Tag Archives: looking in tech

  • The Art of Voluntarily Quitting Your Job


    The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that droves of tech pros continue to voluntarily quit their jobs.

    Roughly 493,500 tech employees per month said sayonara to their current positions in the first two months of the second quarter (the latest data available). While that was a bit lower than the monthly average of 514,700 employees who left their jobs during the first quarter of the year, it was somewhat higher than the 444,700 employees who left every month during the second quarter of 2014.

    Considering the overall unemployment rate for the technology sector stood at 2.1 percent in the second quarter, that high level of voluntary quits isn’t surprising: If you’re a tech pro with the right combination of experience and skills, chances are good that multiple employers want to speak with you about a gig. The low unemployment rate means that tech pros don’t feel trapped in their current position by a bad economy—if they want to leave an unsatisfactory job, they can do so with comparatively little fear.

    But there’s a good way to quit a job. Even if you hate your current position, there’s little sense in burning bridges: You never know when you might end up working for someone again. Instead of storming out, give two weeks’ notice (at least), and don’t use your remaining time to settle old scores or grudges with colleagues who might have done you wrong. Instead, make sure to wrap up lingering projects and settle outstanding issues—that way, you leave on good terms with as many people as possible.

    If you’re going to quit, it’s also imperative to keep the rumor mill under control: You don’t want your superiors to hear about your plans from someone else. Say nothing to anyone until you’ve submitted your resignation note to your boss. Make sure that note expresses gratitude for your service with the company, even if you’re actually ambivalent about your time there.

    While you don’t have to reveal anything about your future plans—in fact, it might not be a great idea, at least until you’ve signed your contract with your new company—it behooves you to remain as honest and transparent as possible. Work to preserve your workplace relationships before you head out the door, and remember: The exit interview is not your time to vent your grievances.

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  • The White House’s New Plan for Hiring Tech Pros

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    If you’re a tech pro—or aspire to become one—President Obama wants to find you a job.

    The White House has announced the “TechHire initiative,” which will supposedly fill jobs in everything from software development and network administration to cybersecurity. In order to fill those jobs, the initiative will offer a combination of investment and job placement, with a focus on underserved communities. Here’s the proposal:

    $100 Million in ‘Federal Investments’

    That money will go to training and recruiting workers for in-demand technology fields. “The Administration will launch a $100 million H-1B grant competition by the Department of Labor,” read the White House’s press release, “to support innovative approaches to training and successfully employing low-skill individuals.” That training will include work-based learning programs and registered apprenticeships.

    Community Collaboration

    Some 21 regions across the country will work with one another to recruit and place applicants in some 120,000 open technology jobs, in conjunction with “300 employer partners.” Those regions include:

    New York City
    City of Kearney and Buffalo County, Neb.
    St. Louis
    Salt Lake City
    San Antonio
    Los Angeles
    Kansas City
    Rural Eastern Kentucky
    San Francisco

    Each region will supposedly use sophisticated data analytics to determine the most in-demand skills among local employers, and work with those employers to hire from “both traditional and nontraditional training programs.” These programs will rely on coding boot camps and online courses to accelerate training, and encourage interactions between employers and candidates via meetups and co-working spaces. In New York City, for example, companies such as Google and Facebook will work to connect students from the City University of New York (CUNY) with internships at local companies.

    Private Sector

    Under the terms of the announced plan, private companies will provide free online training and coding boot camps for low-income and “underserved Americans.” The White House claims that national organizations “are committing to work with interested cities to share job and skills information, job-matching tools, and other resources.” For example, Dev Bootcamp, Hack Reactor, Microsoft, Treehouse Island, and Udacity are all offering free or discounted training for underserved communities.

    However the White House’s initiative pans out, one thing is clear: For those tech pros with the necessary skills, the salaries can be very good indeed. Check out the latest technology jobs.

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  • Six Tips for Acing Your Panel Interview


    The panel interview, at some companies, is the last stop in a multi-step search process. Other firms see it in a more informal light, as a way for people within a division to learn a bit more about a candidate. Whatever the approach, a panel is often an intimidating experience for job seekers—but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    It’s important to remember that the panel is not an interrogation chamber: You wouldn’t be in the seat if you didn’t already meet significant criteria. For employers, it’s a time-efficient way to bring all the parties involved together for a conversation about what you can bring to the table.

