IT Career JumpStart

Mar 23 2009   3:42PM GMT

It’s COLD Out Here/There…

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

In a classic exercise known as “eat your own dogfood” — by which I mean practicing what I’m preaching about hunting for contract and full-time employment by signing up at resume and job-hunting sites — I’ve been taking a pretty serious shellacking at the hands of recruiters and hiring managers lately. “It’s OK,” I console myself by saying, “I really don’t want those jobs anyway,” but man it really hurts to see one’s market value decline along with the rest of the economy. Let me explain…

I’ve signed up directly at various job shopping/resume sites, and also through my memberships at Facebook and LinkedIn, to see what the job market is like on a personal basis these days. So far, I’ve found perhaps a dozen positions for which my qualifications match sufficiently for employers to be at least theoretically interested in talking to me, if not actually interested in doing so. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve experienced so far from these twelve positions:

  • So far, no reponse at all for 8 of the online applications has occurred, for intervals between one and three weeks since my indication of e-interest. I’ve been careful to provide cover letters and current resumes in all cases, and have also received electronic tokens of receipt for these applications, so it’s clear they’re not simply floating in the ether never having been received.
  • I’ve gotten calls from two recruiters, both of whom have offered half (or slightly less) of the minimum hourly or salary rate that I carefully included in each of my applications. It’s very much a first for me to be approached when such a profound mismatch exists between my stated hourly or salary needs and the rates the hiring or contracting company is willing to pay.
  • I’ve gotten electronic messages from two employers, both indicating that my application is under review, and they’ll get back to me if and when they decide my qualifications and their requirements warrant further discussion or conversation. Other than that, nada!

I’m guessing this is typical for the current market. Conventional wisdom holds that it takes one month for every $10,000 in annual salary that a person wishes to earn to conclude a successful job search. At my preferred level of compensation that means it should take me at least a year to find a job. So far, all indications are that the time horizon is further stretched than that, if anything.

The most telling evidence of the state of the market is that recruiters are calling when they know they’re low-balling contract or salary demands. The one contract job I was offered came with an hourly rate that I exceeded (based on converting salary to hourly by dividing yearly earnings by 2,000, a not atypical conversion approach, though 1,000 makes more sense with what benefits cost when you cover them yourself these days) in 1984! Needless to say, I simply informed the recruiter that I wasn’t interested in the work at that rate of pay, and left it at that. The salaried position I was offered got me into the early 1990s given the 2,000 conversion value, but was still about 1/3 lower than I would be willing to start commuting for, were I  to accept such a position.

That’s the way it goes in the 2009 economy. Please share your war stories, too, and I’ll chime in again from time to time with status on this situation. It’s interesting, depressing, and potentially terrifying, depending on what other income streams you have at your disposal. In my case, I’m still staying busy enough as a full-time freelancer to keep the wolf from the door, but for others…well, you tell me: how’s it going out there?

3  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Txitninja
    I hear you...I applied to about 5 jobs since January...haven't heard from any of them. I was reading that the hiring companies/organizations have been overwhelmed with applications from out-of-state candidates. It's tough out there...I'm just thankful to have a job. -Juan, Austin TX
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    Ed, this report reaffirms my decision not to seek a new position upon receiving my CMBA. I've been second-guessing myself every now and then, given the shop I work for has gone to 7-hour days, but now I have reason to believe I made a good decision. It's simply not worth the risk of losing this position to find a new one. Thanks for putting yourself out there for our benefit!
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  • Ed Tittel
    Yes, Suzanne and Juan: it is kind of scary out there right now. Standing pat may not only be smart, it may also be the only option available to those lucky enough to have a job right now. What's the point in going out looking, when the only thing you're certain to find is trouble? --Ed--
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