Joyce Lain Kennedy
Career Q & A
August 24, 2012
DEAR JOYCE: I read a blog saying that downsizing at technology-sector companies is at its highest level in three years. What does this mean for people hoping to do well in an information technology era? -- K.T.
DEAR K.T. -- Not much, top expert David Foote says. Foote is chief executive officer at IT analyst firm Foote Partners. The company has been researching and reporting on IT and business labor trends for nearly 20 years. Here's how Foote explains what's happening:
"Telecommunications industry jobs have been on a long, slow decline due to the explosive growth in mobile computing: 36,000 of these jobs were lost in the last 12 months. But in other tech industry segments, such as the IT services industry, job growth has been strong, adding 129,000 new jobs in the same period."
Because information technology jobs are found in virtually all industries and no longer confined to one department within companies, the outlook for future demand is complex. Here are two key points drawn from Foote's big-picture observations, which you can find at footepartners.com, a website that IT professionals wisely bookmark:
-- Companies are shifting to new business models and incorporating cloud computing, mobile platforms, Big Data analytics, new architectures and business processes and many other transformational technologies and tools. A radically different mix of people with skills and experience in both business and multiple technologies are required to get true value out of these advances.
-- Even so, employers continue to actively build and maintain capabilities in purely technical areas relating to networks and systems. They look for the best talent available. But they are looking for unique combinations of tech skills in a single individual.
Here's my forecast: Move with the times and you face a promising future. Unless your job is moved offshore to cheaper IT labor. Or handed to a visa holder supplied by an IT body shop.
DEAR JOYCE: I read recently that New York's biggest Wall Street investment firms hope to cut costs by shifting mid-tier jobs -- accounting, trading, legal support and human resources -- out of the area to less expensive states, such as Nevada, North Carolina and Florida. How can I find out if there are jobs being moved to my locale? -- M.B.C.
DEAR M.B.C. -- In addition to reviewing job ads in print and online, networking on social media and writing an email inquiry to specific investment firms, you could also check at your local chamber of commerce, newspaper business editor, bank manager, stock broker, reference librarian or job club facilitator.
DEAR JOYCE: For the past several months, I've had quite a few interviews. At the end of each interview, I ask how I did. Each interviewer says things like, "Great!" "Well spoken," "Nothing to improve on." But later the tune changes after they hire another candidate. Then it boils down to, "We hired someone else based on a better company fit." Why no straight answers? -- N.L.
DEAR N.L. -- What the 'best fit' banality means is that in this age of litigation, it's naive to expect truthful or constructive feedback from interviewers who chose another. Almost every employer is savvy enough to realize that "better fit" is a safe turndown (assuming that all "better fits" don't result in a pattern of discrimination against protected classes).
Even if you're a "perfect 10" for the job, any number of reasons can lie beneath the best-fit dodge, including the possibility that the job was reserved for a specific individual before interviewing began.
DEAR JOYCE: After the new school term begins, I want to try writing freelance articles. Any special tips? -- G.F.
DEAR G.F. -- Look into a time-saving new digital service called Assignmint (assignmint.com), which, at this writing, has public beta status. Assignmint tracks freelance work from pitch to paycheck -- story proposals, logging assignments and filing invoices. Individual freelancers can get a free account on Assignmint, but editorial teams pay about $10 a month for a premium subscription with extra features.
(E-mail career questions for possible use in this column to Joyce Lain Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org; use "Reader Question" for subject line. Or mail her at Box 368, Cardiff, CA 92007.)
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