December 17, 2012 6:06 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
OK, here’s one for your browser bookmarks or favorites from eBizMBA. It’s entitled “Top 15 Most Popular Job Websites” and it’s updated monthly based on Web traffic analysis. Those number draw from each site’s Alexa Global Traffic Rank, as well as US traffic rank data from Compete and Quantcast. The December 2012 rankings run like this, but the reason for capturing the site’s URL is to let you tune in to the current month’s ranking any time you like:
|December 2012 Job Site Rankings (Alexa rank in parens)
|1. Monster (267)
||8. Job.com (1,580)
|2. CareerBuilder (286)
||9. theLadders (3,126)
|3. Indeed (252)
||10. Dice (3,405)
|4. Simplyhired (638)
||11. FindTheRightJob (4,346)
|5. AOL Jobs (1,340)
||12. Bright (6,191)
|6. Snagajob (1,430)
||13. JobBankUSA (7,227)
|7. USAJobs (1,432)
||14. EmploymentGuide (7,902)
||15. vault (13,672)
FWIW, my own research often involves matching up job titles with salaries. For that purpose, I find Indeed to be particularly useful, because it provides salary data for all positions its lists, and I’ve been able to use that information repeatedly to estimate average salaries for lots of different IT positions. I’m only familiar with just over half the sites on this list, but the numbers don’t lie: lots of people are using them, so surely they are good for something! Check this list out for yourself, and be sure to add the eBiz MBA ranking URL to your collection (you’ll find lots of useful lists of this type on the eBiz MBA site in fact, including link compendia for most-visited reference, blog, HTML5, social networking, and other interesting types of Websites).
December 14, 2012 5:03 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
In a nice follow-up to last week’s better-than-expected employment situation summary from the US Bureau of Labor statistics — which showed job creation at 146,000 and unemployment at relatively modest 7.7 percent (see my post from last Friday for the details) — this week’s first time claims for unemployment dropped by 29,000 to 343,000 for the week ending December 8, 2012. Most economists were forecasting something in the neighborhood of 370,000 (according to the Bloomberg survey median), so this comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise. The less volatile four-week moving average confirms the trend, however, with a dip from 408,500 to 381,500 for the four most recent weeks versus those from the four week stretch that ended on December 1.
It’s not yet time for wild celebration, but things aren’t entirely grim and dismal either
What’s behind these numbers? In part, it has to stem from seasonal hiring for holiday retail and food service workers, as is typical for this time of year. On the other hand, many economists point to overall trends as indicative of continuing modest improvements to economic health, as well as showing that Hurricane Sandy didn’t wallop employment as hard as it hit East Coast beaches.
On the flip side, the numbers for those who’ve used up traditional unemployment benefits and are collecting either extended or emergency payments jumped by 189,000 to 2.23 million for the week ending November 27 (that’s about an 8.5% jump, which is pretty significant). This tells me that our unemployment overhang — that is the number of people out of work who would already be working if they could find a job — has by no means been absorbed into the workforce. Methinks this population will take years to settle out, simply because the rate of job creation is not yet vigorous enough to accommodate all the recent graduates and new entrants into the workforce, along with those who’ve been sidelined and are also trying to get back in the game.
All in all, though, things don’t look as grim to me as this year draws to a close as they have since 2008, when the dark cloud of recession showed that it also had a dark lining for employment. I’m not inclined to be wildly optimistic about what 2013 holds, but I can be slightly upbeat and believe that our slow, modest recovery will continue limping along — but only if our politicians can forswear the suicidal sport of cliff-diving!
December 7, 2012 3:05 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Modest but still surprising improvement in job creation and overall unemployment for November 2012.
As I was listening to NPR this morning, I heard a couple of economists opine that when the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released its jobs report for November, jobs added could be as low as 75,000 for that month, and unemployment might also edge up again as a consequence. The general consensus appeared to be that there was “no way” November numbers could approach the October level of 171,000 because of the hurricane, low consumer confidence, and business concerns about the looming fiscal cliff. But when the latest report hit the wires at 8:30 AM Eastern, its contents flew in the face of these prognostications: jobs created for November are reported at 146,000 and unemployment edged down slightly from 7.9 to 7.7 percent. In fact, a closer look at revisions to the October numbers shows a drop from 171,000 as originally reported, to an adjusted figure of 138,000. Barring future adjustments for this month’s numbers, then, it looks right now like November actually beat October by a modest margin of 8,000 jobs.
