Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CIOs say they're hiring again

After a long period of layoffs in a flagging economy, IT staffs are starting to expand as stalled projects are relaunched and workloads increase.

By Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld - The technology employment outlook is slowly starting to improve, but the uptick in hiring has been modest and hasn't come close to making up for the IT jobs lost during the economic downturn of the past couple of years.

The latest quarterly Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report projects a moderate increase in hiring during the fourth quarter. Some 1,400 CIOs from U.S. companies with 100 or more employees were surveyed for the report.

The personnel services firm said that data center executives are slowly adding new employees as work starts on projects that had been put on hold, and as IT workloads increase in general. Almost half of the survey respondents said they expect their companies will invest in IT projects in the coming months.

The optimistic note comes after a couple of very bad years for IT workers. For instance, IT vendors have shed 215,000 jobs since January 2009, according to TechAmerica Foundation, an industry group. But in the first six months of this year, technology companies added 30,200 jobs to their payrolls, whereas they shed 143,000 jobs over the same period last year.

John Longwell, vice president of research at Computer Economics Inc., pointed out that vendors are filling not just technology jobs, but also sales, marketing and distribution positions.

"Those sectors that are feeling the early stages of the recovery are hiring, but we expect IT organizations overall to continue to run very lean through the remainder of this year," Longwell said. Such firms "are not laying off workers, but for the most part, they do not have plans to hire."

Andrew Bartels, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said that slow-growing employment numbers among vendors and user companies reflect the state of the economy. "Companies have been very, very cautious about hiring employees, especially permanent staff," he said.

Users are investing in technology as a way of avoiding hiring, while tech vendors are growing mostly via sales of computer equipment, PCs and servers -- not from the sale of people-intensive services, Bartels added.

The Robert Half survey found that CIOs are mostly seeking experts in network and Windows administration, database management and desktop support.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Job-Search Tips: How to Nail a Phone Interview

by Gina Pogol,

With nearly five candidates (on average) applying for each available job opening--and with hundreds applying for some positions--many human resource departments and recruiters are using telephone interviews much more extensively to narrow down job-applicant pools. These tips will help keep you in the running.

No more softball!
Until recently, telephone interviews were mainly used to verify your basic qualifications before the "real" interview. So if the position required an MBA and you thought you could sneak in with your good looks and your associate's degree, the phone interview would be as far as you got. People who met the basic requirements would then field a few softball questions. Preparation for these phone interviews consisted of spitting out your gum before answering.

Today, however, the person on the phone might not be some appointment-setting flunky--you could be speaking to an actual decision-maker. Expect to be grilled.

Before the interview
1. Create a cheat sheet. Keep your resume in front of you, as well as a list of key achievements in previous jobs. Write down the answers to commonly asked interview questions. You know the drill: What are your greatest strengths? What are your career goals? And so on.

2. Research the company. Yes, you didn't have to do this for phone interviews in the past, but now you do. Think of it as an early opportunity to show your stuff.

3. Take the interview seriously. One hiring manager told the Wall Street Journal that interviewees have put her on hold while taking calls from other people, allowed the interview to be interrupted by screaming children, or had the TV blaring in the background. One applicant on a cell phone actually ordered from a drive-through window during the phone interview!

4. Create the right atmosphere. Treat a phone interview like an important meeting with someone who can change your life--because it just might be. You wouldn't go to an important meeting in your pajamas, so dress neatly and attractively for your phone call. Sit up straight (you may even prefer to stand) because it makes your voice resonate more effectively. If you plan to use a cell phone, have a friend call you for a practice run to make sure the connection is good. And be alone for your interview. You wouldn't go to a professional meeting with your mommy by your side or a puppy in your lap, would you?

5. Finally, make sure your outgoing voicemail message sounds professional. (And if you don't know exactly when the interviewer will call, refrain from answering your phone with "Duuuuude!" during the window of possibility.)