    Here are six tried-and-true steps to making the most of your panel experience:

    Research and Practice

    If possible, prepare by researching each of the people with whom you’ll meet; check LinkedIn and other social networks for profiles and comments that can give you necessary background information. This is an incredibly valuable step: The intelligence you gather will make you better able to anticipate the mood of the interview and inform your approach.

    “Your search may uncover some interesting information, e.g., that they have only been at the company for a short while, which can be a red flag; or that you share people, interests and/or experiences in common,” said Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. “If you happen to know people at the company, reach out and ask them if they would be willing to offer insight on any of the individuals.”

    Cohen, noting the sometimes-complicated dynamic of a panel, strongly advised practice and focus prior to going in: “You’re juggling the attention of a number of stakeholders… Be prepared to explain the obvious; why you are there and what you have to offer.” Many candidates neglect to think such things through.

    The Introduction

    “Make eye contact with everyone, and if it makes sense and you can easily reach everyone, shake hands,” recommended Miriam Salpeter, social media mentor, consultant and principal at Keppie Careers. “Don’t rank the people in order of importance based on job title or the org chart pecking order. Consider everyone on the panel important enough to impress.”

    If you’re lucky, someone will introduce you to everyone; but if not, ask for introductions before you start.

    Active Listening

    There is a lot going on at once in the room, so it’s critical you be an active listener and take moment before you respond. “When you show that you are a skilled listener,” Cohen said, “you also demonstrate that you have the potential to be an effective team member.”

    Since multiple people are observing you at the same time, even if only one person is speaking, it’s important to remain aware and mindful of your reactions. “Don’t bounce eye contact all around the room,” Salpeter added, “but work to connect with each person on the panel.” While you may be tempted to focus on those interviewers offering positive feedback, “don’t forget the stone-faced manager who may be the one with all the influence.”

    Mindful Speaking

    A measured response can go a long way. While there’s a right time in an interview for debate, discussion and opinion, candidates need to wait for the most appropriate moment. “You may forget the fact that an interview is essentially a conversation… not a debate and definitely not one-sided. Be patient,” Cohen advised. “Never speak over, or interrupt your interviewers, no matter how excited you may be, or if you disagree, or if they interrupt each other.”

    Always be prepared for your interviewers to drill down, he added: “Your interviewers are carefully listening, too, and while one may be interacting easily, another may be ready to pounce on any inconsistency you present.” While pushback may be inevitable, it’s unlikely to be a deal-breaker if you’re ready and responsive.

    Body Language

    Body language heavily influences how people perceive you. “Don’t let your body language indicate you’re tired or bored with the questioning,” Salpeter said. “Also, avoid slumped shoulders, downcast eyes, remaining expressionless or frowning.”

    Follow Up

    Whether it’s three or 13 people in the room, you must follow up with all of them. If possible, ask the point person who arranged your interview to provide email contacts for each of the interviewers. If it’s a large group, it’s permissible to send a group email. If it’s a handful of people, write individual thank-you notes.

    The follow-up should illustrate that you listened to their needs, challenges and concerns. Reiterate your unique qualifications and how you can meet their wants and needs. “If you don’t follow up to demonstrate your interest,” stressed Cohen, “another, and perhaps, less qualified candidate will.  That is how you level the playing field and beat out the competition.”

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  • Can Boot Camps Really Boost Tech Employment?


    Earlier this week, the White House unveiled an ambitious plan to train and employ millions of tech pros in 21 regions across the United States.

    Carrying out the plan—dubbed “TechHire”—will depend heavily on coding boot camps and accelerated training programs, which (at least in theory) will make candidates technically proficient in weeks or months rather than years. In addition, a number of big-name tech companies such as Facebook have pledged to take on certain candidates as interns, for on-the-job training.

    Check out the latest technology jobs.

    But can boot camps and online courses transform cities such as Louisville and Minneapolis into burgeoning tech hubs on the level of, say, New York or San Francisco? Regions with robust tech scenes (and equally strong tech-pro hiring) benefit from a number of factors, including close proximity to universities and incubators, low-cost spaces for startups, investment in IT infrastructure such as broadband, and affordable housing.

    There is a growing need for skilled tech talent nationwide, and multiple boot camps have sprung up in order to help meet that demand. Switchup, an organization that collects data on boot camps and programming schools across the nation, recently issued a list of its top 32 coding boot camps. In ranking those institutions, it took into account everything from alumni reviews and instructor quality to location and job support.

