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Moving Up the IT Ladder in a Poor Economy?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the jumpstarting-your-career...again dept.

Businesses 892

Andy asks: "As almost anyone who joined the IT industry on the tail end of the Dot-Com boom can tell you, trying to move up in the industry for the past couple of years has been like jogging up-wind in a hurricane. I have sent resumes to countless numbers of employers only to still be working in the same $13/hr. low-end outsource support job as when I started (and $13/hr. doesn't get you too far in Boston these days). Learning more and more languages/technologies/protocols has merely resulted in a larger skill set on my resume, with pretty much the same level of experience, and no new interviews. Has anyone else been able to get out of this sort of slump, either during this economic slump or a previous one? Should I just continue the path of learning as much as I can and applying for jobs? Would getting a cert (maybe an RHCE or some Cisco certs) help? Would it be worth it to get a degree in MIS or CS?"

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It's who you know, and what you know (4, Informative)

cybermint (255744) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976584)

The economy is still slow without a doubt. It's hard to find constant work even for those who are skilled and experienced. I was fortunate enough to make connections near the end of the dot com boom, and recently those connections have begun to pay off. My income has more than doubled in the last 6 months, although work is still inconsistant. If I didn't have the experience beforehand, or I didn't make those connections, I'd probably be flipping burgers right now.

I doubt many employers want a mediocre jack-of-all-trades kind of guy. You're better off selecting one or two specific areas and focusing on getting experience within it. Most of the technicly adept and smart employers know that tech certifications are pretty much a bunch of BS, but some still require it if you want to get your foot in the door. The same goes for degrees. Either way, couldn't hurt to have it.

And btw, FP bitches!

Re:It's who you know, and what you know (5, Insightful)

cshark (673578) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976713)

I don't know about that. The more skills you have the better. But no one wants a mediocre employee to begin with, no matter what the skill set. The more skills and experience with those skills you have, the more employable you'll be. It also gives you more spin options for your resume. And in this job market you're going to need to spin your resumes in as many ways as possible. If I were in this guys shoes, I would spend some serious money on certification. Nothing, not even formal education is more voluble than a high level certification in your chosen area. If you have high level certification and education... all the better.

Re:It's who you know, and what you know (2, Insightful)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976736)

Most of the technicly adept and smart employers know that tech certifications are pretty much a bunch of BS, but some still require it...

I hear this a lot on Slashdot and similar places. However, I hear just the opposite when talking to people in the employment field.

I'm US Navy, 19 years, and looking to retire shortly and enter the IT field. I've been repeatedly told by head hunters, employment agencies, etc. that military people who get out and have their certs have little trouble finding a job. Those who don't have their certs, despite having equivalent military training and experience, have a much tougher time. One head hunter told me that he won't even take resumes from ITs (Information Technologists) unless they have civilian certs.

Re:It's who you know, and what you know (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976743)

You're better off selecting one or two specific areas and focusing on getting experience within it.

Can't get a job without experience, can't get any experience without a job...

Re:It's who you know, and what you know (4, Interesting)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976766)

I have resorted to reference farming, since in my experience a bad reference can kill any chance you have at getting a job. I know from my experience of interviews there is a large glut of tech-certifiables. Just because they have the initials doesn't mean they know the stuff. Certifications are a bit like final exams. Sure you may have gotten an A on your calculus exam 5 years ago, but if you don't use the skills daily they will degrade.

Also, many people ignore the requirements on the job-descriptions for new applications. It surprised me at first when requesting for a SQL engineer and recieving resumes specifying MSaccess experience solely as for a DB admin position. Resume's like this go to the shredder.

From my own personal attempts at getting hired (which were quite extensive.) My biggest problem was a "poisoned" reference. It made all the other references pretty much worthless. Upon calling this individual, I learned later of course, that most of the prospective employers just stopped and tossed the resume in the circular file.

Also, presentation and attitude helps a ton. If you're looking for a new job be as personable as you would be with a client, as they potentially are. The employer is attempting to find someone who is not only adept, but also socially capable. Shave the beard (or trim it), at least tie the hair back and wear at least a tie when you even HAND in your resume. A good hand shake helps as well as your eye contact, making sure they know who you are is good since then they will know you're not just some resume spammer.

A smart employer will hire someone based upon their experience, if you have no professional experience in an area you would like to move into donate your time somewhere for an NPO, or find a way to utilize it in your current employers setup. A class or certification only helps so much, experience counts for so much more.

