IT Career JumpStart

December 13, 2010  2:59 PM

Do Local Glimmers of Hope on the Job Front Mean Anything? Mebbe…

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

While listening to my local NPR affiliate this morning ( I caught an interesting story during the local news segment that’s presented at six minutes past the hour during the broadcast. A local KUT reporter interviewed Christopher Calnan at the Austin Business Journal who reported in a December 10 story entitled “Many Austin mobile/social networking startups scramble to fill jobs” that there are currently nearly 1,000 unfilled tech jobs open in the Austin metro area, most of them for software developers, and many of them at the social and mobile networking startups that have been springing up with terrific abandon in the Austin area in the last year or so.

According to the story, listed 938 open technology jobs in Central Texas as of Friday, with over 600 of them in software development. By contrast, the DFW metro area with a combined population over 4 times that of Austin’s, has listings for 2,300 tech positions at Dice, indicating a higher number of jobs open per capita in Austin than Dallas. Similar numbers hold for Houston and San Antonio as well.

Does this mean tech employment is finally picking up? Maybe yes, maybe no. But it’s highly encouraging that one of the primary “digital employment towns” (at middling number 15 US city, Austin usually ranks with Silicon Valley, the Seattle area, Washington, DC, the NYC metro area, and the Boston area among the top major metro areas with significant high tech employment opportunities) is starting to experience a shortfall in IT employment, even if it is in a fairly narrow segment of the software development arena.

Hopefully this points to a trend where other jobs in IT will start to pick up, and a real jobs recovery for the sector can get underway in 2011. Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to see such a phenomenon occur next year, shall we, and see if that does any good!

December 10, 2010  6:42 PM

See your friendly neighborhood MCT for a great deal on MS Cert exams

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Banner from "Born to Learn" blog with cert exam discount offer

Banner from Born to Learn blog with discount offer

Here’s the news, straight from Daniel Tarekegn on the Microsoft Born to Learn Blog for 12/6/2010:

As you may know, in August we launched the Microsoft Career Certification Exam Pack special offer. This offer provides significant discounts and value when students buy exams as a pack. Students who buy a 2-pack or 3-pack receive a 15% discount and those who purchase a 4-pack or 5-pack receive a 20% discount. Plus, Second Shots are included on each exam purchased in the pack.Today, we’re happy to announce that as an exclusive benefit to MCTs, you can now provide an additional 5% discount to your students on the 2,3,4 and 5-pack Microsoft Career Certification Exam Packs. This offer, only available through Learning Rewards, increases the discount on the 2 and 3 exam packs to 20% and the discount on the 4 and 5 exam packs to 25%.

Translation: you only get the extra 5% if you know a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) who has access to discount vouchers, or if you attend a training class at a Microsoft Learning Partner location (where instructors must be MCTs to get in front of the classroom). But the savings are pretty substantial, so you should probably check around to see if you know somebody appropriate if you’re planning to take 2 or more exams in the next year.

December 8, 2010  2:16 PM

No Sooner Said, Than Done…Wrong!!

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

In my last blog here “2010 Employment Situation Ends With a Whimper,” I believe I summarized the tone and the conclusions of the most recent employment situation summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) correctly. But I may have let the black mood color my interpretation of those numbers more than was warranted. Let me offset the picture that this report paints with a decidedly cheerier report that surfaced in Larry Dignan’s ZDNet blog from Monday (12/6/2010) entitled “IT hiring picture improves.”

Yes, you read that title correctly — it really does say something about the hiring picture for IT actually getting better! Dignan cites Robert Half’s most recent “IT Hiring Index” for Q42010. On the downside (something Dignan omits to report in his blog), only 9 percent of CIOs plan to add more IT staff before the end of the year (2010, that is), while 6 percent foresee cutbacks in the same period. As the first paragraph of the report goes on to state: “The net 3 percent increase in hiring activity is down three points from the prior quarter’s forecast, but up three points from this time last year.” Status quo maintained for the time being: modest growth, with losses nearly canceling out gains.

