February 12, 2014 3:41 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
HBR articles tackles US self-employment in detail
, US self-employment hard to measure and predict
, US self-employment rising
Who says Facebook is all networking and no content? Not me! It led me to this excellent blog from the Harvard Business Review by Justin Fox entitled “Where Are All the Self-Employed Workers?“ This story has the best-informed and most intelligent discussion of the self-employment situation in the USA that I’ve ever seen anywhere.
Tracking the self-employed requires looking at lots of data, some of which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) hasn’t tracked very long or very well.
Among the many interesting stats that Fox reports are that the self-employed population for 2000 is about the same as it is at the end of 2013 — namely, 14.4 million, of which 9.2 million are unincorporated, and the remaining 5.2 million are incorporated. The preceding graph also appears to show a downward trend in the larger population of unincorporated self-employed, a conclusion with which Fox takes some issue, along with the measurement instrument that the BLS uses to track self-employment totals (its Current Population Survey, also called “the household survey” tallies responses from 60,000 households, and raises the question “Last week were you employed by government, by a private company, a non-profit organization, or were you self-employed?”).
The problem with the question, as Fox puts it, is that “this either/or choice excludes a lot of people who are doing independent work on the side, or whose jobs are really more like [ongoing] gigs.” He goes onto cite another survey from MBO Partners (a company that provides support services for non-traditional workers) that counts temporaries, on-call workers, and those on fixed-term contracts as “independent workers.” Their count raises the toal number of self-employed to around 17.7 million for 2013, which is up 10% from 16 million in 2011. Other sources have different numbers, too:
- The Freelancers Union reports 42 million independent workers, based on a 2006 GAO report that claimed 42.6 million so-called “contingent workers,” a term they used to mean “agency temporary workers (temps), direct-hire temps, on-call workers, day laborers, contract company workers, independent contractors, self-employed workers, and standard part-time workers.” That’s about a third of the workforce overall.
- Dan Pink analyses the Census Bureau’s annual count of so-called “nonemployer businesses” (sole proprietorships, DBAs, and other ways of reporting business income on personal tax forms which is taken from tax return data, and shows totals rising from around 17 million such outfits in 2002 to a level of around 22-23 million for 2011).
It all adds up to more people and more kinds of “self-employment” in today’s labor market than the BLS is currently counting. Fox goes on to cite MBO Partners once again, to share their projection that by 2020 “70 million people, more than 50 percent of the private workforce, will be independent” (which is to say, they will fall into the category of “contingent worker” as outlined above, which I’m also equating with “independent worker”). Their current research indicates that there are currently 17.7 million independent workers in the US, and that population has a 5 percent annual growth rate. A straight line projection indicates that this prevailing rate would produce a population of around 25 million by 2020, so MBO obviously believes that another 45 million US workers are going to take the plunge into independent work mode in the next six years, above and beyond such simple accretion.
What follows next in Fox’s story is a terrific analysis of the composition and the history of the self-employed (or “independent worker”) labor market in the USA since the beginning of the 20th century. He also chews on some Census Data for the present day (2001 onwards) as recast by Economic Modeling Specialists (a subsidiary of CareerBuilder.com) that shows various categories of self-employment growing, but often at the low-end of the wage and education scales. This is then offset by analysis of the incorporated self-employed, and an attempt to impose a more coherent structure on the oodles of categories that the government (BLS) uses to categorize occupations. He finds growth in interesting areas like that for “Musicians and Singers,” but also “Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors,” “Editors,” “Web Developers,” and “Mental Health Counselors.”
All in all it adds up to a much more interesting and nuanced view of the self-employment situation in the USA than I’m used to seeing. If this is something you already do, or might be considering in the future (and the numbers indicate that this applies to anywhere from one third to one half of the general population) you owe it to yourself to read over this excellent article.
February 10, 2014 2:36 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
gaffes to avoid in job application materials
, resume errors to avoid
Saw a great story by long-time career and business writer, Lisa Vaas, this morning (she’s also a fellow member of the Internet Press Guild) this morning over at TheLadders.com. It’s entitled “13 Ways Your Resume Can Say ‘I’m Unprofessional,” and it includes some pretty humorous examples to illustrate her points, as well as some great advice on avoiding resume gaffes throughout.
