Friday, September 30, 2011

9 Hot IT Skills for 2012

9 Hot IT Skills for 2012
By Rick Saia

Computerworld - Slowly but surely, many U.S. companies are loosening their viselike grips on IT hiring and looking to add new staffers to bolster business growth in the year ahead.

That trend is reflected in Computerworld's annual Forecast survey. Nearly 29% of the 353 IT executives polled said they plan to increase IT staffing through next summer. That's up from 23% in the 2010 survey and 20% in the 2009 survey. Altogether, it's a 45% increase in hiring expectations over the past two years.

"We're seeing [strong hiring] across the board," among organizations of all sizes, says Mike McBrierty, chief operations officer for the technology staffing division of Eliassen Group, an IT recruiting firm. He says there has been pent-up demand for infrastructure upgrades and investments that had been shelved over the previous three years.

The Forecast survey also revealed that IT managers may be thinking about innovation, not merely keeping the lights on, as they plan their staffs for 2012. Respondents said these nine skills will be in demand.

1. Programming and Application Development

61% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, up from 44% in the 2010 survey.

This large year-over-year jump doesn't surprise people like John Reed, executive director of staffing firm Robert Half Technology, who sees demand for a variety of skills in areas ranging from website development to upgrading internal systems and meeting the needs of mobile users. "Web development continues to be very strong" as companies try to improve the user experience, he says, adding that there will also be a lot of effort to develop mobile technologies to improve customer access via smartphones.

Mobile application development is especially hot in healthcare, says Randy Bankes, associate director of IT at Lehigh Valley Health Network, a multicampus healthcare system in Allentown, Pa. Bankes says he's had a "god-awful hard time" trying to hire people with skills in mobile technologies. "It's competitive as hell right now," says Bankes.

Bill Predmore, director of enterprise application support at the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, also sees growth in mobile technology, especially in the transportation industry. "There's more and more of a push to implement whiz-bang Web stuff, along with making trip planners, [bus and train] route data and schedule data presentable on mobile devices," he says.

2. Project Management

44% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, up from 43% in the 2010 survey.

Big projects need managers, but they also need business analysts who can identify users' needs and translate them for the IT staffers who have to meet those needs and complete projects on time. "The demand has been more for business analysts than project managers," Reed says -- in other words, those who can help deliver projects rather than merely oversee and monitor them.

That's what Sean Masters discovered when he embarked on a job search in March. "When I was framing myself as a systems, network, security or other administrator role, I was hardly getting any attention," says the IT professional from Worcester, Mass. "As soon as I shifted my résumé to list those specific technologies used in accomplishing specific projects, I was suddenly framing myself as an engineer who could not only manage systems, but also plan, design and implement them."

3. Help Desk/Technical Support

35% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, down from 43% in the 2010 survey.

As long as technology is used in the workplace, there will be a need for support staffers, be they internal or remote. And in organizations such as Lehigh Valley Health Network, help desk and tech support are points of entry for IT professionals and places to pick up the skills that can advance them into, say, a programming or systems analyst role, says Bankes.

But mobile operating systems "have added a new dimension to help desk and tech support," says David Foote, CEO of IT staffing consultancy Foote Partners. "There are so many operating systems now that the mobile platform, and especially tablets, have quickly shoved aside the old Windows/Mac OS PC desktop axis."

4. Networking

35% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, down from 38% in the 2010 survey.

Robert Half's Reed says IT professionals with networking skills continue to be in high demand and have been "for a few quarters." That demand has been fueled, in part, by virtualization and cloud computing projects. In fact, during his recent job search, Masters says he saw heavy interest in virtualization skills.

Reed says hiring managers are looking for people with "practical work experience" in the networking arena, especially if they have worked in an organization that has migrated to a virtualized or cloud-based environment. In particular, they're looking for people with VMware and Citrix experience.

As for certifications, they're important but they're "not driving the market one way or the other," he says.

5. Business Intelligence

23% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, up from 13% in the 2010 survey.

Eliassen Group's McBrierty says his firm is starting to see more demand for IT professionals skilled in BI. The uptick indicates a shift from focusing on cost savings to investing in technology that provides access to real-time data, enabling better business decisions.