Here's the front page for the Robert Half IT Quarterly Hiring Reports

Here is the front page for the Robert Half IT Quarterly Hiring Reports

Here’s the good news, such as it is (you’ll see what I mean when you read it over) bullet-point style:

  • “84 percent of CIOs are at least somewhat confident in their companies’ growth prospects in the fourth quarter, up three points from the third quarter.”
  • “The South Atlantic and East South Central regions anticipate the most active IT hiring.”
  • “Forty-five percent of CIOs said they are optimistic about their firms’ likelihood of investing in IT projects in the coming months.”
  • “…a majority of CIOs (60 percent) [said] … the technical skill set most in demand within their IT departments is network administration. Database management ranked second, with 54 percent of the response, followed by Windows administration (Server 2000/2003/2008) and desktop support, each with 51 percent of the response…”
  • Sectors that report hiring plans include transportation (net 8 percent increase) and business services (net 6 percent increase).

The whole thing is still pretty tentative, and I’m reading lots of touchy-feely possible plans like “feeling optimistic” and “somewhat confident,” but hey, some signs of improvement anywhere in IT are good news, right? Even wishy-washy, heavily qualified potential hiring is better than a solid diet of layoffs and cutbacks. Maybe we can limp into 2011 with some hopes for improvement after all!

December 5, 2010  10:10 PM

2010 Employment Situation Ends With a Whimper

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I usually post my monthly employment situation story on the first Friday of each month, the very day that the US Department of Labor Statistics publishes their report for the preceding month. Last Friday, I took a look at the report and the numbers and decided  I just really didn’t want to write about it that same day. Despite numbers from ADP earlier in the week that led many economists to believe that there might have been as many as 160,000 new jobs created in November, the latest report from the BLS shows a net gain of only 39,000 jobs in the private sector (the report I heard on NPR said that the numbers from the US BLS usually come in higher than those from ADP, but this time they came in lower). Even more depressing, total unemployment increased from 9.6 to 9.8 percent. Though small, that’s the first increase in the overall unemployment rate in some time now.

Somehow the red BLS banner seems appropriate for this month's numberss

The red BLS banner seems appropriate this month

I don’t know what to say except “Ouch! That hurts!!” I don’t suppose this can be called a statistical surprise by any means since modest or bare improvements month over month have mostly been the rule, rather than the exception, all year long. I guess what made these results so hard to take was the false hope created by the ADP’s report of 93,000 jobs added for November, in sharp contrast to what followed on Friday in the US BLS report.

About the only bright spot I can find — if you want to call it that, because it’s more the absence of bad news rather than the presence of good news — is that information unemployment (as reported in Table B-6 for the latest BLS report) continues to hold steady at just under 2.2 million. For once, information neither led the way nor exactly tracked the swing in the gross unemployment number. Whoopee! Where’s my noisemaker?

At least, this is the final employment report for 2010. The December numbers won’t be reported until after New Year’s and generally are considered the first salvo in a new year of reports. Hopefully, those numbers will improve to help 2011 start off more positively than 2010 is ending.

December 3, 2010  5:11 PM

The Word From the Hiring Trenches: Resumes DO Matter

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

In the course of carrying out a consultant engagement this week with a global technology company that targets small to medium sized communications service providers (aka regional carriers or telcos here in North America), I had occasion to help a hiring manager figure out that she needed to start recruiting to fill 6 to 8 positions right after the New Year. Aside from any reflections this might have on the state of the economy or prospects for job growth next year (hooray!), I was also forcibly reminded about the important of a clean, crisp, well-crafted resume.

Here’s how Sherry X, the manager in question, put it to me as best I can remember: “If I see a resume with a misspelling, a typo, or other obvious lack of proof-reading, I immediately toss it into the trash. If a person can’t get something that important right to try to get a job with me, I don’t want to know what kind of job they would do if I actually gave them one…” Persnickety though this approach might be, I found myself nodding when she said this because the kinds of jobs she needs to fill are for people who will be involved in managing a content production process, and indeed, such people absolutely must be persnickety, detail-oriented, and completely obsessive about process and quality control to do their jobs correctly.

That said, the same observations really do apply to any position of any kind whatsoever. If you do apply for a job, or post your resume somewhere, you really MUST get somebody (if not several somebodies) who is persnickety, detail-oriented, and hopefully also has some professional editing experience (your old English teacher) or really cares about you a lot (your Mom or Dad, spouse or significant other, and so forth) to give it an eagle-eyed review before you show it to anybody else. And make sure to eliminate all errors, and even shady grammar or usage, before you present yourself to anyone through your resume for real, and for potential work or a job.