The best way to present yourself positively in a resume or other job application materials is to avoid errors and other gaffes.
[Image credit: Shutterstock 110459147 © Rafal Olechowski]
Here’s a list of her bullet points, which capture the essence of the story (but if you’re interested in more details, you’d be well-advised to read it in full in the original text):
1. Random/cute/shared e-mail accounts: Sure, lots of email accounts are free and you can name them pretty much anything you like. But everything registers with prospective employers, so it’s only smart to avoid oddball, eccentric, or inappropriate e-mail addresses on your resume.
2. Failure to proofread: You’re supposed to put your very best foot forward in any job application materials, so it’s smart to subject your resume (and cover letter, and anything else you share with prospective employers) to multiple rounds of searching and clean-up. This goes double for people who work in editorial, quality control, project management, or other jobs that focus on getting things right, as well as other technical competencies.
3. Bikini pictures: Vaas goes so far as to observe that some employers toss all job app materials that include photos to avoid any possibility of discrimination, but focuses primarily on inappropriate or unflattering snapshots or photos (including snaps of applicants in bathing dress).
4. Unprofessional voicemail: If you leave a phone number for contact purposes, make sure anyone who answers that line knows how to respond appropriately to prospective employers, and if necessary, change your voicemail message to something sedate and professional-sounding. Again: everything counts when it’s made available to prospective employers.
5. (Avoid) Lazy words (e.g.) ‘etc.’: One of the experts with whom Vaas spoke for the story opined that “…use of ‘etc.’ on a resume is a sign of laziness.” If you’re going to include something on a resume or cover letter, it should be important enough to list out in detail. If not, skip it! Don’t use shortcuts on such materials, also including “Same as above,” “Ditto,” or other attempts to reduce word count, because it suggests you lack hustle or a strong work ethic.
6. Cookie-cutter resumes: A pet peeve among many hiring managers is when resumes fail to take serious cognizance of particular positions, job requirements, situations, and so forth. It’s essential to review your resume and cover letter for each individual application, and to highlight elements relevant to the job at hand, while tuning back on other elements that have no bearing on that position. When it comes to job application materials, one size most definitely does not fit all jobs.7. Everything but the kitchen sink: There’s no need to provide one’s complete life story in a job application, especially not in the resume. This is a case of “less is more” rather than “more is better,” where it’s a good thing to keep your resume at or under two pages, and where one page is even better.
The remaining items in the story are purely bullet points, lacking detailed discussion so I’ll reproduce them as such next:
8. Do not list a spouse as a reference
9. Spell out complete names of employers or schools: don’t use acronyms or abbreviations
10. Always provide city and/or state for employers and schools
11. Always include area codes with phone numbers, especially in references or for employers
12. If you identify a former supervisor or a professional or personal reference, provide more than the first name (full names, please!)
13. Don’t include phone numbers that are no longer in service, or URLs that lead nowhere, in your job app materials
In general the idea is to be professional, complete, accurate, and up-to-date in your resume and other job application materials. Anything less could (and probably will) lessen your chances of landing the job for which you’re applying.
February 7, 2014 3:06 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
, more slow employment growth for Jan '14
Hey, hey: please chant along with me until you get dizzy and fall over: “Slow growth mode! Slow growth mode! Slow growth mode!” Even though the December numbers were revised upward from 74 to 75 thousand, the January numbers failed to approach the consensus forecast of 170-185,000 I heard on NPR this morning, and came in at around 113,000 instead. I jumped up to the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) to see if this had impacted the markets as yet, but the index has been up all morning (it’s currently up +76.9 as of my most recent peek) so it’s probably fair to say that the markets have priced this into their overall behavior.
The latest figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics are less than forecast, but very much in keeping with painfully slow growth.
Unemployment rates are also largely unchanged at 6.6 percent overall, and the count of the long-term unemployed still comes in at over 3.5 million. The latest Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that long-term unemployment has declined by 1.1 million over the past year, but if I understand their reporting mechanisms correctly this has as much or more to do with discouraged workers in this category leaving the workforce as it actually has to do with some of them finding work, either part- or full-time.