During the interview
1. Be nice. You may speak with the company president. You may speak with a switchboard operator. No matter what, be professional and polite (because the switchboard operator talks to everyone).

2. Remember that the other person can't see you. If you need to stop speaking in order to write something down, don't just leave the interviewer with a bunch of dead air. Say something like "Please excuse me while I write that down."

3. Don't jump the gun. "So, Mr. Jones, where did you go to s--" "I have a bachelor's degree in communications and an online MBA." "As I was saying, where did you go to ski when you lived in Vermont?" Oops. Don't interrupt the interviewer. It's rude, and it makes your rehearsed answers sound a bit too rehearsed.

4. Don't drone on. Some people panic and feel a frantic need to fill up every pause in a conversation--especially when they can't see the other party. Don't do this. Drawn-out explanations make it look like you're either hiding something or trying to exaggerate your qualifications.

5. Ask questions. The phone interview is an opportunity for you to learn about the company and get a better idea of exactly what the hiring manager wants to see. For example, if career training in specific software is required, ask how the program is used. Then if you get an in-person interview, you'll be able to highlight your proficiency with the software and your ability to use it as required.

Closing the deal
Just as you would when completing an in-person interview, tell the interviewer what you want. At the end of a phone interview, make it clear that you are enthused about the position and that you would like to go further in the process. Be sure to send a prompt "thank you" that also recaps your qualifications and emphasizes your interest in the job. With any luck, you'll emerge with an appointment for an in-person interview.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What should you consider before changing your IT focus?

Author: Toni Bowers

I received an email from a TechRepublic member who is seeking advice about switching focuses in his IT career:

I have been working in Telecom as a software developer for six years now. At the beginning of my career I did work in embedded for about two years. Now I find my self wanting to switch back to embedded/device drivers. Is it advisable to make such a switch after quite a few years of experience in the IT industry? Would it in any way hamper my career with such a move?

In order to answer this question, I began by asking Justin James, who writes for our Programming and Development blog, his opinion.

He said, “Would I call it ‘advisable’? Not really. Unless your current specialty is on the decline, there is no need to make the switch. Unless you see otherwise, the pay rates are probably going to be the same. Up front you might have to take a pay cut due to lack of experience in the new field. In the long run, it may pay off to have a broader scope of experience, but that’s long-term thinking and it’s too hard to predict these things more than a year or two out. At the same time, other than having to start in a new industry and learn some new things, it may be worth a bit of a pay cut just to do something new and different. There should not be a substantial negative affect on his career other than the short term pay cut and the loss of seniority in your current job.”

Here’s my opinion: Six years may seem like a lot of time but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not. Some people make complete career changes to entirely other fields with more time than that under their belts. My advice would be to go where your heart is. If you really think that working with embedded/device drivers is something that would be more fulfilling or that you would find more interesting, then that’s the way I would suggest you go. No one would deny the pleasure of a good salary, but if you earn it doing something you aren’t really invested in, then, believe me, it won’t make you happy.

The good news is that you have already had a taste of the specialty you want to move into. If you find it beckoning you again, then something tells me that’s where your heart and interests lie.

Friday, September 17, 2010

6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook

by Kathy Kristof

The whole social networking phenomenon has millions of Americans sharing their photos, favorite songs and details about their class reunions on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and dozens of similar sites. But there are a handful of personal details that you should never say if you don't want criminals — cyber or otherwise — to rob you blind, according to Beth Givens, executive director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

The folks at also say that ill-advised Facebook postings increasingly can get your insurance cancelled or cause you to pay dramatically more for everything from auto to life insurance coverage. By now almost everybody knows that those drunken party photos could cost you a job, too.

You can certainly enjoy networking and sharing photos, but you should know that sharing some information puts you at risk. What should you never say on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site?

Your Birth Date and Place

Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and where you were born too, you've just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life, said Givens. A study done by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — and sometimes all — of the numbers in your Social Security number, she said.

