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Employment

Out of curiosity:

If this is too personal a question, Please do not answer.

How many of you are employed currently?

I am currently in school, will be graduating in May, do not have an employment offers as of now.

My reading of the market says that things are bad, and getting worse.

I am no analyst, but then how good were these analysts anyway:-)

Prakash S
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Things in the industry aren't just bad, they are worse. Many publications are even writing about how bad things  really are.

Hit this site: http://www.computerworld.com/careertopics/careers/

Scroll down to the career discussion forums for a "small" sampling. If you peruse the job-hunting site's forums, it's even worse.

It'll be over a year before things turn around.

Good luck

Geoff
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I'm employed, and have been steadily employed the whole time. I barely missed the axe myself early last year though, and it was only multiple-language experience that kept me with the same employer. I have a lot of loyalty to my current employer; they are pleasant to work for, give me tons of leeway (I work from home), and are very flexible.

IMO, a lot of the tech industry slump is artificial, and created specifically to lower our benefits and salaries.

Troy King
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Speaking as someone recently made redundant, I disagree that the tech sector slump is more smoke and mirrors than reality. A lot of things are coming into play at this point.

The dot com bubble increased salaries and expectations against the tech sector more higher than was maintainable. The tech sector is going through a correction and benefits/salaries have to come down as the dotcom demand has collapsed (or become more realistic).

Then if you add to the mix, 9/11, a severe stock market correction (acquisitions & interesting accounting do not equal real growth) I'd be surprised if everything was actaully A-OK.

No-one wants to invest, everyone is playing safe. Perhaps a little too safe, but that one's open for debate...

A.J.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I am currently employed. If the job market did not suck, I would be at some other place. Given the current status of the job market, I will keep doing what Im doing for the time being.

Anonymous (this time around)
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I've just changed jobs. Sobering experience. I seriously interviewed for 8 positions, was rude to various people involved with one when I found out that the agency has misheard "Junior VB Developer" and thought they said "Senior C++ Software Engineer" and was offered four of the other seven, at salaries ranging from the "huge for that industry but I can't relocate to there for that"[1] to "not at all bad for where it's located"[2].

What was sobering were the comments from interviewers. Things along the lines of "Wow, you're the first C++ developer in here who can actually write C++...", that one of the places has been interviewing for six months before I turned up and had found no-one with sufficient skills and that even the ones that said no in the end (usually after second interviews) are still looking (god alone knows what for - one of them is rapidly gaining a reputation among the agencies as a company it's not worth working with because they don't ever hire. They seem to be waiting for Stroustroup to want to move. Except he doesn't have games development experience...)

And then there are the agents. The pressure that was put on me to say "yes" on the spot to jobs was... immense. I get the impression they haven't placed a lot of people recently. One agent talked me out of a job because I was waiting for a decision on another and she kept phoning. Every hour. To ask if I'd take her job yet... when she started calling me at ten at night she kind of blew the case...

Conclusion: the market is full of chimps who are claiming years of development experience, but can't actually talk about it in interviews. The agents are desperate because they can't tell heros from zeros, and spend months sending chimps to clients, pissing them off and not getting placements. The clients are swamped with CVs and have no idea what to do to actually hire people who can do the job.


The only tricky part was getting my CV not binned with a bundle of others and getting to the interview list. I think this is actually the problem decent people are having. The client has no way to tell from a CV which people are top-flight developers and which ones are lying and there are suddenly an awful lot of fibbers out there who can only be busted at the interview stage.



[1] Games role, really wanted it they really wanted me from the salary offered, but the average price of housing in Surrey is SILLY. The closest two software engineers could afford a decent house would have been >1.5 hours commute away. Couldn't do that.

[2] Nothing to write home about in the City, but good for the midlands.

Katie Lucas
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Katie: Yes, I completely agree that not getting your CV rubbished is the biggest problem. I am looking at the moment, but that is by far, my biggest problem. I don't have a lot of experience (about 2 years commercially) but I know I'm very competent. I'm not going to lie about my experience on my resume, but it seems that's what lots of people do.

I've also been on the other side of the coin: interviewing candidates, and looking over code samples. Most of them are really bad. Some candidates don't have code samples to send, so we give them simple programming tasks (and I mean simple). It's a pleasure to get code back that actually compiles. We had one candidate send in some code in a Microsoft Word document, that had apparently been transcribed from an introductory book on Win32 programming, complete with typos and all. When we sent her the rejection notice, she actually had the hide to write back and ask us what was wrong with her code.

