

    What do you *want* to do ? You want to climb the ladder of IT jobs, fine. I hear you. But, higher up the ladder, you don't get an easier job. You may get paid a bit better than $13 an hour, but your expectations will increase accordingly. What are you happy doing ?

    I often kicked myself for graduating when I did. I got out of university about an year before the dot-com boom died. This was in 2000. People who graduated a mere year before me were in positions like "architect" and "senior team lead", I was a lowly developer. You can take all the experience you want, but some (most?) places DO look for prior management experience and even if you did nothing except crunch code, you were called an architect, so you get your foot in the door.

    I had to go about it differently. I was a lowly developer. I tried to vary my skillset and technology. No job was too controversial, too risky, too cutting edge. I asked for (and got) all the mad projects, with high risk and high gain (and an equally high chance of failing). I am not sure if this will work for you, or even if you want to, but if you're looking for experience, then think carefully about accepting risky jobs. At startups, underfunded companies and the like. Don't expect to double or triple your salary today. Just keep getting that all important project, real-world experience. Contribute to open source projects. Keep your coding skills fresh. Make an effort to learn some technologies in depth. Call me troll if you like, but for now, Java and .NET both seem to be fairly good bets. Each month, each year you spend building up your resume, you're also in contact with coworkers who work in technology. Network. Get a reputation for good work, for not being a slacker, for being a knowledgable, reasonable person to work with.

    I've gotten 3 (out of 4) jobs so far purely because of someone I knew who knew someone else who had a vacancy.. or from old university contacts .. or from old coworkers who knew I was looking around for another place...

    The difference between you and a lot of other people ? You've got less to lose.

    Good luck

  • by ifreakshow ( 613584 ) * on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:34PM (#8976852)
    I graduated in March 02 from getting a technical degree in Java Programming(along with a few certs) and was in a very similar situation that you were. I finally had a brain storm and started sending in resumes to jobs in marketing departments that had internet marketing groups. I positioned myself as the guy who interface between tech needs and business needs. It's worked out great so far.

    I've been keeping my programming skills sharp by freelancing when available and working on interesting projects for my website. In another 6 months I'll start looking for a programming job again but now I'll have 2 years experiance managing people, working out budgets, working on business strategy and an established protfolio of freelance work.

    This approach probably isn't for everyone but for it's made this recession bearable.
  • by CresentCityRon ( 2570 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:37PM (#8976886)
    Certain parts of the country have been hit much harder than others. So instead of being in competition with 200 resumes you'll be in competition with 5,000. Look for a job in alternate locations or be willing to relocate. Its hard and kinda crazy to leave your family and friends but since you're starting out the experience might be worth it. You can come back "the victor". I did this.

    Or you could find some non profit orgs out there and offer to spruce up their systems and get them going - for free! It could wind up being more experience and responsibility than you might even get for money. Great references too! And a song in your heart. Proves to yourself that you know all you say you do on the resume.

    The finaly point is to DO SOMETHING. Just sending out resumes and learning are not enough. Use some of it in creative ways or at least try to.

    Good luck.
  • by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:40PM (#8976925)
    Yourself, your abilities, a product, your product, just learn it. A professional salesman is a hard employee to find and they're expensive once you find a real one.

    This might sound trite but it's the truth.

    My "order takers" calling themself's "salesmen" make 45-50k. My real salesmen make 80k+.

    And no, it doesn't mater what you sell (see above)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:41PM (#8976935)
    I recently did a paper for a Human Resource Management class in which I interviewed two hiring managers in from two different software companies.

    I asked how they would rank their candidates on based on education, experience, and certifications.

    While one preferred education over experience, they both agreed that certifications were a distant third and worthless without the corresponding experience.

    However, since labor is a commodity and we are currently in period of high supply and low demand, you aren't going to get as much as you might want to.

    There are a lot of very experienced and very educated people going for the same positions you are. As one manager put it, "Right now I can get an incredible amount of talent for a third of their last job, simply because they need the check and benefits."

    These days, you either need an impressive degree, an impressive amount of experience, or a combination thereof.

    As someone said above, your social networking skills are important, too.

    Good luck.
  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:42PM (#8976959)
    It's very simple. The IT industry in the US is largely now a low-paying, blue collar job. If you want to make more money, you're gonna have to do something else. Find a new profession. There's nothing that you can do about it. Get over it.
  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:55PM (#8977087) Journal
    1) A certification can be taken away from you. Which is what happened when MS switched from NT4 to win2k. A degree from an accredited institution cannot.

    2) A cert means your are familiar with a particular technology. You are qualified to be a code monkey or a hardware monkey. A degree means you understand more than that just where the buttons are.

    If you want to move up the ladder, you need a least a 4 year degree. All but the lowest levels of management are out of reach to you right now. A degree shows that you
    1) Have been trained to think critially.
    2) Have a background in theory
    3) Have been trained to communicate (English classes are NOT a waste of time).
    4) Were forced to deal with people who do not think as you do, with other priorities and values.
    5) Have the patience to slog through 4 years of work before getting your reward.
    6) You know how to work independently and also as part of a team.