The Information sector from Table A-14 is unchanged from December, and shows unemployment at 6.6 percent for that sector, entirely in synch with the overall average figure. If there’s one ray of sunshine in the most recent report it appears in the summary section where employment in professional and business services (which has some relationship to IT, though more likely for contract workers or consultants than full-time employees) added 36,000 jobs for January, and where that sector added an average of 55,000 jobs per month for all of 2013. But in case you already didn’t know, my long-standing mantra for IT pros remains: “Stay put. Hunker down.” Sigh. I’d hoped that 2014 would show a breakout into less ambiguous and more generous growth. At least, there are still 11 more months to report for this year, so there’s time for things to improve.
February 5, 2014 3:19 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Cisco Learning offers interesting cert resources for transitioning military
The Cisco Learning Network’s got a “Military” web page set up especially for transitioning or ex-military personnel, with some interesting info, and pointers to some “Special Military Programs.” These are worth investigating, not just because of the specific Cisco-oriented information they provide, but also because they make mention of specific military operation and service codes that map readily into civilian IT jobs.
Though not all vets and transitioning military may want or need to pursue Cisco certs per se, these Cisco resource provide useful info and pointers.
Under a heading of “Special Military Programs” readers can learn more about the Joining Forces Initiative and the Michigan Shift Careers: Networking Certifications Program for Military Servicemembers. The former is particularly interesting because it maps the career designation “Network and Computer Systems Administrator” to the following table of Military Operation and Service Codes:
Each of the major branches of the military has codes that map into network/systems admin training — and jobs.
Even for those who may not be interested in pursuing Cisco credentials (perhaps they’re more inclined to chase down Juniper or Fortinet stuff instead, or perhaps they’d rather dig into Red Hat or other Linux sysadmin credentials), these mappings are still useful to help them figure out how their military MOS codes might lead them into network and systems administration jobs in IT.
February 3, 2014 2:35 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
huge collection of free MS reference and learning e-books
, IT careers
In poking around the Born to Learn blog this morning, I discovered a TechNet page entitled “E-Book Gallery for Microsoft Technologies.” The blurb for the page reads “Download content for ASP.NET, Office, SQL Server, Windows Azure, SharePoint Server and other Microsoft technologies in e-book formats. Reference, guide, and step-by-step information are all available.”
The header for this TechNet Wiki page precedes a massive collection of free e-books and other great reference and learning material.
Originally posted in June 2012, the listing was most recently updated last Friday (1/31/2014) and now also includes information on Lync Server, System Center, Visual Studio, Windows 7 and 8, Windows Phone, Windows Server 2012, and even Career advice. There are over 100 free downloadable items here, including at least a dozen lengthy reference guides for most of the platforms covered. It’s a real treasure trove of free material, much of it suitable for exam preparation or basic learning for IT pros. Be sure to check it out yourself, and take advantage of such items as may interest you. Amazing!
January 31, 2014 4:14 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
20 certs may warrant big raises for 2014
, IT careers
I love finding surveys, stats, and wish lists related to IT jobs and certifications. They’re always interesting, they often have useful things to say, and there’s always a catch (or two) involved in interpreting their proclamations. The ITBusinessEdge slideshow entitled “Twenty IT Certifications Project to Make Pay Gains in 2014” is no exception. It’s based on Foote Partners Q4 Update to its 2013 Skills Demand and Pay Trends Report (which is actually based on results for Q3 2013, and covers 348 noncertified IT skills along with 293 IT certifications). The big takeaways from that report were that (a) average page for noncertified IT skills increased by a niggling 0.4% that quarter, up by 1.8% over the previous year, and (b) that average pay for IT certifications were up by 1.5%, the biggest jump since 2005, and the first time since 2006 there had been two consecutive positive quarters in this area.
The lead-in slide from the ITBusinessEdge story sets a somewhat breathless tone for the 20-cert lineup that follows.
