Making the transition to new IT employment
My other former students aren't as confident in the economy just yet. One is working for the same company doing the same hours, and he doesn't plan to make any changes. He's happy to have a job and feels if he can make it through the cuts in his department, which apparently come monthly, sometimes weekly, he'll see stability at some point.
It's hard to know what to tell folks who ask me about the IT economy at this point. I read the salary surveys; they seem promising, but I also hear of many IT pros looking for work for years without results. For some, it's not that they have jumped ship; they've been thrown overboard.
My recommendation in both cases is simple:
Put together a modest nest egg that will help you last through the months you may not have work should you be laid off. You'll have unemployment to fall back on, but it likely won't cover your expenses. If you can supplement with your own savings, that would help relieve the stress of not finding employment fast.
Before going from one bad job to another, map out (with your family, if that applies) your priorities. Do you prefer to work from home or partially work from home? Would you like to make sure you're home on the weekends, or is on-call weekend work not such a big deal? Give serious thought to your dream schedule and circumstances and make sure you're interviewing the job just as much as the job is interviewing you.
Try to muster up that old-school admin confidence and strength that we had in days of yore. There was a time where an IT admin made six figures and ruled their world. Those days are gone, but a modicum of confidence leads to a better interview. Remember, I said confidence, not arrogance. That just puts people off. It's an employer's market for sure. There is a bloat of IT admins willing to do the job for longer hours and less pay. Make yourself worth their consideration by being confident that you will add value to their organization.
In addition, consider using the time to learn technologies that you haven't had a chance to work with before. Virtualization, Exchange, and SharePoint are all good choices. I'm a big fan of certification as well. It used to be anyone could earn a certification, so certifications lost their value. But the balance has shifted, and these kinds of added credentials can make you more employable.
For those who are still employed, don't jump ship until you have a place to jump to. If you happen to be thrown overboard, consider your options carefully before getting into another slave ship.
This article, "Is your IT job worth keeping?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.