    Not everybody believes, however, that boot camps and accelerated courses can quickly fulfill the need for tech talent. “Two months doesn’t prepare you for identifying serious problems and overcoming them,” Jason Polancich, CEO of SurfWatch Labs, told the Wall Street Journal in February.

    Indeed, it can take years of experiences to learn all the quirks, tricks, and procedures that define working within many technology verticals. Some of the tech skills that pay the most—including Hadoop, MapReduce, Platform-as-a-Service software, and Cassandra—are highly specialized, and take quite some time to master.

    So while the administrators behind TechHire may be right in assuming that tech workers don’t necessarily need a four-year degree (or higher) to compete in the space, they should probably realize that growing the country’s reservoir of tech pros isn’t something that can be accomplished in a few months.

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  • Good Economy Equals Tech Pros Jumping Jobs

    shutterstock_PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek

    IT professionals seem to feel more comfortable about their economic security these days, and a lot of them are looking around for new jobs, increasing competition among employers for tech pros.

    According to a new survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Randstad Technology, some 41 percent of U.S. IT workers said they’re likely to seek new employment opportunities over the next 12 months, while 52 percent said they were confident in their ability to find a new job.

    Check out the latest technology jobs.

    At the same time, however, the poll found that 57.4 percent of IT employees were confident in the health of the overall economy, a slight dip from a record high noted in the third quarter of 2014. Forty-one percent of IT workers thought the economy was getting stronger, and 32 percent thought there were more jobs available. (Some 44 percent thought there were fewer jobs.)

    Bob Dickey, group president of technology and engineering at Randstad, suggested that employee confidence stems from their skills and what part of the country they live in. “Overall, IT employee confidence remains pretty high,” he said. “For that reason, a lot more needs to go into attracting the right IT talent.”

    Dickey noted that the cost of living in the region, training opportunities, and the culture of the organization all play a major role in attracting IT talent. But he also conceded that consolidation of data centers in the age of the cloud, along with increased IT automation, could affect the demand for certain types of IT jobs, as well as their location.

    In addition to datacenter consolidation, many lower-level IT administrative functions are being automated. The end result is more demand for IT people with higher-level skill sets. “We’re constantly getting poached,” said Steve Hellmuth, executive vice president of operations and technology at NBA Entertainment in New York. “Investment banks are where a lot of our people wind up going, so we’re always recruiting at the college level.”

    Factoring in that rate of turnover is now part of the organization’s basic business plan, Hellmuth added.

    Like it or not, the days when a soft economy gave employers leverage over IT staff are pretty much over. Some organizations may be trying to lower their costs by moving IT jobs to different locations. But for every IT professional who might be attracted by the lower cost of living in a particular region, there will always be another that can’t get enough of the bright lights of a major city.

    Given that need for talent, tech companies are focusing their recruiting efforts in areas outside of Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley. Louisiana announced that, as part of a 10-year deal involving IBM and CenturyLink, it will spend $4.5 million to expand computer science programs at the University of Louisiana, Louisiana Tech and Grambling State. As part of that arrangement, IBM committed to creating 400 jobs in Monroe, La., where it will open a service center to develop security, data analytics and mobile applications. Meanwhile, CenturyLink will transfer 350 employees to IBM, where they will become full-time employees employed in the new Monroe facility.

    With IT professionals fairly confident in their ability to find new jobs, expect more tech companies to make similar moves in order to increase their pools of IT talent.

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  • Will Your Next Employer Advance Your Career?

    shutterstock_Sergey Nivens

    A lack of career progression is the No. 1 reason why people quit their jobs, according to a list of deal-breakers compiled last year by BambooHR. Poor work-life balance came in second, with pay dissatisfaction the third-leading cause of worker defections.

    If these complaints sound familiar, you may already be seeking greener pastures. But how can you tell if your advancement and earning potential will be any better at another company? Here are four ways to investigate your chances of boosting your career (and your paycheck) at your next potential employer.

    Check the Forecast

    Business conditions play a significant role in creating a favorable climate to advance. A company that’s grown at a pretty fast clip (which is relatively common in tech, especially among startups) may be forced to pump the brakes if it runs short of cash.

    Check out the latest IT management jobs.

    “A company that’s struggling financially is going to limit raises and bonuses and delay promotions,” noted Scott Kukowski, a former IT manager and systems administrator who now works as a technology career coach for Wolfgang Career Coaching in Austin, Texas.