Just for grins, I just re-read my own resume and did a spelling and grammar check (you can see it yourself if you like) and while I did find two instances of shady usage I’m pleased to say I do indeed appear to practice what I preach right here. You should definitely strive to do likewise whenever you hand over your resume to anybody else (or post it to a resume or job posting site). Otherwise, you might not like the response you get, if you’re lucky enough to get any kind of response at all!

November 30, 2010  2:52 PM

A Tale of Two Opposing Employment Lists

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Curious about this blog title? A quick comparison between the titles of the articles that gave me the idea for this posting should satisfy your need to know and understand what’s up here:

I agree that some of the items that turn up in the second of these two pieces are indeed suprising, but that there are very few suprises in the list presented in the first piece from eWeek. I’ll juxtapose the two lists in tabular form so you can see how they stack up against each other.

Order Up (eWeek) Down (Yahoo!)
1 Operations Manager Judge
2 Data Modeler Fashion Designer
3 Web Developer Insurance Underwriter
4 Lead Application Developer Travel Agent
5 Messaging Administrator Newspaper Reporter
6 Data Architect Broadcast Announcer
7 Data Warehouse Analyst Plant Manager
8 CRM Business Analyst Chemist
9 CRM Technical Developer Economist
10 Business Intelligence Analyst CEO
11 ERP Business Analyst
12 Systems Integrator Consultant
13 ERP Technical Developer
14 Networking Presales Engineer
15 Web Designer

OK, now I get to make some remarks about what I see going on between these two lists. First, it’s too bad the second list only includes ten declining job categories because that leaves 5 empty cells in the bottom right corner of the table. But as you look at column 3 (Yahoo’s list of jobs that the BLS reports as on their way down) it’s pretty obvious that between outsourcing and the considerable impact of automation (mostly based on IT technologies) many of these jobs are in decline either because software lets fewer people do more work (insurance underwriters for sure, and possibly also fashion designers, travel agents, reporters, announcers, and even chemists) or because it’s cheaper to hire highly skilled professionals offshore (plant managers and chemists for sure, and perhaps even economists and CEOs as well). Judges are on the way down because down economies cut positions in all arenas, including the bench. On the other hand (or in the second column of the table, more appropriately) data analysis and various development skills are hot, hot, hot IT areas, as I’ll explain further in the next paragraph.

As for the eWeek high demand list, I see zero surprises in there, but careful perusal of the list (for salary ranges and more description see the original article) tells me that analytical skills drive over one-third (6 of 15) of the positions therein, and that software or document development skills drive most of what’s left after that (7 of 15 total, but 7 of 9 of positions remaining after the out-and-out analytical positions are excluded). This speaks eloquently of the need for sharp technical skills, and the ability to transform insights about structure and function into working models or systems to represent them. It also tells me that understanding the data universe in which one does IT is every bit as important as it should be, and keeps on getting more so every day. Why is this unarguably the case? Because enterprises and organizations can earn high returns, or carry out their missions better, when they understand what their customers and data are telling them, and when they act appropriately (and even strategically and competitively) upon the results of their analyses — often by developing software to deliver new services, information, or goods in response. What’s the opposite of a vicious cycle? I’m not sure what to call it except perhaps a “positive feedback loop,” but that’s what the overall patterns that emerges from this list tells me is going on.

November 29, 2010  5:22 PM

No other signs of sweeping changes to Microsoft Certified Master requirements

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Revisiting Anne Martinez’s latest GoCertify “Certification Watch” newsletter reminded me of my blog dated 11/9/2010 which discusses the elimination of the $18,000 classroom training requirement heretofore associated with every Microsoft Certified Master program for the specific MCM associated with SQL Server 2008. Upon learning about this development, I’d hoped to see other MCM offerings quickly following suit, but alas, that appears not to be the case. I’m going to forward this blog to my MS Learning contact at Waggener-Edstrom (Microsoft’s PR agency) to see what kind of response it engenders, but right now all I see is a training discount for $3,500 on any of the other MCM programs (except for Windows Directory R2, for which the discount is $1,000) for those who are fast enough to complete the exams and the application process by the end of 2010.

