A Tip from the Unemployment Line on How to Keep Your Job

Don Tennant

If you're in IT and you're still employed, here's a tip on what you can do to improve your chances of keeping it that way: Make yourself indispensible by learning how to do as many different jobs as you possibly can.


Slide Show

10 Certifications That Get You Hired

This top 10 list reflects the number of times certs were mentioned in job openings posted at Dice.com as of April 1.

This morning I happened to be in an office building in Marlboro, Mass., that houses the local unemployment office. Standing in line well before the office even opened were four people who were chatting and who seemed to know each other from previous occasions standing in the same line. Of the four, two were in IT, and one was laid off from an operations job with an IT vendor.


A middle-aged man whose comments indicated he's a database administrator was the most vocal person in the group, and seemed to be the most frustrated.


"The list of requirements was as long as I am tall," he said, referring to a job he'd recently applied for. A woman who said she was laid off from MediQual, which used to be the software division of Cardinal Health, knew exactly what he meant. "They're combining all the jobs," she said, noting that even though she's a SQL Server developer, potential employers expected her to also know JavaScript and HTML.


The others nodded in agreement, including a woman who said she'd been laid off from Hewlett-Packard, where she had a job in operations supporting the marketing team. This woman mentioned the layoff announced on June 1 of another 9,000 people from HP. "They're mostly IT, she said," apparently referring to the fact that HP's announcement stressed that the company is moving to fully automate its data centers.


The database admin continued to voice his frustration. "What I'm finding is even with follow-ups, you don't get a hell of a lot of response," he said. "You have a good in-person interview, then it's almost like you dropped off a damn cliff."


The fourth person, who said he's not in IT, could still identify with what the database admin was saying. "Then you see the same ad a month or two later," he said. "You call them up and get a recording, but you never hear anything back."


The discussion underscored a point that was made by an IT director I interviewed earlier this year. In my post, "Is There an IT Skills Shortage in the U.S.? Well, Yes and No," I wrote about having posed the skills shortage question to David D'Agostino, IT director at Advanced Technology Systems Corp. in McLean, Va. D'Agostino said the shortage is in people with multiple skills:

I'm not sure there's a skills shortage, per se. In my position, running a relatively small department, and having a fairly sophisticated infrastructure-a Cisco phone system, EMC, VMware for all our machines-I think there's a shortage of combined skills. I've got one guy, my network manager, who has certifications in VMware and EMC storage; he knows enough about Cisco to get everything done that we need to get done. If he left, it would be hard for me to find somebody like that-it would be hard to replace him.

That fact would have been lost on no one in that early morning line. You can bet that many of them are taking training courses, trying to make themselves as versatile as possible. And they would no doubt advise anyone who still has his job to do the same thing. Great advice from the trenches on the front-the front of the unemployment line.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.


Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jun 8, 2010 3:24 PM Blue Blue  says:

You could say the same for anything.  Any job, be it an accountant or customer service rep, could have a laundry list of qualifications. Here is an example:

"Looking for customer service rep; must have masters degree, type 80 wpm,  8-10 years experience in a specific industry,  have 3 industry certifications, prior management experience, willing to work weekends.   $8.50 an hour, no benefits"

Lets say you don't get as many candidates as you wanted for this position.  Only 50 qualified applicants.  Would you say that there is a 'desperate skills shortage' because you did not get 200 applicants? 

The truth is there is a shortage of jobs, and the more people fighting for these jobs will lower wages; thus we have the H1b/L1 corporate welfare programs.   It has nothing to do with a 'skills shortage'.  It's about greed.

Jun 10, 2010 5:47 PM Sick Dog Don Sick Dog Don  says:

No thanks to you Don ! We don't need your tips and suggestions. Why don't you shut up your mouth instead moaning around like a cheap bastard on itbusinessedge.cm. Your credential shows you are a pro H-1B cheap workers and NASSCOM propaganda machine.  Go away... We don't need your opinion and sympathy. Go away as far as you can no one wants you here.


Post a comment





(Maximum characters: 1200). You have 1200 characters left.




Subscribe Daily Edge Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Daily Edge Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.