    In other words, you want to see what industry analysts and executives have to say about the company’s near-term business prospects and technology plans. Kukowski recommends AtoZdatabases and ReferenceUSA because they provide a wealth of information on public and private companies; job seekers can access the databases for free through public libraries.

    Chart Your Individual Path

    An IT manager or recruiter may communicate his or her company’s broad commitment to promoting from within, but does that commitment apply to technical promotions or just managerial roles? And when might such opportunities arise?  If you’re a midlevel programmer, for example, it may take several years to advance if the company just hired two senior-level programmers.

    “Don’t settle for vague generalities or broad statements,” Kukowski said. “Ask the hiring manager to describe the career path and estimated timeline for the specific role or position you want to pursue.” 

    “Ask to see an org chart,” recommended Ada James, a career and life coach based in Mountain View, Calif. “Companies can’t just create positions out of thin air, an org chart can help you visualize potential opportunities. If a hiring manager denies your request, it’s a red flag.”

    Consult Future Teammates

    If the hiring process doesn’t include a meet-and-greet with your prospective teammates, ask for one. You can’t come right out and ask someone what they’re making, but you can certainly ask general questions about performance reviews and raises, the rate of internal promotions, culture and turnover. It’s also okay to ask a prospective teammate about his or her career path and the company’s track record on promotions.

    “Tech people are pretty transparent and truthful,” Kukowski noted. “So if the company is in the habit of making promises it can’t keep, cutting pay or filling promotional spots with external hires, you’ll probably hear about it.”

    Review Compensation Data and Philosophy

    Tangible factors such as turnover, supply and demand, and profit margins shape a company’s compensation program, as well as intangible features including philosophy and market positioning. If you really want to earn more at your next stop, you need to consider salary data as well as the company’s transparency and viewpoint on rewards.

    “Once you receive an offer, it’s totally fair to ask HR about salary increases, including percentages, timing and the compensation range for higher level roles,” James said. “If they balk or decide to hire someone else, you may have dodged a bullet.”

    Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. “Discussing compensation and the opportunity to advance during the hiring process conveys what’s important to you,” she added. “If the manager gives short shrift to your needs, that company is probably not the best place to advance your career.”

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  • Why You Should Run Your Career Like a Startup


    Times are good in today’s technology job market. The IT unemployment rate is hovering below 3 percent and employers are scrambling to find developers and engineers. But that doesn’t mean a successful career is a foregone conclusion. Even in heady times, corporate needs evolve, the skills in demand change and some industries lose favor among consumers while new ones gain prominence. Business moves fast, and employer loyalty has all but vanished.

    “In today’s job market, nobody’s going to take care of you,” observed Ingrid Goldbloom Bloch, a career coach in Needham, Mass. “Companies are always changing and reorganizing, and you have to run your career as if you’re running your own business. If you’re always seeking advice, networking and seeing what’s in the market, you’re going to be a more marketable worker.”

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    Successful entrepreneurs have a plan for product development, marketing and finances. They build relationships across their industries and recruit a board of advisors to provide them with guidance and a sense of accountability. They track their progress closely, change approaches when they have to, and have an exit plan. It’s an approach that allows them to manage contingencies and leverage one success into another. You may not like thinking of yourself as a “product,” but taking an entrepreneur’s approach is a good model for effective career management.

    To start, organize your efforts along these lines:

    Define Your Product

    Yes, that’s you. The first step is to take a look at what you can offer employers. “This is about really understanding where you fit in the market,” Bloch said.

    Besides having a handle on your skills and how they stack up against your competition, you should have a sense of what you enjoy doing and where your long-term goals lie. There’s a difference between wanting to be an individual contributor and someone who seeks to move into management, for example. Both types of people offer real value, but they often solve different problems for the employer.

    Research the Market

    Don’t wait until you need a job to figure out who’s hiring or what’s happening in your industry, Bloch advised: “People work hard to get a job, but once they get it, they don’t keep their development going. It should be an ongoing process.”

    Keeping yourself up to date means you’ll always be ready to take advantage of new opportunities or make a move if circumstances change at your current job. In addition to following industry news and trends, use social media to keep an eye on where people are going—or leaving—and pay particular attention to organizations for which you’d like to work.

    Know Your Finances

    It goes without saying that you should know what kind of salary you need to pay your bills. You’ll negotiate better compensation for yourself if you follow the trends relating to pay, bonuses and benefits for people who have your level of skills and experience. Not only should you have a clear idea of what you want to make, you should know how your numbers compare to others in your industry and region.