For the information sector, some signs of improvement were present: whereas unemployment was 225,000 or 7.4 percent for this sector one year ago (November 2011), it dropped to 187,000 or 6.8 percent for November 2012 (Table A-14). That puts information sector unemployment below the general unemployment number for this month, and shows a modestly strengthening information jobs situation. The strongest growth sectors centered around retail (+52,000 for clothing, accessories, general merchandise, and electronics and appliance stores) and the wholesale trade (+10,000) as you’d expect in the run-up to the year’s busiest shopping season. This may portend a corresponding dip in those same numbers in January, however, once the shopping season reaches its frenzied conclusion during the sales immediately after Christmas.
Maybe we just got a handful of hard candies in our Christmas stockings, instead of the expected lump of coal? Given this surprising but still modest uptick in employment figures, the markets are expected to react positively today. Let’s just hope there aren’t other unpleasant employment surprises in store. For now, though, there seems to be a small ray of sunshine on that landscape, even though my advice to IT workers still remains “Stay put. Be cool. Hunker down.” We aren’t out of the woods just yet, and it isn’t clear if the repast at Grandma’s will be the usual Christmas ham, or a steaming mess of hamburger helper instead.
December 5, 2012 3:31 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Much to my surprise, I saw a Twitter item from GoCertify.com that informed me that the MS Press Exam Ref title is out for 70-417: Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012. Prosaically enough, this book is entitled Exam Ref 70-417: Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012 (Amazon $24.53, O’Reilly $35.99 ebook, $39.99 print, $43.99 both).
MS Press manages to shoehorn 3-exam-coverage into a single, slim book.
I’m impressed by several things about this book release:
- It comes pretty early in the overall release cycle, and covers all three MCSA: Windows Server 2012 exams (70-410, 70-411, and 70-412) in just 384 pages. The 70-410 book is out, but titles for 70-411 and 70-412 from MS Press/O’Reilly aren’t due out until April, 2013 — not coincidentally, the same time that the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 Cert Prep Pack is also due for release.
- It’s the only full-blown 70-417 book currently on Amazon’s radar.
- It’s a great way to get a sense for the overall coverage for the entire MCSA: Windows Server 2012 curriculum in book form right now.
As I blogged back in October (MS Offers Free 70-417 Jump Start…), the half-dozen certs listed in this screencap from the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 cert page qualify holders to take the 70-417 exam to upgrade those credentials:
MCSA: Windows Server 2008
MCITP: Virtualization Administrator
MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator
MCITP: Lync Server Administrator
MCITP: SharePoint Administrator
MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator
For those folks who hold one or more of these credentials, the 70-417 is a killer proposition, not only because it provides a single-exam upgrade path to the MCSA: Windows Server 2012, but also because that single exam costs the same $150 that all other MS Cert exams cost nowadays. Sort of a “three-for-one” pricing deal, if you ask me. If you qualify, be sure to check it out!
December 3, 2012 4:28 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
TrainSignal Training is a reasonably big and fairly successful purveyor of training videos for a wide range of IT certification programs including Apple, Cisco, Citrix, CompTIA, Microsoft, VMware, and even the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) curriculum. Their courses aren’t dirt-cheap (they usually run $300 and up) but their videos offer strong production values, articulate and experienced instructors, and good coverage of certification topics, tools, and technologies. They’ve been around for a decade now, and have built a reputation as a purveyor of IT cert training materials that manage a very good combination of value and coverage. They also offer a regular blog to which they post almost daily, that I enjoy reading from time to time. Upon a recent visit, I discovered this banner on the blog’s home page:
Warning: the download button shown actually takes you to a registration page where you provide e-mail contact info, and you’ll get a link to a PDF download by e-mail pretty soon thereafter. I guess you can’t blame TrainSignal for wanting to harvest potential customer leads in exchange for some interesting and potentially valuable content, but I think it would have been clearer as to what was involved if they had labeled the button “Request download via email” or something along those lines. That’s a minor beef, however, because what you get in exchange for jumping through the registration hoops is a 14-page document entitled “Ultimate Guide: Job Search Writing for IT Professionals (A Step-by-Step Guide to Writiting Effective Resumes and Cover Letters).”