    The best combo is degree + exp. + certs. But it looks like you have experience, and with a degree that should help. I assume that while in school you would let the certs lapse, but if you can keep up on them you would be in a great position. And you may decide that there is more to life than technology and go into a completely different field. Be happy at what you do.

    In our situation, we hired a guy with certs but no degree and he had to work independently. He cratered out. THen we hired a guy with both a degree and certs and I *am* impressed.

  • Move to a small town (Score:5, Informative)

    by gothzilla ( 676407 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:55PM (#8977089)
    I was in california and could not find a tech job to save my life, so I moved to colorado. Same deal there. An offer from a family friend to move out to a small town in Arkansas turned out to be the best thing ever. There was a major shortage of knowledgable people here and finding work didn't take very long. My first job only paid $12/hr but consider that I also rented a 3 bedroom house in a nice neighborhood close to shopping and schools for $550 a month and gas was a good 50 cents cheaper than california.
    I did my job, met people, tried my best to get known as a great tech and I now have a great job as a System Admin that I love to death. The cities are full of people looking for your kind of work. Get out of there and go somewhere that needs people that know the things that you do. Of course, you won't find any software companies in small towns but you will find TONS of businesses that have to use computers and networks to get their jobs done, and all those people need someone to work on their computers.
    Most small towns have a few computer repair businesses that take care of the businesses but the days of walking in and fixing a computer quickly are over. It takes time to get to know someones network and software and you can't do a good job if you're charging an hourly rate like the small computer support businesses do. These areas are perfect for convincing a business that they will save money and get better service if they hire you as their admin. Show them all the things that need to be done on a daily basis like following security advisories, updating computers, checking security, etc.
    The company I work for pays me quite well and they said their past 3rd party support cost them 3 times as much as I do, and more gets done quicker. Before they would have to wait to get something fixed, sometimes up to 3 days. Now things get fixed immediately and revenues are up because of it.
  • by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @05:57PM (#8977108) Journal
    Someone asked a very similar question last week about outsourcing. My response was:
    My employer prefers to hire engineers from the US and Europe. He doesn't think the Asians are creative enough for R&D work, says that their education system just churns out people who act like robots but have less initiative or creativity. That's just in relation to Japan, Singapore and Taiwan mind you. We don't do any business in India so I'm not sure how they compare.

    To answer the question, I'd say become a rennaisance man. Learn to use both sides of your brain. Take an interest in the arts, you never know how it'll inspire you to look at technical problems from a different angle. It works for me, gets me hired every time.

  • by anzha ( 138288 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:00PM (#8977143) Homepage Journal

    This answer is going to cost me an arm and a leg in karma, but what the heck. That's what it's for, right?

    Show some employer loyalty.

    I just did a hire about 4 months ago. We chewed through resumes for about 6 months before we found someone that we felt would fit. Something that we noticed and ended up using as a filter rule was whether or not a person would stick with a job for more than 6 months. Generally as a rule of thumb, you really want to stick out a job, unless its absolutely hellacious, for about three years. I'd really recommend five, to be honest. That way you're not viewed as someone contaminated with the so-called 'Dotcom Disease.'

    We really wanted someone that once we've invested time, money, and training in to make a contribution to our projects for more than the time an intern would. Most !Dotcoms are similar in their opinions.

    Actually, upon considering it, what this really ought to be relabeled as rather than 'employer loyalty' as 'resume care and feeding'. Your career will live and die by it. Take care of it and it will take care of you. Taking lots of short gigs to try to climb quickly scares off a lot of hiring folk.

    I could go on ponticating, but I am sure that you're sick of it already. ;)

    • by Maestro4k ( 707634 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:33PM (#8977519) Journal
      • We really wanted someone that once we've invested time, money, and training in to make a contribution to our projects for more than the time an intern would. Most !Dotcoms are similar in their opinions.
      Just wanted to note that this is the same reason many employers want to see candidates with a degree (Bachelor's minimum generally, Associate's degrees don't get as much respect). Having the degree is more important than what field it's in because it shows you stick out what you start and finish it. Employers want that, especially in an economy like now where they can pick and choose more freely.
    • by BillsPetMonkey ( 654200 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:39PM (#8977578)
      I've worked for companies who hired programmers for a few months then wound up the departments as the project moved into the next phase. One job lasted 4 months.

      Where employees ride a boom, employers ride the bust. And that incidentally is why IT employers are still bleating about skills shortages - they don't exist but it makes sense to insist there's a shortage to encourage a cheap supply of well-qualified folks, right?

      But the bottom line is buddy, if you want loyalty from your employees, take a pay cut before you sack people next time, after all if you have to get rid of people you've basically failed to do your job, so it's only fair that you should share the blame, right?