The slideshow proceeds to list the following 20 IT certifications where pay hikes have been highest, or where demand is strongest (and thus most like to command higher pay for entrants and bigger raises for those already in the game):
|ITBusinessEdge/Foote Partner’s 20 Raise-worthy IT Certs for 2014
|Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control
|Certified Wireless Security Professional
|Certified Wireless Network Expert
|GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst
|GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst
|HP Accredited Solutions Expert (All)
|HP Master Accredited Solutions Expert
|HP Master Accredited Systems Engineer
||HP Master ASE
|Information Systems Security Engineering Professional
|Microsoft Certified Architect
|Microsoft Certified Solutions Master
|Open Group Certified Architect
||The Open Group
|Open Group Certified Master Architect
||The Open Group (up-level from Architect*)
|Oracle Certified Expert MySQL 5.1 Cluster Database Administrator
|Oracle Certified Professional MySQL5 Database Administrator
|Oracle DB Administrator Certified Master
||Oracle (various available for different DB versions)
|PMI Risk Management Professional
||Project Management Institute (PMI)
|Program Management Professional
||Project Management Institute (PMI)
|Red Hat Certified Architect
|Teradata 12 Certified Enterprise Architect
Here’s what’s interesting to me about the results of this survey:
1. Two of the credentials mentioned are no longer available, and thus useful and meaningful only to those who’ve already earned them. This shows only the lag between what people have accomplished and what still lies ahead.
2. Information security, aka infosec, remains a pretty strong expertise card to play, with 6 directly related credentials under that heading, and several others including partial or tangential coverage of infosec as well.
3. High level certifications — those with Master, Expert, and Architect in their labels — account for half of the 20 credentials included. These are high- or pinnacle-level certs, and reflect high seniority, serious skills and knowledge, and valuable experience. Such people are at the top end of the salary scale, so of course their raises are going to be big, along with everything else about their positions. But there are relatively few such individuals in the overall IT population (I’m guessing less than 5% for sure, and possibly less than 2%).
That’s why I always recommend taking surveys like this one with a healthy dose of skepticism, and suggest they’re best used to show trends and possibilities, rather than to provide detailed career guidance (except, perhaps, for those already en route to some of the pinnacle or high-level certs mentioned in the preceding table). Buy this information remains interesting and informative nevertheless.
[*Note added 3/4/2014: Thanks to feedback from David Foote and Aida Zepeda, I am informed that the Open Forum's Master Architect is still available (it just doesn't have a Web page of its own, and functions as an add-on to the base-level Architect credential). In fact there's also a "Distinguished Architect" version of this certification as well, though it's seldom bestowed.]
January 29, 2014 2:43 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
, MCSA on Win8 WinSrv12 and SQLSrv12 get exam discount plus Second Shot
, MCSA Win8 gets 20% discount for both exams
Late last week, MS Learning’s “Professional Flash” newsletter featured an interesting offer: 20% off on the costs of exams 70-687 and 70-688. With Microsoft exams at $150 in the USA nowadays, and similar prices elsewhere around the globe, that’s a useful savings of $60 or thereabouts for the credential. But in following up on the voucher offer in the e-mail I discovered that even more exams are covered in this Second Shot deal as shown here:
Various Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012 exams are covered, too.
The wording of the offer on the voucher page does seem to contradict the MS offer in the newsletter, so I reproduce that here as well (and for the record it’s from the “MCP Weekly Flash: January 23, 2014″ in case you need to remonstrate with MS or Prometric about this):
The newsletter clearly says “20 percent discount on exams 70-687 AND 70-688″ so be sure to quote this if you get pushback.
For those pursuing MCSA on Windows Server 2012 or SQL Server 2012, it’s still a decent discount on one of the exams involved. But for the MCSA on Windows 8 combining double discount with Second Shot (free retake for those who don’t pass on the first try), this offer is pretty compelling. It’s only good until May 31, 2014, though (including the proverbial Second Shot exam attempt for all such exams), so you’d better get cracking!
If you’d like to sign up for the “Professional Flash” newsletter, or other MS newsletters, you can do this through your Microsoft profile (here’s the “How to Subscribe…” link at TechNet).
January 27, 2014 3:14 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
BCS 2014 IT trends survey
, BSC 2014 IT survey shows mobile computing infosec and cloud computing on top
, IT careers
Thanks to the folks at GoCertify.com, I had a chance to peruse the “Digital Leaders Survey” for 2014 compiled by the BCS aka The Chartered Institute for IT. Based in London, this group’s report includes a pool of respondents from around the globe, but over 4 out of 5 of them reside in the United Kingdom. The results of this survey are quite interesting nevertheless.