Re:It's who you know, and what you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976804)

My biggest problem was a "poisoned" reference. It made all the other references pretty much worthless. Upon calling this individual, I learned later of course, that most of the prospective employers just stopped and tossed the resume in the circular file.

You do know that you're supposed to ASK someone if you can use them as a reference, and make sure they'll say positive things about you? Or did that reference just stab you in the back for no reason?

Ask Bush, Anne Coulter, or O'Reilly: +1, True (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976796)

for more Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them [whitehouse.org]

Have a nice day without Rush Limbuagh.

Regards,
Kilgore Trout

ef pee (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976587)

i am the master, you will obey me

Re:ef pee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976603)

Master of what? Failing it maybe.

NO, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976618)

i will CRUSH YOU, FAILURE!

Uncle Sammy will double your salary right now! (5, Funny)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976588)

The downside is that you have to leave Boston [opm.gov] . Well one of many downsides......

Re:Uncle Sammy will double your salary right now! (1)

Pii (1955) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976684)

Some would view that as a plus (myself included)...

Moving to a new city may help, but the poster also asked about Certifications.

I have no direct experience with the RHCE, but I don't know any Cisco certified guys making only $26k. CCNAs make upwards of $40, and it's not a difficult cert to attain.

Now understand, there are a lot of CCNAs out there, so getting a job might still be a difficult task. I can only assure you that once you get one, you'll be making a lot more than $13/hr.

Re:Uncle Sammy will double your salary right now! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976712)

Be all that you can be...

Patch Windows vulnerabilies or compile a new Linux kernel while fighting off Iraqie terrist fire. ...In the Army

Got to love it.

Returning Heros (1)

yintercept (517362) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976805)

I admit, I am a bit worried about the need for a week job market to make room for the returning heros from the various US excursions abroad. Staying home and completing a CS degree and getting a low paid internship will not sound as good on a resume as fighting terrorism on its turf. That overseas experience just might become the determining factor in career success in the US for the next several decades.

Assuming US soldiers return in the next year or so; will they spur economic activity by increased domestic consumer activity, or will they re-enter a crowded employment market?

move... (-1, Troll)

saderax (718814) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976595)

... to India

umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976703)

that would be 13 rupees instead of $13...

You're not under-qualified, you're dis-qualified (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976601)

Would getting a cert (maybe an RHCE or some Cisco certs) help? Would it be worth it to get a degree in MIS or CS?

Holy fuck, hate to break it to you, but the fact that you're making twice the minimum wage is just unbelievable, you must have some guardian angels following you around. IT is finished as occupation. I don't mean programming or research or product development. IT as support is finished, it's either outsourced, or the product itself is such an easy thing to use, you don't need a monkey to tell you "Ok, now go to File, then click Open, and that will open a file for you?"

I mean seriously, what the hell are you thinking getting into industry with no certs, no education, no experience and no visible products that you've yourself developed. IBM just fired 5K not too long ago, Sun fired 3,000 people, so there are hundreds of engineers out there who have certs, experience, big-name company recognition competing for the same jobs.

I'd say be thankful for what you have, since I am surprised you have that much as $13/hour.

Find the back door... market yourself differently. (5, Insightful)

MurrayTodd (92102) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976605)

I only got a good job going through the "front door" approach once in my life. I was 14 years old.

20 years later, everything worth getting came from being aggressive with marketing myself and finding unexpected leads. I would recommend possibly getting a book about Cold Calling. There's one especially good called Cold Calling for Women [amazon.com] that's really good for men or women. There's also a classic book called What Color is Your Parachte [amazon.com] . It's geared toward people who maybe want to switch careers, but it's got good discussion of finding jobs as well.

It seems to me that going the "normal career route" in the I.T. field is inherently problematic simply because our field changes so rapidly, and few employers want to keep up with constant retraining. So we've got to think differently from other workers, even if we're slogging through the office right next to them.

The way you get the big payoff is you think outside the box. Become your own entrepreneur. If that's too much hassle, enjoy your $13/hr wage.

Volunteering worked for me (5, Informative)

greenmars (685118) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976613)

I was able to get out of that trap by doing volunteer stuff at night to get experience and references.

My suggestion is (5, Funny)

thebra (707939) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976614)

to find a rich woman to live off of. I don't know where to get certified for that though.

Re:My suggestion is (2, Funny)

dicepackage (526497) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976727)

You can get women to pay you? I can't even get a poor woman.