I don't know about anyone else, but I wouldn't interview to be a brain surgeon, just in case someone was drunk on the interview and I actually got the job...

Just a Programmer
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I am employed and actually very happy at my current job.

At least here in Germany, the job market for software engineering seems to be changing rapidly. About 1 1/2 years ago, when I started at my current company, I could have gone almost everywhere with a very decent payment guaranteed. Only half a year later, there was nothing to be found. A friend of mine, who has lost his job at that time, is still looking for an alternative. Despite his personal experience, I get the impression that things are loosing up a bit, though. There are more job offerings in the newspapers and on the net, again.

I cannot say much about the situation in the US, but I know that some companies in the game industry for example, who have not been hiring for almost a year or so, now obviously are looking for new employees again. So, do not worry too much, maybe by next May everything will be booming again.

More and more software is and will be needed in the years to come and so will people writing this software.

Have fun,

Jutta Jordans
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I've been a contractor for 12 years, used a few different languages, and worked in a few different industries, this year I've had to travel interstate frequently to get good contract work, and I just finished my last contract 2 weeks ago. I haven't started looking for work yet, I decided to give myself a few weeks off first. Who knows, by the time we are into November it may be too late in the year to find work. I'm using the time to learn .NET and I'm enjoying it so far and looking forward to using it 'on the job', so I'm probably going to be fussy and not take any work that's not in a technology that doesn't interest me, or that I've already done a lot of.

The market is quite flat I'm told, and I'm about to find out how flat for myself it seems.

As far as interviews go, I don't rate them too much, I've been asked questions that I can't answer by people who who couldn't do the work that I do. I don't like being interviewed by  philosophers who know all there is to know, can quote knuth backwards, but yet have no achievements of their own to demonstrate. At the end of the day I'm a doer, and not such a great talker, so while I've been employed steadily for 12 years, interviews can sometimes go against me too, particularily if they focus on esoteric language anomalies.
Maybe I should learn more how to 'talk the talk' in this apparently tough employment market.

Alberto
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Oh yes, and agents, I avoid them at all costs.
Initially the function of agents was to screen people and only put forward 'quality'  candidates. Nowdays, most agents are basically car salesman types who just simply don't have a clue. The whole notion of being 'screened' by them makes you feel dirty.

Alberto
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

How do you find people who are currently looking for employees without going through agencies? All the jobs I see advertisied are through agencies.

Mr Jack
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I have to agree about agencies, in 16 years of permanent and 4 yers contract work I have never found any work through agencies.

By far and away the best source of jobs is recommendations through friends and colleagues, but there is no reason why you can't approach people directly.

This is even more important in a tough job market because there may be hundereds of applicants for a role your interested in so you will get lost in the crowd. If you approach people directly you might get in before the recruitment process starts properly.

Tony E
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I started a company a couple of months ago in association with one of my cousins.

I don't know about the market anywhere else, but I can tell you that in Mexico City there are lots of opportunities, despite the current state of our economy.

The problem is the lack of talented people... And I hope that doesn't become a larger problem later, when qualified developers finally start to show up, and companies don't want to stop outsourcing to overseas.

Napoleon Hill :)
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

By the way, these cool buttons that appear on top of the reply text box seemed cool... Until I clicked on the blue "W".

I thought it was nice that I could use Word's spell checker from here, but too bad the menu doesn't appear so you can select the language. Also, it ate what I had already wrote as soon as I pressed F7 and then cancelled the spell checker.

Nice try do.

Napoleon Hill :)
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Employed.  Good arrangement, but a little bit of a volatile environment.

Compared to six months ago the job market has gotten better.  I see at least the occasional programmer/DBA position advertised now, not necessarily jobs you would really want, but better than flipping burgers which was the next stop a few months back.

Matt Conrad
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

The problem is that the dot com boom inflated salaries and benefits for some people (though most corporate IS has some catching up to do). This inflation brought marginal developers into the field and as the dot com boom faded they were laid off along with the good developers.

If you look at the number of jobs available and compare that to the number of developers looking for work then things look bad. If you compare the number of jobs available to the number of developers that are really worth a damn then you get a different picture.

