What About the Unemployed in Tech?

Susan Hall
Slide Show

Five IT Career Skills on the Upswing

Five IT skills getting attention from recruiters.

I'm trying reconcile stories that the tech labor force is "pretty close to full employment," as Dice.com's Alice Hill put it, and stories of struggling unemployed tech workers - both by San Francisco news outlets.

 

The San Francisco Chronicle quotes Adam Pisoni, co-founder and chief technology officer of enterprise microblogging service Yammer, saying:

It's such a thin market, it feels like everybody is employed already. Engineers have 10 recruiters calling them.

That story puts the unemployment rate for tech workers at 3.3 percent in June, down from 5.3 percent in January.

 

Meanwhile, The San Francisco Examiner quotes Kris Stadelman, executive director of NOVA, a federally funded employment and training agency based in Sunnyvale, saying of unemployed tech workers:

If you were a minor tech employee at a B company, you are not going to come back to the tech industry anymore because they only want top talent. Many of our tech workers are going to be left behind.


It says graduates of top computer science programs - such as MIT, UC-Berkeley, the University of Southern California, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon - do have 10 recruiters calling them. Those who went elsewhere, not so much. And it says that those over 40 or those who have been out of work for a while have to overcome "stereotypes."

 

My colleague Don Tennant wrote about an investigation by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission into allegations of discrimination against the unemployed. To require applicants to have a job to be considered for a job truly is outrageous.

 

Scott Swift, recruiting consultant at California-based HR outsourcing firm TriNet, told me recently that the tech labor market is very tight and the unemployed generally got that way through no fault of their own, but from failed startups or layoffs (Cisco, anyone?).

 

Last year when I spoke with Matthew Rothenberg, editor-in-chief of job site The Ladders, he told me that being unemployed is more understandable these days, considering the recession. But he advised job candidates to be able to show that they used that time off the job in a productive way that would enhance their skills, such as taking a class or doing a volunteer project for charity.

 

In the Examiner article, Stadelman says that in any job interview, you should be able to show, not tell what your skills are, anyway:

Don't say you took such and such a software class; hand me your laptop and show me what you did.


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