    Create a Marketing Plan

    This is a good place to define the type of company you’d like to work for, including its size, industry focus and the type of culture it maintains. Identify specific organizations that seem like a good fit, research their business and operations, and plan the most effective ways to approach hiring managers on the inside.

    Undoubtedly, that will involve some networking. That’s a big part of job hunting, and it’s done more effectively when you have a plan. Think about which professional organizations you should join and your potential level of involvement in them. Look at your social media connections and create an approach to nurturing them so they’ll be more valuable. For some people, Bloch points out, this can be as simple as sharing an occasional article. For others, a date for coffee or lunch might make sense.

    Have a Development Plan

    Successful companies rarely survive long on a single product. They’re constantly updating and evolving to keep ahead of the market’s demands. The same is true of successful tech professionals.

    Each year, determine the skills you’ll need to refresh or learn, and don’t limit yourself to technical subjects. Soft skills are important, and if you need coaching in areas like writing or speaking, identify ways to get it, whether it’s through a coach, online course or community college. Once a quarter, step back to measure your progress.

    Form a Board of Advisors

    This needn’t be a group that meets formally, but rather a collection of people you can call on for advice and feedback several times a year. They’ll offer you different perspectives on challenges that arise at work or in your job hunt, and can help you spot opportunities or threats you might otherwise miss.

    Bloch recommends recruiting former bosses who have backgrounds similar to yours and are familiar with your work. In addition, consider asking a colleague who can help you read your company’s political tea leaves, or people from your network who hold positions like the ones you aspire to.

    Though many people find it difficult to actively plan and monitor their career beyond what’s involved in their day-to-day work, Bloch believes the dynamics of today’s job market make it important to do so. “We grow up trained to be externally driven, by grades, praise from our parents, ratings at work,” she said. “This whole approach means you have to be internally motivated. You’re doing it so you can be in charge of yourself.”

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  • Banish Your Job Ghosts

    Laschon Maximilian Shutterstock

    While you can survive a toxic workplace, the emotional aftereffects can linger long after you leave. Your pent-up anger and guilt can affect your future job search. Don’t let that happen; the ghosts of bosses past shouldn’t influence how you look for work.

    Sort It Out

    No matter how long ago the lousy job, if the very thought of it still grinds you up, you haven’t processed it. Maggie Graham, a certified professional career coach, notes that you can’t just package up the time you spent there and move on to the next job without some recognition of how it affected you: “If you don’t sort through the muck of the past, it’ll come back to haunt you by showing up in interviews.”

    Recognize Your Loss… and Learn From It

    There’s grief in endings: You’re leaving behind people, a place and habits that made up your days. With that in mind, consider what you’ve left behind at your old job, and determine if any of it had value.

    “That terrible job may have been a very bad fit, but what did you learn from it?” asked Jacqueline Whitmore, a business etiquette expert and author. “I worked as a flight attendant for a year and if that doesn’t teach you about human behavior, I don’t know what would.”

    Check out the latest technology jobs.

    Reframing the story is critical, she added: “You learn something from every job you have. A new job is not going to be like the job you hated. The people and place will be different.”

    You have the opportunity to build something new—but how do you begin exorcising yourself of the old? Graham suggested making checklists of your previous job’s benefits, as well as what you won’t miss about it, and measure those against your next job offer. “If you can’t recognize the qualitative variables that touched you,” she said, “you won’t be able to fully evaluate the next opportunity.”

    Find a Shoulder

    Here’s the thing: you never need to go back to your old, bad job. So move on. “You can’t sit in the negative,” Whitmore said. “No one wants to work with a complainer, even if they’re complaining about a very old job, that experience is not part of the present or future.”

    But that doesn’t mean you can’t commiserate with former colleagues and others in your industry. “It’s so helpful to know that you’re not alone and that others share the emotional aspect of your experience,” Graham said.

    Graham knows the power of a sympathetic shoulder. At one point, she ran a job-search group where the bulk of attendees came from one company that had laid off nearly 6,000 employees. “They sat together even if they didn’t know each other before they were laid off,” she said. “They called the first phase of their job searches the “[Company Name] Detox.” The attendees joked freely that they were going through deprogramming from a cult “because the intensity of [the old job’s] stressful culture consumed their whole lives.”

