The United States may or may not default on its debts. But either way, nobody serious expects a strong economic recovery for the foreseeable future. That's why now may be the best time to find an IT job: Some companies are still hiring to make up for freezes imposed during the miserable depths of the recession. After that, who knows?
So as they say on TV, act now. As we reported in Robert Strohmeyer's feature last month, "The 6 hottest new jobs in IT," the slew of new IT jobs added over the past year has been impressive. Then, in early July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that overall stats for June were pretty miserable. One month of bad numbers doesn't equal a double dip. But whether you're on the fence about jumping to a better job or still trying to escape the ranks of the unemployed, now is the time to get moving before a window of opportunity closes.
Following the herd
Where to look? The IT job market probably shifts faster than any other, so you have to keep up with the trends. Some of them, like the rise of cloud computing and mobile technology, couldn't be more obvious. But how do they translate to jobs?
As I noted last week, I think developers will be the big winners of the cloud era because shorter development, test, and deployment cycles mean better apps and more opportunities. But that also goes for mobile, with Objective-C skills for the iPhone and Java skills for Android or BlackBerry in high demand. And of course, the need for those will HTML5 skills has also increased.
As InfoWorld's Neil McAllister recently observed in his Fatal Exception blog, HTML5 has been way overhyped as an app dev panacea. But you can't ignore that the hype has yielded extraordinarily high demand. The job site Indeed.com names HTML5 as its top trend and offers this hockey stick showing the increase in the number of job postings with "HTML5" in them.
Elsewhere on the Indeed.com site, you'll find similarly dramatic rises in jobs mentioning mobile apps, Android, and jQuery. Interestingly, those mentioning iPhone have slipped a little in recent months, although iPhone remains the No. 8 trend featured by the site.
Check out the Simply Hired jobs site, and you'll find a nice chart tracking the percentages of jobs postings that mention Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby from November 2009 through May 2011. While Perl remains on top, PHP and Ruby jobs have grown most sharply, with increases of over 50 percent.
As for where not to look, I think there's little doubt that as we enter the cloud computing era, old-fashioned sys and network admin jobs will decline -- and the ones that remain will require new, more sophisticated skills. After all, a big part of the whole cloud idea amounts to "increasing efficiency," which means replacing human maintenance of the data center with automation.