That may happen at Lorillard Tobacco, says Dan Clark, manager of server and desktop technology. The $6 billion company is looking to expand its use of Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software from about 175 users to more than 2,000, he says. "This will require additional head count to develop and administer," Clark says, adding that he's especially interested in SharePoint developers.

6. Data Center

18% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, down from 21% in the 2010 survey.

Like networking, data center operations will be impacted by organizations' virtualization and cloud strategies. In particular, Reed says, hiring managers will be looking for IT professionals with backgrounds in data center operations and systems integration.

In addition, the demands of having data available to achieve guaranteed IT service levels underscore the need for people who are experts in disaster recovery and business continuity, according to Bob Cuneo, CIO at Eliassen Group. Companies need to ensure that the systems that users depend on will be there when they need them, and those systems need to be backed up and replicated, he says.

7. Web 2.0

18% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, up from 17% in the 2010 survey.

Technical skills centered around social media remain in demand today, as more industries look for ways to integrate Web 2.0 technologies into their infrastructures, and Reed says he expects that demand to continue in 2012. He sees .Net, AJAX and PHP as key back-end skills, with HTML, XML, CSS, Flash and Javascript, among others, on the front end. "Organizations know they need to engage their customers via online platforms, and professionals who can support these initiatives will continue to command a premium in 2012," Reed says.

8. Security

17% plan to hire for this skill the next 12 months, down from 32% in the 2010 survey.

The one-year drop may be surprising given that information security threats are a moving target, but security is a top-level concern for many organizations, especially those that are considering cloud computing as part of their IT strategies, says Reed.

Corey Peissig, senior vice president of technical operations at Mortgagebot, a Web-based mortgage software provider, says security is a top priority at his company. "Strong technical security and auditing skills are in high demand in our business," he says. "The challenge is that good talent in this arena is sometimes difficult to find."

9. Telecommunications

9% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, down from 17% in the 2010 survey.

"We have an aggressive agenda to upgrade communications systems," with a strong need for voice-over-IP help, says Laurie Connors, a human resources official who handles IT hiring at Partners HealthCare, a Boston-based healthcare organization that includes the renowned Massachusetts General Hospital.

That's why Partners will be looking for telecommunications expertise in the coming year. Foote says he sees demand for people with IP telephony skills, and for those familiar with Cisco IPCC call center systems.

Although there may be some concerns about the resiliency of the U.S. economy over the next year, the three-year trend in hiring plans highlighted in Computerworld's Forecast survey indicates that IT hiring budgets are expanding. "We're in a cycle now where it's more about innovation than cost savings," says Reed. "You can only create so much efficiency, [and] you can only reduce so much cost."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Leave on a Positive Note

Leave on a Positive Note
How to Write a Letter of Resignation
By Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert

Whether you're on your way to a great new position or unhappily leaving your employer for personal or career-related reasons, you need to write a resignation letter.

The main goal of your letter is to inform your employer about the details of your resignation, but the underlying benefit is a chance for you to strengthen your relationship with your supervisor/colleagues and leave on a positive note. Approach the letter as if you're writing a thank-you note, and you'll be on the right track. The following tips will help:

The Introduction

Your letter's introduction should indicate that you are resigning and should provide your last day of employment. For example: "Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation from my position as [job title]. My last day of employment will be [date] ."

The Body

The body of your letter should mention your reason for leaving and show your gratitude for the experience the job has given you. Here are a few ways to state that you are leaving, based on your situation:

Found a New Job: “I have accepted a position as [job title] in [location], which will give me the supervisory responsibilities I have been eager to assume."

Starting School: “I regret having to leave [employer name], but I am strongly committed to earning my [degree type] and have been accepted to [school name] for the fall term."

Medical Reasons: “I regret having to leave, but I am currently experiencing medical issues that prevent me from continuing in this position."

Partner Relocation: “My wife/husband has been offered an excellent job opportunity in [location], and we have decided to move there so that she/he can accept it."