    When Graham met with clients from that company who chose not to attend the job search group, she found they struggled more than the group attendees to move on, and didn’t have as strong a success rate in converting phone interviews into in-person interviews.

    Once It’s Over, It’s Over

    Whitmore has been downsized four times in her career, but doesn’t feel angry about those particular events because it was “just business.” She believes her former employers were doing what they had to do to remain fiscally sound, and that kind of job loss simply isn’t personal… even if it feels that way.

    When the job itself was bad, Whitmore took what she could from it and moved on, because once something’s over, it doesn’t have to be repeated. “It’s true that not all jobs are a good fit,” she said. “If you find yourself back in another environment where what you’ve learned from past experiences makes it clear that it’s not working out, you can plan an exit. In this era, we all know it’s much more common not to stay in the same place for 25 years hoping you’ll get a gold watch.”

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  • IBM Layoff Rumors Fly Fast and Furious


    Rumors are flying fast and furious that IBM will lay off more than 100,000 workers sometime in the next few weeks. But news sources are reporting that the cuts will more likely be on the level of 10,000 jobs.

    The original report of mega-layoffs came from Robert X. Cringely, a self-described “Silicon Valley iconoclast,” who wrote in Forbes about an IBM reorganization codenamed Project Chrome. In Cringely’s telling, Project Chrome will result in the layoffs of 26 percent of IBM’s workforce, accompanied by a major restructuring of the company’s assets. The employee cuts will supposedly hit IBM’s mainframe and storage divisions the hardest. (Cringely’s reporting derives from anonymous sources.)

    For mainframe-related jobs, click here.

    “In saying the company is in a transition and is going to go through the biggest reorganization in its history, will this really fix a very obvious customer relationship problem?” Cringely concluded. “No, it won’t.”

    IBM told Cringely, in an update to his original article, that the cuts would come to only a few thousand people, not 100,000.

    Separately, an unnamed IBM spokesperson told TechCrunch that the layoffs would roughly total 12,000 employees—even as an anonymous source suggested the number would be much higher. “After we published this article, a source approached TechCrunch, telling us the layoff number was 10 percent of the workforce (or 43,000),” the publication reported, “and that the layoffs would be conducted in approximately 10,000 employee increments per quarter until the company righted the ship.”

    Whether or not any of these reports prove accurate, it’s undeniable that IBM is frantically attempting to transform into a firm that can better compete in a cloud- and mobile-centric world. Between its recent partnership with Apple to push iOS devices and apps to the enterprise, to its work in artificial intelligence, Big Blue clearly wants to push beyond Oracle and other business IT rivals. But what is the human cost of that reinvention?

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  • Finding Your Way as an Enterprise Architect


    Aspiring enterprise architects (EAs) have to navigate a winding, unmarked career path littered with inconsistent job titles, diverse duties and a plethora of frameworks in order to stake their claim in this emerging but confusing field.

    Brian Cameron, founder of the Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO) and executive director of the Center for Enterprise Architecture at Penn State University, thinks enterprise architecture is a hodgepodge of fiefdoms that desperately needs consistency: “The architectural frameworks and skill requirements vary by organization and industry.”

    For enterprise-architect jobs, click here.

    Given the lack of standardized job descriptions and training, and employers needing EAs pronto, it’s worth asking a few veteran enterprise architects how they found their current jobs, and how they deal with some of the industry’s quirks.

    Target Specific Roles and Industries

    If you want a job as an enterprise architect, start by pursuing a narrow range of positions in industries that align with your strengths, technical skills, functional knowledge and interests.

    Cameron estimates that 50 percent of practicing EAs have a technical background and 50 percent have a business or liberal arts background, which means there are plenty of opportunities for people with wide-ranging experience.

    EAs at major tech firms such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM or SAP usually need considerable software engineering or development experience and familiarity with the cloud and Big Data, explained Serge Thorn, who’s been an EA for 15 years.

    Major companies often employ large numbers of EAs, Thorn added, so not everyone’s involved with business-process modeling, portfolio management, IT governance, stakeholder communication and so forth.

    Conversely, an EA in a small- to mid-sized IT department typically focuses on enterprise-wide analysis, planning and design; as a result, he or she spends considerable time interfacing with stakeholders. Jobs in smaller companies also tend to require broader skills, business and functional acumen, and an understanding of global architecture.