My company has had 4 openings in my group (some new some replacements) this year and we are currently looking for another senior developer. Even when you advertise a position as senior a lot of the people who apply aren't even fit to take out the trash. As stated by others, resumes are inflated (everyone knows the correct buzz words), everyone thinks they are at a senioir level and that they are the world's greates programmer. It just aint so.

To sum it up - the jobs are there but the pay isn't what it was at the height of the dot com boom and we are seeing a weeding out of the marginal developers in this industry.

IronMan
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Employed, by myself in Belgium.

Only one answer to avoid lack of work: network, network and network.

Selling oneself out and getting good contract work is down to that. Of course, you need to have a good skillset. But some people with more skill do not get the jobs that a good communicator can get even if he has 70% of the skill.

Anonymous
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

We do seem to find ourselves in a surplus following the dotcom era. I'm just surprised that few employers are interested in how smart a developer you are. All the job descriptions now prescribe an excessive set of requirements...

Been a developer since I escaped the womb; it's one of those things that are in my blood. But no amount of resume editing has been able to explain that, because I don't have a cross-portable skills backed up with multi-project out-of-body experiences.

So I'm going back to the old method: find a job through who you know. My advice: get friends.

A.J.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I'm currently happily employed. When I graduated from college (1992) the job market was quite bad, and I didn't constrain myself to technical jobs. I highly recommend this -- learning how to make your way in the business world (writing reports, research, etc.) can be invaluable, particularly when you do land your tech job and are able to express your ideas and processes in terms that non-technical people can understand. People who can walk in both worlds are highly desired.

And your technical skills will likely be valued there, but probably not in the way you originally intended. That's okay -- you may wind up finding a job through the backdoor in this manner :-)

Chris Winters
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

To those that are employed - Don't confuse your current job position with talent. You are lucky, some others are not. That does not mean the ones who are employed are somehow "real" developers and the ones that are layed off are shams. That whole notion is a sham.

I am currently employed and thankful, the market is not exactly booming.

Ian Stallings
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Well, I was laid off this morning (on my first day back from vacation).

I survived the first 2 rounds of IT lay offs at my company. There were only vague hints of another round before I left last Thursday...

Now I guess I'll find out if letting my MCSD laps last December was a good idea (when the 'Developing with MFC' test was retired).

Anyone in Chicago looking for a Sr. C++ programmer/analyst (10+ years) that's worked on both NT & various Unix platforms?

jeff
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

>Don't confuse your current job position with talent.

Of course not. There are alot of managers that can not tell
good developers from bad, so when the axe falls, it falls to hit both talented and less talented developers.

In my experience, when companies start to fire people, they get into a frenzy, and overdo it. Then they will wake up from the "need-to-fire-most-people" coma and re-hire people.

The cycle repeat itself...

Anonymous (this time around)
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Greenspan once mentioned that the US downturn would last X years after 2001, and I remember X was between 5-8.  People were seeing a pickup in 2002, but that was probably from the war.

Not that this should worry you, but it's a sign that you probably want to be ahead of the herd rather than move with it.

Tj
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Employed, actually at a pretty good place, but no optimistic about the future. I am actually thinking about becoming a car salesman

Daniel Shchyokin
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Employed, pretty decently.  Thinking about moving on, but it's still in the "idle fancy" stage.

I found my present employment through dice.com (after talking with 2 recruiters from the same company who obviously didn't prefer me).  That was three years ago, though-- I count myself *very* lucky to have caught the trailing edge of the economic wave.

van pelt
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Anyone looking for a senior buger flipper in lower manhattan? give me a buzz

me, myself and my burgers
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Do you have a Phd?

Daniel Shchyokin
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

A company I contract for in Australia put out an advert for a junior PHP programmer and got about 100 resumes in a single day.

Even though it was only a junior position quite a few applicants had Phds and Masters Degrees.

Matthew Lock
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Matthew: The question would be, could any of the applicants actually program?

I have seen plenty of resumes which look impressive, but once the applicant is hauled in, one sees very quickly that they have no idea what they're talking about.

Just a Programmer
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Let's flip the question around for a second.
Where I work we need someone. But how do we advertise? Should we hire an agency and only whichever random people get through their screening? Put an ad somewhere (the paper?) and go through the 300 resumes we'll get? And if we do that, how do we go through those resumes?

late at night
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

With what I've seen with agencies, almost any scheme for going through resumes is better and cheaper than hiring one. Agencies really are pathetic. Most of them are simple 'buzzword parsers'. A nicely-written Perl script could do a better job.