Relocation Refusal: “The company's restructure has left many of my colleagues looking for new positions, so I am grateful for your offer of reassignment to the office. However, my family and I have decided that relocation is not feasible for us right now."

Bad Experience: “My decision to leave is based on both personal and professional reasons, but please understand that I have thoroughly enjoyed my association with [company name]. I have learned a great deal from you, and I look forward to applying this knowledge in my next position."
You may also mention that you appreciate the opportunity to work with your supervisor and other team members. If you name-drop, be careful not to exclude anyone. Remember that your letter may make the office rounds. If appropriate, state your willingness to help with the transition; for example, you might offer to train your replacement.

The Closing

End your letter with an expression of kind wishes and interest in keeping in touch. For example: “I hope that we can continue our professional relationship and that we meet again in the future. Best wishes to you and to the rest of the staff.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Choosing Your Resume Strategy: Specialist or Generalist

By Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs

In a buyer's market, you may be tempted to throw all your skills on your resume, praying that the sheer variety of your experiences will overwhelm an employer. After all, you wouldn't want a potential employer to overlook that one gem in your background that could really set you apart.

But does the generalist resume work best today? Not necessarily. Recruiters say emphasizing the breadth of your experience depends on what you're looking for.

The Generalist's Advantages

Positioning yourself as a generalist could be effective if you:

-Target Small Companies: "A company with fewer than 500 employees may see a job seeker with a broad base of skills as giving them more for their money," says Dave Upton, founder and CEO of ExecuNet. At tiny companies or startups, a broad array of skills is often essential due to the need to wear different hats, Upton added.

-Target Downsizing Companies: Organizations that consolidate functions will often want someone who can do many things, such as a single HR generalist who can handle compensation and benefits as well as recruiting functions, says Stefanie Cross-Wilson, co-president of recruitment and talent management at Hudson.

-Will Take Any Job: Recruiters agree that the scattershot approach yields scattershot results even in the best of times. But if you simply want a foot in the door of a company -- any company, doing anything, anywhere -- selling yourself as a jack-of-all trades could pay off.

The Specialist Positioning

Selling yourself as a specialist is preferable if you:

-Know Exactly What You're Looking For: If you're sure about what you want and know how your skills match up to the requirements, make the case that you're the one they need and don't muddy your resume with a variety of unrelated skills.

-Work in a Competitive Industry: These days, employers who used to receive dozens of resumes for a position may see hundreds or thousands. The person who fits the job best, particularly in a competitive field, is more likely to get the job than someone who can do a bit of everything, recruiters say.

-Seek a Job Requiring Specialized Skill: An employer filling a job that requires deep knowledge of industrial automation, forensic accounting or video game design, to name a few, can usually find a candidate with the exact skills to match the job. If you don't have the specific skills, your knowledge of gardening, accounting or music theory, while nice to have, won't make up that deficit.

The Best Approach

Still not sure which approach is best? Recruiters recommend playing it safe by positioning yourself as a "specialist, with breadth." To do this:

-Research a job opening and the company to find out exactly what skills are needed and what other skills might be useful.

-Emphasize the depth of your expertise in the most necessary job skills -- the ones that actually match the job description -- and add your compatible skills at the bottom of the resume.

-Don't send out a hodgepodge resume. You're more likely to confuse the recruiter or the hiring manager, who may think of you as a dabbler without depth.
This tactic, recruiters say, will cover your bases by showing the breadth and depth of your skills, and that could be a winning combination in a tight job market.

"When more people are vying for the same jobs, it's even more important to show your skills fit well," says Lindsay Olson, partner and recruiter at Paradigm Staffing. "If you are a generalist, then you should be able to tweak your resume to fit the position. A resume should show me how you fit the requirements, not make me guess."

Cross-Wilson agrees. "If you possess the 'nice to have' skills, then show them, but not at the expense of the 'must have' skills," she says. "In most cases, if you are not competitive on the must-haves, you will not get the job."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Should you send a thank you letter after an interview?

