IT is shedding jobs--should you worry?

IT is shedding jobs--should you worry?

Summary: Recent IT employment reports have been grim. What does this mean for your employment situation?

TOPICS: CXO, IT Employment

Recent IT employment reports are foreshadowing a lot of this.
The August 1 Bureau of Labor Statistics employment situation report included the kind of gloom-and-doom that has become de riguer in this recessionary cycle: nonfarm payroll employment slipped by 51,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate rose to 5.7, a full one percent increase in the last 12 months.

But buried within the report were some statistical punches that seemed aimed right for the technology gut: Employment in the information industry declined by 13,000 in July and by 44,000 over the past 12 months. Telecommunications alone lost 5,000 jobs in July.

The BLS report comes on the heels of two other reports bearing grim IT news. Two weeks ago, Gartner found that fewer IT organizations would be increasing their staff levels in 2008 than did in 2007, and those that would still anticipated a decelerated hiring pace. And last month, a survey of CIOs put out by Goldman Sachs found that the number of IT jobs would drop in 2009, and that IT contractors would bear the brunt of the cuts.

So what does this mean for you? I asked a few tech recruiters to tell us where they're seeing signs of hiring life.

Johanna Rothman, a blogger and author of "Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People" says that IT job security in this recessionary cycle will come from being the kind of techie who wears a lot of hats.

"Hiring for people who are adaptable at several roles is up. So if you understand performance and databases, or financial systems and security, or some other combination of things, you are more likely to find a good job. If you've categorized yourself as a 'Java programmer' you are out of luck."

Curt Sterling, a partner at The Cydio Group, an IT staffing firm in San Diego, is more positive, saying he's had little trouble moving techies who had been laid off from companies reducing their workforce into sectors that are growing, such as wireless and technology infrastructure companies.

"We have found that although some banks and real estate related companies are reducing their workforce, in many other industries IT hiring remains strong.... If you have good experience and a Computer Science or related degree, you should be able to find work in IT pretty easily."

Audrey Chernoff, senior technical recruiter with the HCR Group, a New York-based recruiting firm says that even investment banks caught in the mortgage crisis are still looking for strong developers and architects.

"People who love to code. Right now I am looking for C#, .Net, Java, and C++ developers and architects. Even managers must be very hands on in this economy," says Chernoff.

So what can you pull from all of this? Though there has yet to be a job category that comes with a "no-layoff guarantee" (though if you find one, please, do share), there are clearly organizations that are still hiring. The safety of your IT job has to do with so many factors--such as your specialty, industry, the health of your employer, their view of the importance of in-house IT--but also the luck of having the specific skills a specific organization is looking for at a specific time.

How about you? Are you worried about the security of your current job?

Topics: CXO, IT Employment

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  • a few question Deb

    ok its may seem loom and doom but what about baby-boomer retirement is this a problem in the state , in canada that a known big problem.

    So personally i always doubt those kind of article ....
    With the retirement of baby boomer there will be job more then we can take.

    ALso sadly the generation after us is the a exemple to follow
    • First baby boomers must retire.

      To do that they must have sufficient income and assets to fund retirement. And to do that they must have a good pension or save profitably or both.

      Expect a significant number of baby boomers to consider retirement a distant future prospect.
      Anton Philidor
    • baby boomers have another 30 years to go

      Half or more of the baby boomers will be alive and
      productive for another 30 years or more.

      It's just another excuse.
    • Gen Y?


      I'm a mid X'er and, granted, it feels like gloom and doom... but that's not the best example to set; simply throwing in the proverbial towel.
      • Having re-read the stereotypes, I don't quite fit as an X'er either...

        Too intellectual... The only ____ual thing deemed sinful nowadays. :-S
  • Job losses, or removing un-needed jobs?

    What is happening is that the me-too 9-5 types can no longer expect to just turn up and get paid automatically (contract or permanent).

    In my job, telecommute development from home, I've never had so many phone calls and job offers as of late. This is a direct result of the housing market crash, where the money now starts moving in new directions.

    The best way to get work is to be one of the best in the world.
  • Job with "no-layoff" guarantee

    Supreme Court Justices and Canadian Senators come to mind as jobs that historically have had really really low layoffs.