Surveying IT trends and issues from a mix of mostly British firms from around the globe produces some interesting results.
The Top Three IT topics or trends over the next twelve months for organizations surveyed are as follows:
1. Mobile computing (further explained as “integration of mobile devices into the business, BYOD”) occurred at the top of the rankings for 57% of the pool, up from 44% looking 3-5 years out
2. Information security stood at 53%, down slightly from 55% looking further out as above
3. Cloud computing at 49%, up slightly from 48% looking out
Other items on the IT radar at the companies surveyed included Big Data (35% down from 47% further out), agile development (27% up from 11% further out), social media (20% down slightly from 21% further out), the Internet of Things (13%, down significantly from 30% further out, as you’d expect), offshoring (6% down from 8% further out), and Green IT (further explained as “energy efficiency”; at 7% down from 17% looking 3-5 years out).
The Top 3 looking 3-5 years out shuffles the following items to the top of this list:
1. Information Security (55%)
2. Cloud Computing (48%)
3. Big Data (47%)
Mobile computing drops to fourth place in the more forward-looking lineup, at 44%. Both the Internet of Things (which jumps from 13% near-term to 30% further out) and green IT (moving from 7% near-term to 17% further out) show the biggest projected increases when the time horizon expands.
The same survey also showed a need for enhanced IT skills among the existing workforce from over half the respondents (57%), a need for additional, suitably qualified IT staff (48%), and increased IT budgets (37%) as the top three gaps in need of closing so as to “address the management issues and IT trends your organization has prioritized.” No surprises there, perhaps, though these items do validate the potential utility of high-demand IT certifications, especially in identified “hot areas” — namely, mobile computing, information security, cloud computing and Big Data.
Be sure to check this survey out for yourself. It’s definitely worth a look-see.
January 24, 2014 2:49 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Earlier this week, Cisco announced some changes to its information security certification lineup. They’ve even put together a landing page entitled “Security Certification Program Redesign,” that features a video from John N. Stewart, Cisco’s CSO and Senior VP, who explains why Cisco is adding to and expanding its security certification, curriculum, and coverage. He talks about upcoming opportunities in the information security area, especially for qualified IT professionals who have worthwhile credentials to demonstrate their security skills and knowledge. The gist of his message is that Cisco is committed to both security products and platforms and to training to make sure that IT professionals understand information security, and how to put relevant products and platforms to work.
Cisco mounts a full-court press on infosec training and certification, along with a revamped CCNP Security and a new Cybersecurity Specialist cert.
You’ll find pointers to all the details on the afore-linked landing page, including:
- A link to the CCNP Security home page, along with another link explaining the exams migration path from the old regime to the new and updated one (this PDF chart provides a succinct visual that explains things pretty clearly, though, so if you’re in that particular boat this should be your first stopping off point). The extremely brief rendition is that various options in the required areas will be retiring on either April 21, 2014 (642-637, 642-627, 642-618, and 642-648) or on December 31, 2014 (641-502/3/4, 642-532/3, 642-522/3/4, and 642-515), with a new slate of exams to replace them (300-208, 300-207, 300-206, and 300-209). There’s even a link to the Cisco Learning Network Store’s CCNP Security Training page, which lists all of the various course offerings (including a coupon code for free access to the first module, and a 10%-off code for a subscription to Cisco’s entire online learning library).
- A link to the new Cybersecurity Specialist home page which takes a CCNA Security or any valid CCIE as a pre-requisite, and requires passing exam 600-199 SCYBER “Securing Cisco Networks with Threat Detection and Analysis.” This credential focuses on topics related to event monitoring, analysis of security events, alarms, and traffic analysis, plus incident response concepts, processes, and best practices.
Cisco is apparently ready, willing and even eager to help companies and organization address a looming shortage of infosec-savvy IT professionals with training and certification offerings. And indeed, most analyst firms and infosec professional organizations foresee the same shortage, and all players are no doubt anticipating an upsurge in activity (and certifications granted) to help meet those needs, Cisco among them.