    Don’t be discouraged by lengthy job descriptions for enterprise architects, advised Jason Uppal, chief architect and CEO for iCareQuality. Uppal started out as an aerospace engineer and has never worked in IT: “It’s unlikely that anyone would have all of the skills employers are currently demanding, so start with what you know and build from there.” 

    Acquire Critical Skills and Competencies

    Traditionally, enterprise architects have relied on decades of experience in order to do their jobs well. For example, Thorn honed his leadership and enterprise architecture skills over the course of 18 years while serving as an IT manager and later as the head of IT for a major global bank.

    But that paradigm is changing. In order to meet the growing need for practitioners, many universities now offer certificates for working professionals, alongside online master’s programs, that teach theoretical foundations, decision making and enterprise modeling.

    If you’ve worked in software development or engineering, systems design or administration, project management or a business-facing role on an ERP team, you may already possess many of the required skills and competencies for the EA position. After all, EAs spend most of their time selling their ideas, building trust and consensus, and communicating technical concepts to non-technical people. Sound familiar?

    You don’t need deep knowledge in any one area, Uppal said; it’s primarily a leadership role. “For instance, I’ve never coded in .NET in my life but I know how an application comes together,” he added. “Technologies come and go but the basic three-tier architecture hasn’t changed in 15 years. Most of the fundamental skills can be learned on-the-job as you go.”

    Assess your readiness by comparing your experience to the ideal competency levels outlined in this framework. Online courses, mentoring relationships, lateral moves and stretch assignments that offer enterprise or business exposure are the best ways to close major knowledge gaps.

    Another option is to use a subspecialty such as database architecture and administration, or network architecture and administration, as a stepping-stone to an enterprise-architect level.

    Learn an Architectural Framework

    Most companies use a hybrid enterprise architecture framework, according to Cameron. In fact, a recent industry study found that 66 percent of organizations had developed a customized framework. Fortunately, there’s no need to learn them all; just get familiar with a more popular framework such as TOGAF, ZachmanDoDAF or TRAK; or better still, learn the framework that is preferred by the companies in your target industry.

    And while a certification or two may increase your marketability and value, you don’t need one right away. “You could give a TOGAF manual to an industrial engineer and they’d recognize the concepts immediately,” Uppal said. “If you understand the industry, the architectural framework and have the right balance of interpersonal, strategic and technical skills, you have everything you need to make the leap into enterprise architecture.”

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  • Dice Salary Survey: Good Times for Tech Pros

    Dice Five Year Salary Trend

    Technology pay in the United States saw another year of hikes with technology professionals earning $89,450 on average annually, up 2 percent from 2013, according to Dice’s annual salary survey.  

    More than half (61 percent) of technology professionals earned higher salaries in 2014, most frequently citing a merit raise as the reason for the increase. Another 25 percent say they received higher wages due to changing employers within the year.

    Also, technical recruiters saw a significant jump (19 percent) in salaries in 2014, making $81,966 on average annually compared to $69,102 in 2013.

    In addition to salaries rising, tech bonuses were both more frequent and higher. 37 percent of tech pros cited receiving a bonus in 2014, slightly more than the 34 percent who said this last year. The average bonus in 2014 was $9,538, up 2 percent year-over-year.

    diceSalarySatisfactionWhile salaries rose slightly, satisfaction with wages declined. Half (52 percent) of technology professionals were satisfied with their compensation in 2014, down from 54 percent in 2013. In fact, satisfaction with salaries has dipped each year since 2012, when it peaked at 57 percent and salaries saw the biggest year-over-year jump to 5.3 percent.

    “As demand for technology professionals rises and highly-skilled talent is harder to find, the pressure is being reflected where it counts: paychecks,” said Shravan Goli, president of Dice.com. “Still, tech pros are less happy with their earnings, signaling to companies that in order to recruit and retain the best candidates, offering more will be necessary.”

    Tech professionals are more confident than ever (67 percent) that they could find a favorable new position in the year ahead and 37 percent anticipate changing employers for better opportunities.

    With compensation rising, tech professionals are slightly less likely to relocate for a new job this year (30 percent) as compared to last year (28 percent).

    Wages Rising Again in the West

    The Pacific region as a whole received the highest salaries and tech professionals in Silicon Valley are again the highest paid in the country, earning $112,610 on average, up 4 percent year-over-year. The second highest paid talent is in Seattle, where tech pros earned $99,423, up 5 percent, in 2014. Sacramento tech salaries rose 14 percent to $96,788, with more experienced professionals earning more from last year driving the growth. Professionals in Portland, Oregon earned $91,556 on average, up 9 percent year-over-year, and in San Diego, tech salaries rose 4 percent to $94,121.