Should You Send a Thank-You Letter After an Interview?
By Margot Carmichael Lester, Monster Contributing Writer

Does sending a thank-you letter after an interview really make a difference? Could it possibly influence the hiring decision in a positive way? Should you even bother? We asked several experts for their thoughts, and here’s what they had to say.

Point: Interview Thank-You Letters Have Impact

“Sending a well-crafted and timely thank-you note can add a positive impression to an already positive connection,” says Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent, a Cincinnati firm specializing in talent acquisition, recruiting and staff development. “While it won't likely make the difference in getting hired, it can help them to remember you in the sea of people that they interact with on a daily basis.”

Ken Goldman, a partner with ImproSells, a Jersey City, New Jersey-based communication training company, agrees. “If you're not going to take the extra steps to get the job, what will you be like six months in? I think it reflects poorly on the candidate.”

The extra effort on the part of one candidate made a difference to Carol Galle, president and CEO of Special D Events, an event-planning firm in Royal Oak, Michigan. “I recently filled an open position for which I had two highly qualified candidates, but it was a thank-you note that made the difference,” she says. “[One candidate] took the time to create a custom two-dimensional note card with our company's logo and a sincere, handwritten message of thanks. I want to hire people who genuinely want to work for my company, and it was clear from her effort that was the case.”

Counterpoint: Notes Don’t Make a Difference

“A thank-you note is seen as good taste and polite, but I’ve never seen it come close to making a difference in a hiring decision,” says Sharon Siegel, a recruiter and career coach with a 140,000-employee organization in the New York City area and owner of SharonCC, a career-consulting company. “If someone meets the credentials and has a great interview, we're not going to change our minds on making an offer if a thank you isn't received. On the other side, if someone has a terrible interview or would not be able to do the job, sending a beautiful thank you doesn't make me change my mind.”

Some folks feel sending a thank-you letter after an interview can actually hurt your chances under certain circumstances. “It is better to not send one, especially if you are not a good writer or [if you] have really poor handwriting,” says Kristine Dunkerton, an attorney and executive director of the Community Law Center in Baltimore. “Even if you are a good writer with good handwriting, I don’t think it is a great idea because it makes you seem a bit desperate.”

The Final Word

While a thank-you letter may or may not make a difference in hiring, it’s still probably a good idea to send one. “While many recruiters and hiring managers say they don't care about thank-you notes anymore and don't pay attention to them, you never know if the person that you're interviewing with does care,” McClure says. “So it's best to make sure that you check the box and send the note. If they don't care about it, then it didn't hurt. If they do, then you met their expectations.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

Revamp Your Online Image

Revamp Your Online Image
By staff

Many young professionals are all over the Web, especially on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. But what might be cute and funny to friends and family may not be as humorous to potential employers (such as pictures from that blowout party you attended on New Year’s Eve). It’s not surprising that with the ease and affordability of search engines, employers can and do eliminate job candidates based on an applicants’ online image.

In a 2005 survey of 102 job recruiters by ExecuNet, 75 percent said that they utilize search engines to research job candidates, and 26 percent have eliminated candidates based solely on what they have uncovered online.

Whether you’re a new graduate looking for your first professional gig, or have already gotten your feet wet in the professional world, you need to keep tabs on your online image. You spend so much time on your resume -- be careful about the rest of your online profile as well. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Beware of social paparazzi: With blogs and photo-sharing sites abounding on the Web, there’s no telling where that picture a fellow partygoer snapped is going to end up. While you should have a good time when you’re out, keep in mind that you never know when the spotlight might shine on you. (In other words, when someone tempts you to do a keg stand, think twice before assuming the position.) You wouldn’t want damaging pictures or videos surfacing on the Internet featuring you as the star.

Do your own PR: The trick to maintaining a positive online image is to increase the favorable content out there. Create a professional Web site or publish your resume online (leaving out your street address, Social Security number and other personal information). You can also create a blog that focuses on your industry or hobbies. Be sure to keep them updated and you’ll impress anyone who Googles your name.

Use technology wisely: Take advantage of new online job-searching technologies by uploading your resume to so that employees can find you using precision searches. Monster’s new precision search technology means candidate searches will no longer return hundreds of “so-so” options. They’ll come back with several great options most tailored to what the employer is looking for -- making sure your resume will meet its perfect match and not get lost in the crowd.

