The tech jobs hiring boom is real -- for these skills

After some tough years for IT and tech pros, high demand for tech workers is here in some areas -- and is expected to continue

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As job-seeker-turned-Ruby-developer Fluck discovered, the seemingly endless appetite for new mobile applications has spurred strong demand for programmers with skills in Ruby and JavaScript. Dice's listings for those two languages alone increased year over year by 67 and 53 percent, respectively. "But even people with C++, an older language, are hard to find," says Garage Technologies' Reichert. Akamai's Prokop seconds that opinion and added Python to the list of important skills for the times.

But what's hot is not limited to modern application development. Salesforce.com is eager to find employees with experience working with the cloud. "Cloud computing is not something people have built their careers on. Experience with it -- building or selling or marketing it -- is in high demand," says Salesforce.com's Martin.

Although Salesforce is looking for "skills across the board," Martin raises a point voiced by many technology executives: A grasp of business needs, both the customer's and the employer's, is key to landing and keeping a good job. "People need to be attuned to the use of technology," he says.

That goes double for smaller technology providers where everyone needs to think strategically. "We don't just build features in a backroom -- we try and figure out what users want. We create top 10 lists of things our customers say," says David Galvan, the president of Schedulicity, a young company focused on apps for scheduling appointments for small businesses, such as hair stylists.

Rachel Delacour, CEO of We Are Cloud, a French startup producing the SaaS BI application Bime, says, "We need support engineers who not only have the technical chops, but can get a sense of the customer's business and sell the benefits of cloud computing."

Is the tech jobs boom only for the young?
Age discrimination in tech is one of those issues that's always out there, but is rarely dealt with openly. Naturally, no company will admit to discriminating against older workers -- it's against the law. And when you don't get hired, it's a rare company that tells you why.

Kratell, that new hire at Kaazing, is 45 years old. "I applied to Facebook, and my friends laughed and says I was told old," he says. Despite a strong résumé and nibbles from employers like Google, Facebook didn't even give him an interview. Ageism? Kratell thinks it may have been, but there's no way to know for sure, and he says he's delighted with his new position.

Other job seekers tell similar stories and worry that complaining will make it even harder to find work. Gayle (she asked we withhold her name to protect her), a former manager in Hewlett-Packard's storage division, put it this way: "There is not much tolerance for age in this business. Older does not mean wiser in tech. It just means older."

Along with the anecdotes, there is some hard evidence that age discrimination really does exist in tech. The Bureau of Labor Statistics looked at the issue in a study released in early 2011 that shows that older IT workers have higher rates of unemployment than both younger IT workers and older workers in other professions.

In the category of computer and mathematical occupations, the overall unemployment rate for people 55 and over jumped from 6 percent to 8.4 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to the data. For those 25- to 54-year-olds in that job category, the unemployment rate fell from 5.1 percent in 2009 to 4.5 percent in the same period.

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