Vacation Plans

There may be a better way to say "Rob me, please" than posting something along the lines of: "Count-down to Maui! Two days and Ritz Carlton, here we come!" on Twitter. But it's hard to think of one. Post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like. But don't invite criminals in by telling them specifically when you'll be gone.

Home Address

Do I have to elaborate? A study recently released by the Ponemon Institute found that users of Social Media sites were at greater risk of physical and identity theft because of the information they were sharing. Some 40% listed their home address on the sites; 65% didn't even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings. And 60% said they weren't confident that their "friends" were really just people they know.


You may hate your job; lie on your taxes; or be a recreational user of illicit drugs, but this is no place to confess. Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire — and, sometimes, who to fire. Need proof? In just the past few weeks, an emergency dispatcher was fired in Wisconsin for revealing drug use; a waitress got canned for complaining about customers and the Pittsburgh Pirate's mascot was dumped for bashing the team on Facebook. One study done last year estimated that 8% of companies fired someone for "misuse" of social media.

Password Clues

If you've got online accounts, you've probably answered a dozen different security questions, telling your bank or brokerage firm your Mom's maiden name; the church you were married in; or the name of your favorite song. Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? You're giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.

Risky Behaviors

You take your classic Camaro out for street racing, soar above the hills in a hang glider, or smoke like a chimney? Insurers are increasingly turning to the web to figure out whether their applicants and customers are putting their lives or property at risk, according to So far, there's no efficient way to collect the data, so cancellations and rate hikes are rare. But the technology is fast evolving, according to a paper written by Celent, a financial services research and consulting firm.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Job Openings Up After Two Months of Decline

Job openings rose in July after two months of declines, a positive sign that companies could step up hiring in the coming months. The Labor Department says the number of jobs advertised rose by 6.2 percent to 3.04 million. That's the highest total since April, when temporary census hiring inflated that month's figure. Even with the increase, total openings remain far below the 4.4 million that existed in December 2007, when the recession began. [Source: Lakeland Ledger]

Friday, September 10, 2010

6 Career-Killing Facebook Mistakes

by Erin Joyce

With more than 400 million active visitors, Facebook is arguably the most popular social networking site out there. And while the site is known for the casual social aspect, many users also use it as a professional networking tool. With that kind of reach, Facebook can be a valuable tool for connecting to former and current colleagues, clients and potential employers. In fact, surveys suggest that approximately 30% of employers are using Facebook to screen potential employees – even more than those who check LinkedIn, a strictly professional social networking site. Don't make these Facebook faux-pas – they might cost you a great opportunity.

1.Inappropriate Pictures
It may go without saying, but prospective employers or clients don't want to see pictures of you chugging a bottle of wine or dressed up for a night at the bar. Beyond the pictures you wouldn't want your grandparents to see, seemingly innocent pictures of your personal life will likely not help to support the persona you want to present in your professional life.

2.Complaining About Your Current Job
You've no doubt done this at least once. It could be a full note about how much you hate your office, or how incompetent your boss is, or it could be as innocent as a status update about how your coworker always shows up late. While everyone complains about work sometimes, doing so in a public forum where it can be found by others is not the best career move. Though it may seem innocent, it's not the kind of impression that sits well with a potential boss.

3.Posting Conflicting Information to Your Resume
If you say on your resume that your degree is from Harvard, but your Facebook profile says you went to UCLA, you're likely to be immediately cut from the interview list. Even if the conflict doesn't leave you looking better on your resume, disparities will make you look at worst like a liar, and at best careless. (Social networking can also be used as its own job. Learn more in Make Money With Social Networking Sites.)

4.Statuses You Wouldn't Want Your Boss to See
Everyone should know to avoid statuses like "Tom plans to call in sick tomorrow so he can get drunk on a Wednesday. Who cares that my big work project isn't done?" But you should also be aware of less flamboyant statuses like "Sarah is watching the gold medal hockey game online at her desk". Statuses that imply you are unreliable, deceitful, and basically anything that doesn't make you look as professional as you'd like, can seriously undermine your chances at landing that new job.