Bring in the authorities: If you come across a Web site that contains images or inappropriate information about you that you want deleted, contact the site’s Webmaster and request that the information be removed. If that doesn’t work, consider using, a paid service that trolls the Web for information about you and destroys harmful content.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Six Soft Skills That Could Land You the Job

By Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs

Wanted: Payroll manager with BA in accounting, five years of management experience, extensive knowledge of payroll principles and a sense of humor.

Wait. Humor? Now you have to reconcile W-2s, process checks and crack up coworkers? Has the job market become that competitive?

Not exactly. Employers seem to demand the moon these days, but they're really looking for candidates who may be easier to work with (assuming they already have the core skills to do the job). That means "soft," or intangible qualities, such as leadership skills, a sense of humor or being able to "play well with others," can be a strong competitive advantage for the job seeker. When a search comes down to two systems analysts with similar backgrounds and core competencies, the one who also may be a better "team player" or who can "wear many hats" is more likely to get the nod.

Qualities You'll Need

"Today, employers want to see a candidate's ability to show value in the workplace beyond the job description," says Stefanie Cross-Wilson, co-president of recruitment and talent management at Hudson. "It's the tangible skills or core competencies that get you in the door. It's the soft skills that often get you the job."

Any of these six qualities could give you a competitive edge:

-Leadership/Team Building: Leadership skills are not only critical for supervisory positions, but also for candidates who may want rise to positions where they'll give directions to others, experts say.

-Team Player: Employers like people who play well with others. Even if the job you seek isn't officially part of a team, an employer may want examples of how you collaborated with people who don't report to you.

-Goal-Oriented Self-Starter: This doesn't necessarily require motivating others. While employers don't necessarily want loose canons or mavericks, they do appreciate people who don't need to be told what to do and can set their own tasks and follow through.

-Excellent Communicator: No matter what the core job duties are, the ability to write a coherent memo or email, give clear verbal instructions and help meetings run smoothly -- or, at least, not sabotage meetings -- will probably be needed.

-Flexibility/Multitasking Ability: Sometimes employers will call this the "ability to wear many hats." Most professionals have multiple job duties even in the best of times. In an environment rife with layoffs, managers are especially comforted knowing a candidate can take on even unanticipated tasks.

-Sense of Humor: Unless you're applying to Comedy Central, you don't have to make them double over laughing, according to John McKee, president and founder of and author of Career Wisdom. "While I don't hear recruiters asking for candidates who can tell a joke well, I do believe that evidence of light-heartedness and/or the ability to lighten up a tough situation is valued, and self deprecation seems to be well-received," he says.

Putting the Skills in Play

Other common soft skills demanded on job listings include "time management" (you can get everything done on time), "strong work ethic" (you're not inclined to take three-hour lunches) and "problem solver."

Though you might be able to hint at any of these qualities on your resume, it's really in an interview where you let the skills shine. "At interview time, most hiring managers are digging deeper into core skills, but also evaluating soft skills, which depend on what is necessary for the position," says Lindsay Olson, partner and recruiter at Paradigm Staffing.

You don't have all of these soft skills? Don't worry. Even in today's job market, it's not necessary to be superhuman. "Employers don't expect you to be brilliant at everything," Cross-Wilson says. "In the interview you can be honest if there is a weakness you have. If you are able to be relaxed and be yourself, they'll see you as authentic."

Build Mini-Stories

Olson suggested that job seekers build "mini-stories" around the soft skills they think would be valuable for the job and share them at the interview. "You should prepare specific examples of how you dealt with a specific task or issue that will help others understand you have skills to solve their problems too," she says.

What if you don't think you have the necessary soft skills to land the job? It's not like you can take a class to boost your sense of humor, but you can ask a mentor or a friend for help in improving, for example, your email etiquette. Many soft skills can be built or improved on the job, experts say. Consider volunteering for more responsibility, or jump at the chance to be on a team, so that you'll have anecdotes to tell on your next interview.