Re:My suggestion is (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976738)

We are talking about a tech guy here.

Same Pickle (2, Informative)

Sloh_One (756526) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976619)

I currently have a decent paying job and am relocating to the south where I have been unable to get a single interview. Where my wife will be working, the IT manager said they could get 2 of me for the pay i am currently making. Definately not a good thing for me. I am currently thinking of learning some programming languages to maybe start in that field as i have a growing interest in that. But who is gonna hire a programmer with no skill who needs a certain set of income just ot make the monthly bills?

Re:Same Pickle (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976710)

Start with a reality check.

IT salaries were outragously inflated through the dot com era. I many places they still are. If you are a sysadmin, you're really not doing a job that is much different than an operating engineer's role.

If your salary expectations are higher than what a unionized mechanic can make, you're going to need a new career path.

Re:Same Pickle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976767)

+1 right fucking on

Re:Same Pickle (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976813)

Definately not a good thing for me. I am currently thinking of learning some programming languages to maybe start in that field as i have a growing interest in that.

I really don't want to discourage you, but I honestly can't recommend just picking up a few programming languages and hoping to net a job with them in today's market. There are already enough people with Computer Science degrees and experience that can't find decent jobs, and unless you really luck out and land in an area that is just DYING to get some programmers, you probably won't have any better success.

What I CAN recommend is that you look at some of the local newspapers in the area to which you are moving as well as the internet job boards (like Monster) to see what kind of employement has the highest availability and compensation, and then consider retraining yourself for that field. As always, however, make sure it is something you think you'll enjoying doing every weekday for 8+ hours. I can also give you a little reassurance -- salaries are in general lower in the south, but so is cost of living. You just need to make sure any cut you take in pay is compensated by cuts in living expenses.

Re:Same Pickle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976814)

You want to work in the south? Don't do IT. You'd be better off 'digging ditches' than doing our type of work. Believe me... I've considered it many times(Hell, I've even considered taking a job as a used car salesman!)

One word... (4, Insightful)

funny-jack (741994) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976624)

Networking.

As in, expand your personal contacts, not connecting together computers.

Re:One word... (5, Insightful)

iso (87585) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976757)

I'll second that. You don't find jobs by sending in resumes these days, especially if the resume is sent electronically. At most companies, electronic resumes (even .DOC files) are put into a database, and most are never read by anything but a computer.

The fact is, you need to get out there and talk to people, make some contacts, and make the most of your network. If you're going through HR, it's pretty unlikely you'll ever get an interview, nevermind a job.

Re:One word... (1)

B2K3 (669124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976758)

Plastics

No... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976626)

Would it be worth it to get a degree in MIS or CS?
No. Get an MBA then outsource offshore, you'll make plenty.

Seriously, if it's about the cash, find a new career. Make it something you enjoy, because you'll be spending a large part of your life doing it.

Sad facts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976627)

You think it's bad not being able to move up after two years? You better enjoy your $13/hr support job while it lasts because those are prime candidates for Indian outsourcing.

If I were you I would look into some other field. (Hint) Remember that no matter what the economy does, people still have to eat.

Network (1)

darth_MALL (657218) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976631)

A few of the usual certs, knowing the right people, and a willingness to work Mon-Fri 9-5, and you too could have a cushy public sector job! The government where I work seems to have money to train anyone with a basic computer knowledge and desire to learn. Plus the pay is rediculous (the good kind of rediculous).

In a Klingon economy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976632)

You kill your boss to move up the ladder. I suggest this for a poor economy, too.

Re:In a Klingon economy (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976699)

Mod this the fuck up or I will kill you for your mod points.

Back To School (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976637)

Would it be worth it to get a degree in MIS or CS?

If you don't have a degree, and you can't seem to get anything better than entry-level and dead-end jobs, going to college would probably be a good idea. The degree alone won't solve your problems, but not having a degree gives the overworked HR drone sorting resumes an easy way to categorize yours... as a NO. Which could explain the lack of any interviews. (By the way, picking up a book on resume-writing might be a good idea as well.)

Furthermore, if you're going to go to college, the best time for that is during a weak economy (like now). You don't want to spend that occasional window of 4-5 years when everyone else is making money, by sitting in classes and paying money instead.