      I work in retail IT. It's a fairly stable area of the economy. But I'm also conscious of the fact that while a shop attendant with 15 years service gets $10 an hour, the CEO of a retail group will get $10m a year and will stay in the job for 6 months.

      Sorry if I sound new to this capitalism thing, but the equation seems really simple. However, as I get it but you don't I'll give it to you in big writing:


      (karma and conscience are both burnable rubbish)
  • kick em out (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drwho ( 4190 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:08PM (#8977248) Homepage Journal
    that's because of the outsourcing and work visas being issued. I am also from Boston, at the MIT flea market I heard of a guy who got laid off and they hired some guy on a year work visa from india to fill his job (This is HP).

    time for a new labor movment, keep jobs here, keep money here (in Boston...all of you in India can fight globalization keeping WalMart and Microsoft out if you want, I have no problem with that)
  • ...and start worrying about who you know.

    If someone knows you, respects you, and happens to come into a position to offer a job, it almost doesn't matter what your skills set is. On the other hand, if someone who is offering a job doesn't know you, you almost certainly don't have what they are looking for.

    What are you doing outside of work? If you're not spending time getting to know your local colleagues (via users groups, seminars, book groups, etc. etc.), you'll have to rely on lucking into your next job...and luck is pretty hard to come by these days.

  • by visionsofmcskill ( 556169 ) <vision AT getmp DOT com> on Monday April 26, 2004 @06:38PM (#8977569) Homepage Journal
    Ok, as a starter let me just say that in IT and most buisness, you have to be able to sell yourself in order to get good jobs and advance.

    while my degree has been of great assitance, more than anything my experience has been the real bargain maker. Questions about degree's last less then a minute in your average interview, do you have one or not is all they want to know most of the time.

    But job and real world experience are the goods employers will really ask you about, this is where youve got to be able to say youve done good work in the trenches. Working for smaller companies in IT/IS will give you great experience, even if its for less pay.

    lots of guys take grunt jobs with "impresive" big companies and end up with resumes that are less impresive... can you say you designed, implemented and supported a new and growing network? or did you just keep the system running? Have you designed, and built applications or key components of them? or did you just fill in code?

    Youll tend to get stronger experience working in less attractive jobs but demanding jobs.

    While many people will say a jack of all trades resume is bad, the skillset can be quite usefull in creating a new company or helping one start, which may be a better option for you. The main problem with just "learning" skills without truly using them in a real world application is that your unproven.

    Stay up with your education, and use what you learn to make real programs, shareware and so on, create a full-fledged (ecommerce,security,flash,CMS, etc...) web site for a small company who may not be able to pay you.

    If you take the risk, and the lower paying jobs (or even charity cases!!).. youll find your work oportunities increasing quite quickly.

    P.S. ..... go to night school... get the degree... its definitly worth it...

  • by br00tus ( 528477 ) on Monday April 26, 2004 @08:43PM (#8978540)
    The reality is, there is a lack of demand for IT labor hours right now. And there is an over supply of people willing to work right now at a wage level that is equal to what their skill level was being paid several years ago. This lack of demand from all I have read is across the spectrum - it affects people with one, five, ten and twenty years experience. Lots of people I know with a lot of experience are unemployed, and the data I look at reflects that. So skill increase will not help much as far as I can see. You've already tried that anyhow. Some people here are saying to "network", basically to look harder than the next guy for jobs, but lots of people are doing this more and more increasingly. It's like a game of musical chairs where the chairs keep decreasing and the advice is "run faster than the next guy".

    The social solution to this is obvious. IT workers working nowadays are not working 40 hour weeks, they're working 50 and 60 hour weeks. Three IT workers working 40 hour weeks are doing the same amount of work as two working 60 hour weeks. If people working now cut back on the hours working, there would be more jobs. While the bosses and their sycophants always portray this as an individual thing between a boss and a worker, it is anything but. The bosses and owners have done massive lobbying as an organized unit to try to change the law [] so that the few IT workers currently eligible for overtime now won't get it any more. Since the organized IT worker force to counteract the well-organized, well-funded IT company campaign to to do this is weak and small currently, this law will probably pass and you will be worse off.

    The IT bosses and owners are all acting as basically one organized unit and using their pull as such in Washington DC and elsewhere. The sycophants here are telling you that the hours of free work beyond 40 hours that you do is an individual thing between you and your boss that is your individual responsibility to be in a contract, and a union or the government should not come in and put pressure to help you out there. They also tell you to increase your skills (although, as you've said, it's done nothing for you), or to "network" more than the next guy to find the few job slots that open up - perhaps you can grab it faster than the next guy if you're quick enough.

    Of course the real answer is you need to communicate and organize with other IT workers, and join or form some type of association, union, guild or whatever which acts independently but also puts pressure on the government. Otherwise you just have hundreds of thousands of individual little mice or birds running around trying to find diminishing pieces of food.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.