5.Not Understanding Your Security Settings
The security settings on Facebook have come a long way since the site started. It is now possible to customize lists of friends and decide what each list can and cannot see. However, many people do not fully understand these settings, or don't bother to check who has access to what. If you are going to use Facebook professionally, and even if you aren't, make sure you take the time to go through your privacy options. At the very least, your profile should be set so that people who are not your friend cannot see any of your pictures or information. (These rules apply to Twitter as well, and you can also use Twitter to find a new job. Find out more in Tweet Your Way To A Sweet Job.)

6.Losing By Association
You can't control what your friends post to your profile (although you can remove it once you see it), nor what they post to their own profiles or to those of mutual friends. If a potential client or employer sees those Friday night pictures your friend has tagged you in where he is falling down drunk, it reflects poorly on you, even if the picture of you is completely innocent. It's unfortunate, but we do judge others by the company they keep, at least to some extent. Take a look at everything connected to your profile, and keep an eye out for anything you wouldn't want to show your mother.

Facebook Can Help You Get Hired … Or Fired
The best advice is to lock down your personal profile so that only friends you approve can see anything on that profile. Then, create a second, public profile on Facebook purely for professional use. This profile functions like an online resume, and should only contain information you'd be comfortable telling your potential employer face to face. Having a social networking profile is a good thing – it presents you as technologically and professionally savvy. Just make sure your profile is helping to present your best side – not the side that got drunk at your buddy's New Year's party.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nine Tips for Starting Out or Starting Over

By Pat Boer, Monster Contributing Writer

Whether you're a new graduate or career changer, starting a career takes a lot of motivation and energy.

If you're confident and know what you want, taking that first step is easy. But if you don't know where to begin or if you dread making that initial move, starting out -- or starting over -- is much more difficult. These tips will help get you going.

1. Have Your Hair Styled or Cut

Good grooming is essential to making a good first impression. You may find looking good makes you feel good and gives you confidence.

2. Shop for an Interview Outfit

You'll need proper interview clothes. Why not buy now and be prepared? Just as having your hair styled may jump-start your search, investing in the right interview outfit is another way to gain a professional edge.

3. Get Reconnected

If you've put off your search, chances are you've also withdrawn from family and friends. You may have avoided them, because you hate answering the question, "Have you found a job yet?" Give up thinking that you need to land a job on your own. No one succeeds alone. Get reconnected to stop cutting yourself off from the very people who care and can help.

4. Visit a Large Bookstore

Browse the career sections of large bookstores, where you can review the latest books on career fields. Other publications, such as Odd Jobs: Portraits of Unusual Occupations, highlight interesting jobs and unusual small businesses.

5. Take Vocational Tests

If you still don't have a clue about what you want with respect to your career, invest in vocational testing. Many vocational tests, now available online, help you identify career values and employment options. Some, like the Strong Interest Inventory and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, require you to contact a career counselor. Others are self-tests, like the Holland Self-Directed Search and the Values Identification Inventory.

6. See a Career Counselor

If you prefer talking things out or want individual attention (and who doesn't?), find a qualified career counselor to help you sort through your interests and make plans. A career counselor will help you focus your goals, prepare your resume and prep for interviews.

7. Surf the Net

Use Monster to find jobs, research companies and ask experts your career-related questions.

8. Join a Professional or Trade Association

This is a great way to find a wealth of information on your field and keep abreast of trends and salaries. Most associations also have job banks. And don't say you can't afford it. If you want to be successful, you need to pay your dues -- literally. In return, you'll find an easy way to get connected and gain support from people who share your ideas and values. If you want an inside track and an easy way to network, this is the place to start.

9. Trust the Process

A ball gathers momentum once it starts rolling. A job search is the same way. Once you begin, you'll find opportunities and eventually receive offers. So take your pick -- there are lots of ways to start.

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