In a post last week, "Ten Reasons Why IT Is a Great Career Choice in 2010," I wrote about having compiled that list after interviewing Scot Melland, CEO of IT career services provider Dice Holdings, who is phenomenally bullish on the IT job market. I closed that post with this statement: "The opportunity is there if [tech workers] would just use their hands for something other than throwing them up in exasperation and pointing accusatory fingers."
IT jobs will continue to go unfilled because so many tech workers fail to accept the validity of that statement. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
Last week I also posted my interview with Melland, titled "Stay in IT, Dice CEO Advises." A reader who commented in response to the interview lamented his plight as an unemployed IT worker:
As a data analyst, I consulted with a mid-sized insurance company for three years. They were planning on hiring me, as their plans for upgrading their systems called for Enterprise Data Model, [in] which I specialize. They ended up cancelling all their upgrades, and I have been out of work for a year. Nothing in this area available, because all the companies have followed suit. The two previous contracts I worked on were outsourced to an IT company in India. I have found that most of my friends are having the same problem.
What's fascinating about that comment is the sentence, "Nothing in this area available, because all the companies have followed suit." It's fascinating because it completely ignores what Melland stressed in response to my very first question:
If you look across the industry, employment in technology has increased; there are shortages in various skill sets in various parts of the country. In fact, one of the biggest pieces of advice that we give tech pros who are looking for employment is to be flexible on location. There are, literally, thousands of positions available, and they may not be in your neighborhood. But they're certainly in somebody else's neighborhood. So if you're able to be flexible on geography, you can find some wonderful opportunities out there.
Yet for some reason that I'm unable to grasp, the idea of relocating in order to get a job falls on completely deaf ears in way too many cases of IT unemployment. It's a non-starter. It's as if the advice was to sacrifice your first-born child.
Certainly, for some people, relocation is indeed a non-starter. There are people whose circumstances make it genuinely impossible to move to a new place. But that's the exception. For the vast majority of us, if we're completely honest with ourselves, dismissing the idea of relocation as an impossibility is nothing more than a cover for our timidity or our unwillingness to sacrifice. You can't uproot the kids? Nonsense. When my family moved from a comfortable home and lifestyle in suburban Washington, D.C., to a tiny apartment and challenging living conditions in faraway Macau in the late 80s, our two school-aged kids flourished in the environment and went on to build very successful careers (one in IT and one in health care).
Let's stop making excuses, waiting for jobs to drop in our laps, and pointing fingers of blame when they don't. A lot of us complain when people from other countries are willing to leave everything they've ever known to find opportunity in this country. Perhaps rather than chiding them, we should learn from their example. If we don't have the guts to move to another country, we should at least have the mettle to move to another state.