Here’s a snapshot of the table of contents that appears on the front page of this Guide:
It’s pretty useful coverage on an always interesting set of topics — namely, writing resumes and cover letters, with a little bit more on a so-called “letter of interest” and even follow-up material that addresses typical communications that may occur after an interview request is made (interview schedule, travel request, interview agenda, and thank you notes post interview). This useful guide is the work of Alan Ackmann, an instructor of Business and Technical Writing at DePaul University in Chicago, and his breadth of knowledge and experience are on heavy display throughout the guide. He addresses all the key topics in a straight-forward, no-nonsense tone (for example, his discussion of “Cover Letters for Unique Situations” tackles subjects that include career changers, people with gaps in their work histories or who are currently unemployed, and how best to respond to requests for salary requirements and history information).
This is a very nice piece of work, and should be of interest to most IT pros. Unless you’re lucky enough to work in a place where lifetime employment is possible, you’re going to need to deal with all of this stuff at some point in the future. That’s when access to this Guide will be handy, so you might as well register with TrainSignal and grab yourself a copy sooner rather than later.
[Full Disclosure: I am currently negotiating with TrainSignal about creating some editorial content for their Website. Believe it or not, this has nothing to do with my selection of their "ultimate guide" as a blog topic here. I simply collect such resources as part of keeping my own blog current, and when I find a good one, I like to share it with my readers. This is another case in point. However, given the possibility of a business relationship between TrainSignal and myself, I feel that good blogging ethics require me to tell you about this possibility. I will follow up right here to let you know if that relationship is actually formed or not. --Ed--]
November 30, 2012 4:33 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
A couple of days ago, a guest post of mine appeared on Anne Martinez’ excellent GoCertify.com website. Entitled “Putting Your Certs to Work on the Job Hunt,” it dispenses advice on how best to describe and position your IT certifications in the context of a professional resume and cover letter when conducting a job search or job application process. The guiding principle is to provide additional information — in the form of keywords or hot “search phrases” — that will help HR professionals and search engines match up job candidates who possess certain desirable skills and knowledge with positions for which they would be well-suited. This makes it easier for humans who may not know all the details about specific certifications — say, the MCSE: Private Cloud, for example — to understand what people who’ve earned such credentials know, understand, and can do. It also makes it straightforward for search engines — say, on a resume posting site like Monster, Dice, or Indeed — to match people up with various skills and subject matters associated with specific job postings.
If you’ll jump onto Anne’s site and take a quick read over my posting for her, you’ll see my detailed examples of how to use buzzwords and search phrases with the MCSE: Private Cloud as the focus for such illustration, too. It shows how to use the right platform and product names, along with specific in-demand skills. This is further amplified in the lengthier description I also provide for that certification suitable for inclusion in a cover letter, which also documents some hypothetical — but very ordinary — project experience relevant to implementation and use of those subject matters as well.
All in all, you’ll find some potentially useful and informative language and coverage in that posting. Please check it out, and let me know if you’d like to add anything to that material, and I’ll be happy to add it in, either on GoCertify through Anne, or here as an addendum to this very post.
November 28, 2012 3:39 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Microsoft runs a very successful academic outreach program for training and certification known as the Microsoft IT Academy. Not only does the program include a specialized series of entry-level credentials specifically aimed at high school and community college students called the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate), it also encompasses the MCSA, MCSE and MCSD credentials in their professional certification programs and the MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) credentials from its business workplace curriculum as well.
Just recently I learned that Microsoft Learning has put together a peachy infographic that summarizes and organizes their IT Academy offerings, thanks to Lorna White’s recent post to its Born to Learn blog entitled “Infographic: Microsoft IT Academy Certification Roadmap.” Realizing that the vast majority of readers of this blog are past their high school or college days, you might be inclined to ask “Why is Ed telling me this?”
Good question! I’m talking about this infographic here because it’s one of the best visual depictions of Microsoft’s first three tiers of certification (MTA –> MCSA –> MCSE + MCSD with a side order of MOS) that I’ve ever seen anywhere. Anyone looking for a little clarity on what’s out there, and how the pieces fit together is bound to find the infographic worth a look-see. Even the illegible thumbnail I inserted at the head of this blog post is evocative, if not terribly informative. But if you want to see the infographic in its fullest (and most readable) form, you’ll need to grab this PDF download to peruse it at your leisure. Do please check it out: it’s pretty interesting.
