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Job experts: Fresh skills key for a return to IT

Fred O'Connor | July 8, 2011
With no definitive measure of how IT hiring fared during the recession, job experts hold conflicting opinions about the residual effects on that sector.

She recommends using downtime to go online and research industry current events. Tech workers tend to focus on specific projects and not necessarily greater trends, she said.

Experts also stress keep knowledge and skills fresh by using the Internet to take training courses and stay linked to other technology professionals.

Online training offers "less expensive course work than going to a university-sponsored course or some course work sponsored by the software providers," said Cullen. Using an employment lull to grow professionally will pay off in an improved economy, he said.

"If you're keeping your hand in technology and you're showing that you're continuing to learn during some lean times, [continuing] to look at ways to make [yourself] more valuable when the market returns, I think that's a huge plus," Cullen said.

Contributing to online tech communities allows workers to feel like they are still directly connected to the market and keeps them current, Hill said.

Candidates cannot underestimate the importance of using their professional contacts to get a company's attention, said HRmarketer.com's Grossman.

Networking may help a person land an interview via a company's "back door," he said.

"That's where you're going to get a little more face time and maybe be able to make the case why you're the person who should be hired," added Grossman. "These days because of the sheer volume of applicants, now more than ever it is who you know."

In fact, for those candidates in Silicon Valley looking to return to technology, networking may be the only way to get noticed by a recruiter or hiring manager, according to Grossman.

"I can't speak to the specific IT unemployment rate in Silicon Valley," he wrote in an e-mail. "I just know the overall unemployment is high and that there is still a high percentage ... of tech folks out of work."

Even with a surplus of applicants, however, "it's not like any of these people are out of luck," he added. During the recession, many affected learned "how resilient they can be and ... how adaptable they have to be to survive."

For people who have been away from the sector for longer than nine months, Cullen asks: "How proficient are they going to be, [and] how quickly are they going to be able to get up to speed on what we're doing?"

IT workers looking to return to a senior position, spending up to a year in a junior role is not "catastrophic" but a smaller window of six months to nine months is preferred, he said.

However, returning to the executive ranks does not entail sitting idly by and begrudging the situation, said Cullen. Showing that they took actions to better their skill sets and improves themselves makes candidates "much more valuable in a recovering market."

 

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