For the record, the MCM programs are as follows:

The asterisk after the SQL Server 2008 means that “training is optional,” to use MIcrosoft’s language to explain the special deal that the SQL Server team has put together. Given that the other subject areas — especially Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Windows Server 2008 R2 Directory Services — also enjoy subtantial numbers of highly qualified and expert practitioners, it would be really nice if MS decided to turn this into a change of policy across the board. Failing that, I’ll be very interested to see what kind of response I get from the MS Learning folks to this suggestion. I’m supposed to talk to Lutz Ziob, the General Manager for MS Learning, some time in December, and may also bring this up with him should the opportunity present. Stay tuned!

November 28, 2010  11:58 PM

MS Certified Career Conference Recordings Finally Up

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Though the MCCC (Microsoft Certified Career Conference)  came and went in 24 blistering hours on November 18, the recordings of that day’s events didn’t hit the site until last week. In fact, I checked last Tuesday (November 23) and only a handful of items had made it to those pages by that time. Now that Turkeyday (the US Thanksgiving holiday, for those of you reading this outside the US) has also come and gone, I’ve gone back to check again, and it seems that the vast majority of the sessions are now available in recorded form to conference registrants. In fact, I count 42 sessions in total. As I dug through my recent e-mail I also came across a message from the conference team dated 11/25 (Thanskgiving day) to inform me that the recordings had indeed all been posted. I guess it took them longer than they thought it would to process and post those recordings…

Now, I’m going to have to watch (or at least skim through) these sessions to see which ones are really worth auditioning, so I can ask MS if they’re willing to share any of them with the world outside those who registered for the conference. Please stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted. I see lots of useful tidbits on MCTS, MCITP, and even some MOS credentials, some interesting developer topics covered, and a few other career and job search odds’n’ends. Stay tuned as I chew through this stuff, and see what’s what.

November 23, 2010  10:47 PM

CompTIA working with SNIA to Craft Storage+ Cert

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Last week,  CompTIA issued a call for subject matter experts to help formulate the requirements and questions for an exam on digital storage technologies. This will very likely focus on network-attached storage (NAS) and storage-area networks (SANs) though some coverage of direct-attached storage (DAS) is also quite likely. And right now, if you visit the CompTIA site and search on “Storage+” you’ll find it mentioned on their “Exam Development” page as well. But so far, there is no official news on the CompTIA site about this planned credential, nor is there anything about this on the Storage Networking Industry Association’s (SNIA) Website, either.

Nevertheless, numerous outlets such as CertCities. com and Train Signal Training have indicated that CompTIA has “announced” their plans for a Storage+ certification. I’m not sure that “announce” is the right language, since I can’t find any such announcements anywhere at CompTIA and SNIA, and those organizations will no doubt make formal announcements when the time is right (which is apparently not yet). I’ve put a call into Steven Ostrowski, CompTIA’s Director of Corporate Communications to ask from some comment on this information (and will follow up with same if and when it’s forthcoming), but my guess is that nobody’s talking because nobody’s quite ready to talk just yet.

So, while we do know that CompTIA and SNIA are collaborating on what will presumably be an entry-level networked storage credential, the Storage+, we don’t really know much more than that yet. It may be ready some time in 2011 or it could slide into 2012. I’ll report more as more information becomes available. Stay tuned.

November 22, 2010  4:05 PM

Discounted Citrix VirtCert Exams Available thru End of 2010

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Those who’ve been sitting on the fence when it comes to pursuing Citrix virtualization certification may want to stop sitting, and start making exam plans. That’s because prospective candidates for two of its virtualization certification exams can save $75 off the $300 tab (25% off, in other words) if they register for them before December 31, 2010. The exams in question are:

In my opinion, this means that anybody who’s considering this sequence of certs, and will be able to take these exams some time next year, should go ahead and pony up for both exams to save the $150 that this offer extends to those who take it up. This will be of primary interest to IT professionals who already hold the CCAA or CCA credentials, and could just be the impetus needed to get them in motion, to climb a few more rungs up the Citrix certification ladder.

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