    Money Markets

    Several key markets saw above-average pay increases including Boston and Chicago, up 3 percent year-over-year to $97,288 and $88,866, respectively. Dallas ($91,674) and New York ($95,586) professionals earned a 2 percent increase. Washington, D.C. tech salaries rose 1 percent to $98,323 on average making them the third highest paid professionals behind Silicon Valley and Seattle.

    Skills to Pay the Bills

    Big Data and cloud dominate the skills which earned the highest paychecks in 2014.


    “Cloud is not new to the tech world but as more companies—large and small—adopt the technology, tech professionals with this experience will enjoy opportunities,” said Mr. Goli. “Big Data made a big showing last year and we’re seeing it this year too. Tech professionals who analyze and mine information in a way that makes an impact on overall business goals have proven to be incredibly valuable to companies. The proof is in the pay.”

    For additional information on top paying skills in product, design, mobile, cloud and other categories, please visit www.dice.com/salary.

    Dice Salary Survey Methodology

    The 2014 Dice Salary Survey was administered online, with 23,470 employed technology professionals responding between September 29 and November 26, 2014. Respondents were invited to participate in the survey through a notification on the Dice site and registered technology professionals were sent an email invitation. A cookie methodology was used to ensure that there was no duplication of responses between or within the various sample groups and duplicate responses from a single email address were removed. The Dice Salary Survey was adjusted for inflation in 2014:  technology professionals earning salaries of $250,000 and above were not automatically eliminated from the survey if they met other criteria.

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  • Worst Entry-Level IT Jobs of 2015


    Entry-level IT jobs can either offer tons of responsibility and upside potential, or they can hammer you with low pay and endless tedium. In the latter case, you’re often left dealing with pushy developers and angry software customers, and the thankless work is never-ending. With that in mind, here’s Dice’s list of the worst entry-level IT jobs for 2015.

    Data Entry Technician: “This one is pretty boring, but it still needs to get done,” said Manoj Garg, managing partner of Virtual Information Executives, an IT advisory firm. Data entry technicians must be super detail-oriented, and the work is usually repetitive. If that wasn’t enough, the pay is notably low for IT: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports data entry technicians earned an average of $27,500 in 2012.

    Help Desk Technician: You have to start somewhere, and if you don’t have a computer science degree yet, you might enter the IT field as a help desk technician. According to the Dice Tech Salary Survey, help desk jobs paid an average of $42,512 in 2013, a drop of 3.8 percent from the prior year. “Given all of the work, the pay is low,” Garg said. “The employee has to think on their feet, all the while talking on the phone with irate IT customers, and solving their problems as quickly as possible.” It’s also a role that’s not your typical 9-to-5, so you might be working long hours and late nights.

    IT Tech Support Specialist: If you’re working in IT tech support, you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. The role involves everything from server and desktop maintenance to installing desktop computers, laptops, printers, and all software. It’s often a thankless job with relatively low pay despite the amount of work; The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average salary as $48,900 in 2012. Long and odd hours are also pretty common, said Jordan Goldmeier, CEO for Cambia Factor, a data-consulting agency. There’s also the need to deal with anxious and angry people who want their hardware and software issues resolved quickly. Yay.

    Data Migration Specialist: Data conversion from legacy systems is hard work, often fraught with cost overruns, delays, and the inevitable angry boss, Goldmeier said. About one-third of all data migration projects will go past deadline and overbudget, according to Bloor Research. The job can be quite overwhelming, so you’ll have to work hard to not get pigeonholed if you want to eventually move beyond data migration; salary can fluctuate, depending on whether or not data migration is a part of other enterprise resource planning work.

    Junior QA Tester: QA tester is a common job in software engineering departments, and a critical part of a software team. But developers tend to get the attention and respect, while entry-level QA testers work furiously in the background. Goldmeierreceived an offer for an entry-level QA tester position while still in college; the job manager told him that it was so easy that “a trained monkey could do it.” He also warned Goldmeier that, as he got better at testing the code, he would have to deal with the egos of the folks who wrote it. But at least there’s job mobility and more recognition as you move up the ranks: In the most recent Dice survey, QA testers earned an average of $75,444 in 2013.

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