November 26, 2012 3:43 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Upon checking in with the MS Learning Born to Learn blog this morning, I discovered a 19 November post from Psychometrician and Cert Exam Maven Liberty Munson entitled “Everything You Wanted to Know about Beta Exams: Part 2 (Beta Availability).” It includes some extremely interesting news that led me straight to my own tongue-in-cheek title for today’s blog post from yours truly. Revealing the punchline will take a little explaining, so please bear with me. Here’s the nub of what’s going on, quoted verbatim from Ms. Munson’s post: “…given the limited number of free beta seats and the overwhelming demand for some technologies, we have decided to leave beta exams in market until the [final, republished] exam is live.” In other words, it used to be the case that you had to get an invite from Microsoft to participate in a beta exam, but when you did get such an invite, the exam was free. Now, you can take the beta exam right up until the final polished version goes live, but you have to pay for it just like any other Microsoft exam (which is usually $150 in the US, or equivalent in other currencies outside the US where applicable).
[Business image: Shutterstock 48434181]
The good news, bad news part is best understood as follows:
- The primary purpose of a beta exam is to distinguish statistically significant questions from statistically insignificant ones, where those that fall in the first category distinguish those who know their stuff from those who don’t in a measurable way, and those that fall in the second category are either too hard (nobody gets them right) or too easy (everybody gets them right) to be counted. Thus, some percentage of questions you will answer on a beta exam won’t contribute to your score.
- Any number of questions that appear on the beta will be stricken from the final, polished version of the exam that gets a 70-xxx exam number (beta exams are numbered 71-xxx). Munson’s blog mention that questions may be stricken “…because they are psychometrically unsound, unclear/ambiguous, or technically inaccurate…” This means you’ll want to be ready for a wider range of weirdness than usual, when you sit down to take a beta exam as opposed to a published and polished one.
- If you take the beta exam for a fee, but early in the post-free period while the results are being analyzed and tabulated, cut scores determined, good questions kept in and bad ones tossed out, you still have to wait quite a while to get your exam results (almost as long, in fact, as those who took the free beta, and for the same reasons).
Nevertheless, for those who want or need to get in on certification as early as possible when and as new exams appear, I believe this is mostly a good news scenario, simply because it accelerates the time-frame during which you can attempt — and possibly even get credit for — hot new topics as they make their debuts. Certainly for folks like me who write about cert exams, this is great news, because if we can sit for a beta exam it tells us a lot more about what the exam developers are thinking a lot sooner than waiting to take the cleaned-up version once it is released. And with many Exam Crams and other study guides seeking to hit the market as close to exam release dates as possible, this is a real boon to folks who make their livings by helping exam candidates learn and understand necessary concepts, tools, and technologies to help them prepare for the final version when it hits the streets.
November 21, 2012 4:46 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
New Banner Art for CCNA Data Center and CCNP Data Center
Yesterday (11/20/2012) Cisco accounced new data center oriented CCNA and CCNP credentials, to flesh out its data center line-up (a data center CCIE made its debut last March). These new credentials come in two different flavors, each weaving together important foundation elements from the Cisco data center architecture:
- Cisco Unified Computing: a system that unites computing, networking, storage access and virtualization inside a cohesive and consistent system.
- Cisco Unified Fabric: simplifies infrastructure and controls costs through consolidating traffic on a single, general-purpose, high-performance and high-availability network.
Interestingly, neither the CCNA Data Center nor the CCNP Data Center come with base-level cert pre-requisites — that is, it is not necessary to first earn a base-level CCNA to earn the CCNA Data Center, nor a base-level CCNP to earn the CCNP Data Center (though the CCNA Data Center is a pre-req for the CCNP Data Center, as it should be). The role of the foundation elements in the certs — namely unified computing and unified fabric — is designed to permit candidates to customize their data center educations, to focus on data center job roles that include design, implementation, and troubleshooting.
The CCNA Data Center defines the entry level Cisco data center certification, and aim to identify individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to perform day-to-day tasks in a data center, including network and server virtualization, plus storage and IP networking convergence. CCNP Data Center sits one notch higher in the food chain, and aims to identify individuals with the skills and knowledge to work as data center designers, or as high-level data center networking practitioners. Topics covered include design, implementation, and troubleshooting virtualized computing environments built around the Cisco UCS platform, including storage and network connectivity, memory, adapter and connectivity and booting issues, drivers, BIOS, and more.
With data center numbers, sizes, and usage levels all exploding — the Cisco Global Cloud Index projects that global data center IP traffic will hit 6.6 zettabytes by 2016 — demand for qualified and competent data center professionals is likewise ascending a steep upward slope. That makes these credentials particularly worth digging into, and possibly even pursuing. Exams and training courses are all publicly available, and readers can expect to see follow-on book titles from publishers like Cisco Press some time in Q1 2013. Check out the CCNA Data Center and CCNP Data Center home pages for more information.