A sad but true salary problem in the USA right now is that we have more workers than jobs, to the point where each opening draws (on average) four or more applicants. Things are better in IT, but chances are that other people are applying for every job you’re trying to get — and that some of them might be willing to settle for a lower salary than you figure you’re worth.
If your resume is well-written and shows how well-suited you are for today’s opening, and you maintain good posture and speak well during your interviews, chance are that you will be hired over someone whose main qualification is a low salary expectation.
The best way to answer the salary question
If you know what you’re worth, you can ask for an appropriate salary. This information isn’t terribly hard to come by, in a general sense, and you should load up on salary knowledge before you decided what you are worth — and you also need to realize that your value to an employer varies heavily from place to place. So let’s look at some salary guide websites:
One pay survey site you do not want to check is USAToday’s salary list for major league baseball, because it will make you cry over having gone into the wrong line of work.
The lowest average team payroll is the Pittsburgh Pirates, with a median player salary of $450,000. And the lowest-paid player they have, shortstop Josh Rodriguez, gets $414,000.
Ah, well. It could be worse. The median salary for a nursing assistant in the United States is $26,608. That’s with experience.
Sometimes, even if it’s not pro baseball, IT looks like a pretty good field to be in. Doesn’t it?]]>
So this isn’t a one-month statistical blip. It’s a serious shift in IT employment.
Foote says, “The trend of employers no longer wishing to employ large numbers of their own full-timers in what are mostly pure technology IT jobs has been building over a very long period of time.” We now have managed services, offshoring, and “the cloud,” all of which cut the need for traditional (or at least traditionally-titled) IT workers.
But, says Foote, “by far the biggest force of all shaping change in jobs and in the overall composition of the IT workforce has been the fact that the role of information technology in the enterprise is now so pervasive that managing it is distributed throughout the enterprise.”
So over here you have a couple of people in the marketing department who just happen to have mad IT skillz. And over there you have a few who are pretty good programmers but are part of a mechanical engineering team instead of being locked behind a door with a sign on it that says, “Here There Be Programmers.”
Foote says his research shows that these “multiskilled IT-business specialists outnumber the traditionally skilled IT workforce by roughly four to one.”
But the federal government’s job statistics haven’t caught up with this shift in IT employment practices, so all we know about these new multiskilled IT-business specialists is that there are a whole bunch of them — he estimates around 20 million — out there, and that government agencies undercount them because they don’t fit into traditional job pigeonholes.
“Does this mean I should go back to school?”
Maybe it does. If there’s an employment field outside of IT that winds your stem, check it out. If you’re interested in marketing, Foote says you should look at marketing studies — or at getting some direct marketing experience, which is better to have in today’s business climate than a degree or other “paper” certification.
But whatever you do, be glad that you’re in a field where demand isn’t dropping the way it is for, say, American (and even Chinese) furniture factory workers.
A little adroit resume-wrangling, coupled, perhaps, with a willingness to move, can make a person with IT experience and skills among the most employable and best-paid workers in the world.
Link: Foote Partners study quoted above.]]>
A classic problem — and the one Joanne’s company helps doctors and hospitals solve — is sharing clinical data, which seems to be a serious head-scratcher for people in the medical business. You might think that if you get your blood drawn, and a lab performs a test on your blood, any doctor, clinic or hospital that treats you can access the results of that test and also learn that you are allergic to peanuts, latex, penicillin or whatever. But the doctors and their suppliers seem to be mystified by the idea of using standard data formats so they can easily share patient information with each other.
And they whine a lot about meeting stringent HIPAA privacy requirements.
But Joanne — who was COO of Red Hat Software and before that was a financial industry data processing hotshot — points out that keeping medical information private really isn’t hard; the financial industry has had something called SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) for a number of decades now, and it obviously works rather well.
The system is obviously rather secure, since you can use your debit card in an ATM owned by a bank where you don’t have an account without any problems, and it is a ho-hum no-brainer to have your income tax refund deposited directly into your account at almost any U.S. financial institution.
Interoperability was solved by the financial industry as a matter of self-interest, and the transition to electronic banking was so smooth that most bank customers barely noticed that it was going on, except for the amazing (and continuing) proliferation of ATMs.
But the medical industry? Doctors seem to need endless hand-holding — and $40 billion worth of government subsidies — to build an industry-wide clinical information sharing system. In other words, they need your help.
Right now, Joanne says, in early 2011, hospitals and medical practices are looking at practice management software and trying to figure out what to buy. Next year, “they will actually do their migrations.” And she believes the best job opportunities are with hospitals, hospital chains, and medical industry software vendors, not with your local doctor or group medical practice.
The hospitals, she says, “have money to spend. They’ve almost all gone to their boards and gotten some IT budget going.”
What about the IT people they already have? “Historically,” says Joanne,”they’ve had small IT systems, almost all payment focused, so they have no people with experience in complex workflow systems.”
In other words, your experience implementing SAP, Peoplesoft, Oracle or even Salesforce can be a big deal to a hospital or clinic, even if you think this experience is so hum-drum that it’s barely worth noting on a resume or in an interview.
The vendors in the medical field may have different names than the ones you’re used to, but the implementations are similar.
And, says Joanne, “the work takes exactly the same skillsets,” so you should have no trouble jumping right into a health care IT job that pays at least as much as the IT job you have now — and that may offer a lot more opportunity for advancement in coming years.]]>