    What is going on is the transition of jobs where before one could simply handle one little role and be alright, now communication is key to getting a position as well as understanding what employers are seeking. That team player that can juggle well may go further than the guy who seems to be rather nerdy.

    JB King
  • RE: IT is shedding jobs--should you worry?

    Finance (funds, stocks, real estate) are probably responsible for these massive IT layoffs as they are database heavy.

    My guess is that basic industry is still in need of "java programmers" and .NET programmers.

    Indeed, my own forecast calls for a back to basics approach (the opposite of what you predict) for grunt level types who can create programs, write websites and blogs and basically take us into 21st Century SOA.

    The people who need to go are the schemers and talk men who gave us outsourcing, "application servers" and all the snake oil we could drink.

    It's time for IT to get Real.
    • enough with the SOA/SaaS propaganda, already!

      Software is a product, not a "service". The people wanting
      to shift to "services" are the same ones promoting body
      • SaaS only gives the providers apathy and indolence.

        Heck, many companies that offer PRODUCTS are slow with updates too. If there's a lock-in without an incentive, SaaS will make everyone an A** (you get the idea) because it's just another cheat.
  • I don't think so.

    I get about half a dozen messages a day. If I were more open to travel, I could have have gotten a number of diferent jobs. Hey, there's an idea.
  • RE: IT is shedding jobs--should you worry?

    All IT professionals must be keenly aware of how their company is performing in tough economic times. Is the company in growth mode or efficiency mode? The most difficult strategy to execute on is being highly efficient and continue to grow. Southwest Airlines continues to perfect efficiency and growth. For IT professionals if all your growth projects are on hold and your keeping the infrastructure in maintain mode you may be stuck. Get on more projects and hone your skills -- quickly. You will get another job but companies are slowing down their hiring.

    Tim Bosse
  • So, the Clinton-Bush economic depression continues

    So, what's new? The Clinton-Bush economic depression
    continues, a little deeper than before.

    The interesting question is: When will it stop?
  • Lies and statistics

    The BLS numbers apparently lump all technology workers together, so you don't know who is getting laid off -- J2EE architects or the people who plug in CAT-5 cables? This data is too vague to really be meaningful. It would be more useful to know what classes of IT workers are getting laid off. Web developers? C coders? COBOL coders? Network admins?

    My advice to people has always been to learn some bizarre, obscure technology like Roxen/Pike or multi-value databases where there's ALWAYS ear-piercing screams for workers. May not be glamor, but there are jobs.
  • RE: IT is shedding jobs--should you worry?

    Has anyone read "The Big Switch"?

    Why would a real estate company need an IT person anymore? Maybe Zillow, but Century 21 in Cleveland? I don't think so.

    There can be no denying that with SaaS and utility computing, the idea of your normal business having a dedicated IT staff is going to become a lot less common.
  • It would be interesting to know...

    ... what the level of IT employment is now compared to what it was in the 1980s. In the 1990's many people from other professions with no IT background were taking programming courses and getting IT jobs; the ranks swelled significantly. Now that that boom is bust are we just returning to previous levels?
  • Not a bit worried

    I'm an IT specialist, I'm into IT since 1985, so nothing to worring about. Now, for low knowledge IT jobs (aka non-specialized), yep, I would be very worried. Go learn SAP, is just an excel-like thing.
  • I'm not worried

    I'm a requirements analyst who needs to be in close touch with customers (internal and external to the company) and to IT developers. I also have a project management certification. My job can't be outsourced.

    Oh yeah -- I'm also a baby boomer close to retirement.
    • Don't be so sure.

      If they can offshore graphic design, journalism, legal jobs, most of which are cultural-based*, is there such a thing as a safe field anymore? Except a plumber, but a nation of 300 million plumbers? I don't think that's very practicable... We've got plenty of talent here. Only the cost of living makes our labor "too expensive". Rather a unique position our country is in, right now...

      * even the US has a culture. It's sadly dwarfed and drowned by pop entertainment garbage...
  • Why worry?, I am a freelancer...

    Why worry?, I am a freelancer... there are tons of clients everywhere, big and small.