Just a Programmer
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

late at night, I think an important thing is to realize that hiring someone new is not as quick as plugging someone into your team.  You want someone who can work with you, who will take and contribute well.  So think of it as something fun.

Tj
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Late, you would probably get a good candidate by putting an ad here on Joel.

echidna
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Most of the job ads nowdays have heaps of skills required including "someone who understands the binary language of moisture 'vaporators" and you have to have all the skill set before they even consider you.

I am considering negotiating for a wage rise and my current position instead.

Thanks.

Tim
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I guess I've had a very different experience with agents. In my experience, there are three levels of agent:

- The crap agents who made me re-send my CV four or five times because they kept losing them (i.e. they couldn't be bothered, but wouldn't admit it).

- The agent who has average ability, but who is at least honest about the job market being unfavourable.

- The slightly better agent, who also doesn't think xe can find me work in this market with my current skillset, but who does at least give worthwhile advice and keep me in mind.

- The very good agent, like the ones who got me my present job. I used to do office temping for them as a student, and it was good luck that they happened to get some programming vacancies.

- The really outstanding agent. I encountered two of these when looking for my first job as a self-taught programmer with no experience. They worked for the same agency; the first one was skeptical, but prepared to hear me out, and began the search with genuine determination and optimism. But then left the agency. But was replaced by someone who said that she was absolutely determined to find me something, and did. This woman was amazing - made huge efforts on my behalf, and tried as hard for little me as she would have for a senior engineer with huge earning potential. She was a *star*. You don't meet people like that everywhere.

So, yes, most agencies *are* crap, but it doesn't do any harm to sign up with a few. You might get lucky.

Fernanda Stickpot
Thursday, October 17, 2002

echidna, judging by the thread below, this probably wouldn't be a good place to recruit a c++ programmer. ;)

qwik
Thursday, October 17, 2002

qwik: sure it would, you'd just have to be selective :)

Just a Programmer
Thursday, October 17, 2002

I'm currently employed on a contract that will last
til December. This is my first contracting job and I'm
finding it suits me well.

I'm nervous about finding a job after December.

I actually was laid off (semi-voluntarily) last December.
I immediately found another job starting in
January, using the networking technique. However, that job made me miserable, so I quit in July and started
contracting in August. I wouldn't have quit without this
contract arranged, though. I also got this job via networking.

My husband was laid off in March last year. Took him til July
to get a contract (3-mon). He experienced the same thing
during the interview for that job that others here have
said...hey, you're the first candidate we've interviewed for
this UNIX position who actually knows UNIX.
That's frightening.

He's currently unemployed again.

Lauren B.
Thursday, October 17, 2002

A good way to avoid getting lost in an ocean of job-seekers is to move to a pond. I've only had two professional programming jobs since leaving the military in '99. My favorite language/environment is Delphi, a small niche in the programming world and a language that seems to be used only by small companies. For both jobs I interviewed with somebody who new programming and who could tell whether I knew what I was talking about or not. They only got a small stack of resumes and I contacted them both directly, no agent involved. These companies were both < 10 employees when I started (this place just hit 10) and my responsibilities at both places are/were such that job security was not a concern (unless the company went down, but these are not fly-by-night dot coms). Being in such a niche I had places like delphijobs.com to go and find the kind of jobs I wanted and contact the places directly.

Ryan Eibling
Thursday, October 17, 2002

I found it pretty easy to get a new job after I was laid off in Aug 2001. It just took awhile longer (2 months instead of 1 week).  I left 9 months later for a better position, which took about 2 months as well to find.

Thing is I needed a U.S. work visa and could not relocate (telecommute only, small town of 75k -- try finding a job with a double hit like that -- especially the work visa part in this day w/H1B backlash). 

Current company is based in Silicon Valley, we're looking, but really can't find qualified locals to add to the team (which I find surprising considering it is SV, but hey, the applicants were crap).

cheapo
Friday, October 18, 2002

They are looking for a programmer where I work. The hiring manager told me he got hundreds of resumes but only 10 were worth interviewing. And of the 10 interviews, he found that most didn't know enough.
I was surprised because I thought there were so many programmers looking for jobs right now.

PC
Friday, October 25, 2002

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