IT Career JumpStart

Mar 11 2009   4:13PM GMT

In Today’s Job Market, Prospective Employers Want It All



Posted by: Ed Tittel
Tags:
adult education
advanced degrees
certification ladder
college degrees
continuing education
IT career planning
IT careers
IT certification
job experience
job seeking skills
soft skills

I was just musing on the state of the current job market, where it’s not unfair to say that there are a lot more people chasing jobs than there are jobs chasing people. Once again, I find myself pondering the “Big Three’ ingredients that all employers consider when selecting among multiple applicants for any IT position, as must surely be the case with so many IT professionals pursuing (or trying to remain in) a shrinking pool of jobs:

  • Education: In today’s market a bachelor’s is no longer a “nice-to-have” credential. As a gifted but undegreed colleague and occasional co-worker of mine has learned several times to his loss in the last 6 months, a degree of some kind is often required just to be considered for any kind of IT position nowadays. Add points for an MA, more points for an MBA, Masters in Science and Engineering, and still more for any kind of PhD. Going back to school, and adding degrees nearly always results in a payoff, says everybody from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to compensation specialists like David Foote of Foote and Associates.
  • Technical qualifications/Certifications: Though not all technical qualifications result in certification, certs are probably the best-recognized example of this type of “tangible technical training and achievement” category. But in this case, perceived (high) value and distinctness are also important. An MCP, CCNA, any CompTIA cert, and other entry level credentials have become must-have checkbox items for many IT positions. It’s the harder-to-earn and scarcer credentials like CCIE, CISSP, and SAP certs that open eyes–and doors to new positions. Increasingly this means earning entry level certs aggressively, and treating them like the stepping stones they’ve become, then stepping up to higher rungs in cert ladders to earn recognition, increased opportunities, and better pay.
  • Experience: This is still the king of the IT job qualification hill. Direct, documented, and substantial experience with the tools and technologies that companies use, need, or wish to invest in still trumps the other two items when employers look for differentiation among otherwise similar candidates.

But the problem with a buyer’s market is that an abundance of candidates to choose from means that employers can become extremely selective about whom they’ll bring on board to fill open positions. Hence my point for this blog (and its title): given the situation, employers want real stars who’ve got depth in all three areas. That means advanced degrees, serious certifications, and lots of direct relevant experience are what it takes to get through the door and on board these days. That means we all have to be looking for ways to address these concerns and to convince prospective employers we’ve got the chops to do the job, whether or not we can claim to max out in all three categories!

2  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Janec
    One could say that employers are spoiled for choice these days as there are many more aspirants than there are jobs. Also, with organizations slimming their staff like never before, employers are looking to hire people who have expertise in a wide range of technical areas. One way to stay on top of your competition is to acquire certifications and degrees that’ll boost your skill set. You can choose from [A href="http://www.collegeamerica.edu/computer-degrees.html"]computer degrees[/A] offered by colleges such as College America to build on your knowledge base. These degrees are offered at both bachelors and associate level.
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  • Ed Tittel
    Dear Janec: Yes, indeed! It's more than fair to say that employment is currently a buyer's market -- or perhaps more correctly an employer's market at present. I hope 2010 will see the situation become more balanced, so that more unemployed IT professionals can get back to work, and so that the best and brightest will have more opportunities for promotions, job changes, and so forth. In the meantime, a happy holiday season to you and your family, along with a safe, prosperous and joyous 2010. Best, --Ed--
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