Weekly Word on the Street: Software Engineering Ranked as #1 Best Job

by Jim Staats | Apr 12, 2012

Takeaway of the week is that apparently the Easter Bunny didn’t walk away with all the goodies in his basket last week. For those in the technical sector, more nuggets are there for the taking without much hunting, including the top spot in a new national poll of the best jobs in the U.S., good news for IT contractors and even a thumbs-up for Silicon Valley job seekers in their *gasp* 40s.

Bridging the IT Skills Gap
Job fillers are having trouble finding job seekers properly prepped in the latest technologies of cloud computing, wireless networking, mobile security and big data analysis. Therefore, IT managers are being forced to get creative to cover this skills gap, a new Computerworld article notes.
Since prospective workers trained in multiple sectors are proving to be a reach, IT managers are looking to hire workers trained in multiple disciplines, providing in-house cross-training and, in some cases, revamping their IT departments to bridge the gaps. The extra training being offered has multiple benefits.

David Richter, vice president of infrastructure solutions at Kimberly-Clark, said the training provided to address his firm’s IT restructuring is “focused on training people to make them more competent in their current role, and also for their next role.”

He said besides adding to the workers’ skill sets, the training allows CIOs some wiggle room from having to staff for specific skills. With business acumen becoming a more valuable tool for IT pros, training that helps educate on financial analysis, project management and decision-making processes are being seen as timely additions in today’s IT environment.

You’re #1!
The pay is great. The hiring need for the skill set is going bonkers. Working conditions are reportedly never better. No wonder it’s numero uno.

That’s what CareerCast.com’s annual report on the best jobs in the U.S. in 2012 had to say about software engineers.Yep, that role landed the top spot in the report based on job ratings compiled and reported by the online career site earlier this week.

In the report, Phil Danne, lead software engineer for Livio Radio, did note that while there are abundant opportunities right now for qualified professionals in his field, college graduates “can’t just earn your college degree and bank on those skills for the rest of your career. You have to constantly be seeking out the latest knowledge and skills to succeed.”

Other professions that rounded out the Top 5 included actuary, human resources manager, dental hygienist and financial planner.

Curious what made the cut for the site’s worst jobs of 2012?

That would include a newspaper reporter, dairy farmer, enlisted military soldier, oil rig worker all topped (or bottomed) by lumberjack.

IT Contractors Fill a Need
The IT contractor remains a valuable resource for corporations still seeking that balance between a struggling economy and ever-shifting technical needs. Expect the temporary technicians to continue to be in demand to bail out CIOs charged with juggling these polar opposite work requirements, hiring experts suggest in a recent article in PCWorld.

IT staffing firms see contractors as beneficial to companies that need to remain flexible with the work peaks and valleys amid economic struggles. When hiring and training internal workers doesn’t fit with a firm’s budget and schedule, hiring properly vetted contractors is the next best alternative, so say CIOs quoted in the article.

As Derald Sue, CIO of Inside Track, an academic coaching services firm in San Francisco, said, supplementing full-time staff with contractors prior to a recent platform upgrade is “just a much more cost-effective and faster way to grow our own internal workforce.”

Often the freelancers themselves enjoy the work and flexibility inherent in their temporary roles, not to mention the chance to be on the “bleeding edge” of new technology that keeps their minds sharp and billing rate moving upward.

The Elusive Purple Squirrel
Hiring managers seeking perfection in their technical talent search need to understand sometimes it’s not out there. For those who refuse to accept that, so goes the quest for the “purple squirrel,” amid today’s growing demand for tech talent, says one veteran IT executive.

In an opinion piece for Computerworld, Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing firm, Modis, said the colorful term is what he calls the ideal job candidate.

He also said it’s something that rarely exists because the skills IT professionals need are continually evolving.

Hiring managers, Cullen said, are becoming too uncompromising and rigid in requiring a candidate’s skills to match the posted requirements verbatim, not giving in to those who come close in most targeted areas.

According to Computerworld’s 2012 salary survey, workers seem to agree with the perceived skills gap. The findings showed that 93 percent of IT pros surveyed had career concerns, the biggest being the ability to keep up-to-date in their skills.

Cullen called out to hiring managers to not overlook the best available talent in the Quixotic search for the "purple squirrel." His tips included an open mindedness when it comes to candidates with promise, being willing to train to retain and also considering candidates coming from other industries.

Resume Star-Makers
Don’t want to be just one of the pieces of paper on the pile of prospective candidates? Here’s a few innovative ways to stand out from the crowd when it comes to your resume, courtesy of a recent InformationWeek article that gathered tidbits from hiring experts and professional career counselors.

As recommended, one should always research targeted companies for what would and would not go over well in terms of resume submissions.
Once that is done, here are a few innovative resume tips to consider:

  1. Use the free photo-sharing app, Instagram, to showcase skills and post your pic-filled resume via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
  2. Add hyperlinks and screenshots to your resume.
  3. Consider a video resume.
  4. Include a slideshow presentation.
  5. Try a reverse resume that outlines what you are looking for in a prospective employer.
  6. Build a resume on LinkedIn,
  7. Use Twitter and/or Facebook as your resume platform.
  8. Create infographics that showcase your skills and experience.

Silicon Valley Job Market: Not Just For the Young Guns
It’s now a solidified fact that the job market for technical talent in Silicon Valley is hotter than it’s been in quite some time, but what many may not realize is that this market is reaching beyond the skilled young tech workers.

Despite the general perception that ‘old techies’ in their 40s aren’t getting hired in the Valley, the struggle startup companies are finding in their search for top engineering talent is leading them to expand their hiring pools to the more experienced job seekers, according to a recent CNet article.

Take, for example, the reports of a recent free-flowing career education and networking event provided by a local chapter of ProMatch, a career resource center helping professionals find work in Silicon Valley. A long line of individuals introduce themselves, their skills and experience before an interested gathering of audience members in the room.
Many experts note that age when it comes to hiring isn’t really an issue in the region.

Startups also are increasingly bringing on older workers as advisors or senior executives to help balance the vision of young, energetic founders with real industry experience.
“If you’re a software engineer, you can be any age,” said Alice Hill, managing director at the technical staffing firm, Dice. “It’s all about whether you can write code.”
Of course, not all application processes are equal and results will vary depending on the candidate’s skill level, personal network and preparation for the job hunt in today’s daunting world of social media circles.

But all signs and comments point to technical opportunities being out there, at any age.

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