Re:Back To School (3, Informative)

IMNTPC (45205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976734)

Problem is since the economy is week, the state has been taking in less taxes. Since the state has been taking in lesss taxes they're giving less to the university. Since the university is getting less from the state they've raised tuition.
When I went to the University of South Carolina in 1991 the tuition was around $1200.00 per semester, rumor has it that it's over $3000.00 per semester now. Roughly 13 years over doubled in price. Granted this isnt Ivy league, but not much hope of working part time and paying for shool at those prices. Only hope is to get loans, grants, etc and pray the economy eventually comes back to some semblance of what it was.

Re:Back To School (1)

IMNTPC (45205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976786)

Whooops, I meant weak.....

Strengthen existing skills (5, Informative)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976639)

Learning more and more languages/technologies/protocols

In my opinion, a mile wide/inch deep skillset gets you nowhere. If a resume passed my desk with 50 million skills and 5 years total experience, I am going to question that resume right to the circular file. But maybe that's just me.

Move! (5, Interesting)

haystor (102186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976640)

Move out a Boston.

Big cities think in big company ways. You have management and underlings.

Get to some smaller city where you can work for a smaller business, learn the entire business and move up from there.

At aim for smaller companies ones without a set corporate structure that has no room for you anywhere but the bottom.

Don't look for money. (4, Insightful)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976643)

You'll never find it in this economy. What I can suggest is to find something you really ENJOY doing (i.e. programming/games/support/whatever), and work hard to get that job, and then sit tight and wait for the economy to pick up. At least then you'll get some enjoyment out of your job. If possible look for something with a future for moving to a place where you want to go (or pay scale you want to go) so when the economy picks up, at least you'll be first in line..

Get a CS or MIS degree (1)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976644)

If you want to work in the field, it would be very good to have one of these degrees. The better the school you can get it from, the better your future career prospects.

Don't get me wrong: it's still going to be tough with a degree. I've got a BS double major and an MS in math; I went from AI development pre dot-bomb to COBOL development post dot-bomb. But it gives you an edge you didn't have earlier.

Re:Get a CS or MIS degree (1)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976691)

Definitely get a degree. If you want to move up outside of your current company, a degree is almost required no matter how skilled you are. Very sad but true. A lot of employers look first at what piece of paper you have on your resume. If that doesn't match what they're looking for, too bad for you. I'm in the same position roughly, and I keep getting either no reply or losing the job to someone a lot less qualified but who has the piece of paper. These days, you just have to play the game because the number of field positions is getting smaller and the prospective team is getting bigger.

You don't have a degree? (4, Informative)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976646)

No wonder you're making $13/hr. We're hiring like mad but won't touch someone without a degree. Even if it's in a related field...I don't have a CS degree but have a couple in physics. Don't bother with the certs...get an education in the field you're trying to get a well-paying job in. I interview candidates in my current job and I can tell you that a degree is worth more than the cert (as well it should be).

Re:You don't have a degree? (5, Informative)

Bellyflop (681305) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976769)

Not having a degree can be a real career limiter/killer. I don't know precisely what kind of work you do/want to do, of course. For software developers, there's really no question unless you have some sort of fantastic background doing the core development of something really important (ie. if you're the equivalent of Linus Torvalds, then ok fine, I don't care if you went to college). Barring that, even if you want to do sysadmin/network design work, a bachelor's degree is pretty important, preferrably in CS or EE. If you're doing PC support tasks (of the "re-install office" type), then sure, no need for a degree, but then the opportunities for advancement are very limited. If you want to continue without a degree, then I think it really comes down to having some good connections that will take a risk on you. Don't expect a move up to management but at least move to salaried pay and then move on from there. BTW, it's been my experience that it's often not enough that you have a degree - it has to be from a great school with a good GPA. I'm not saying it necessarily makes you better, but it's often the filter that companies are using. Certifications usually don't help. For designer type positions, I think that they are actually a hindrence instead of a help...

Get a cert, throw it away (2, Informative)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976647)

I have an MS cert which I will never, ever, EVER use, yet its listed proudly on my resume next to my Solaris and other tech certs. Why? Because HR drones OCR your resume and do text-searches on it. If you don't have the magic words, you never even make it to the real decision makers.

Re:Get a cert, throw it away (2)

warriorpostman (648010) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976705)

That's really depressing, but I have a feeling you are absolutely correct. My current company encourages developers to pursue MS certifications and I may bite on that pretty soon when I get more familiar with .NET. They even pay bonuses for certain combinations of certs passed.

I'd love to move back to developing in an environment that uses UNIX, but until then I'll take advantage of whatever my company offers to pay for with Microsoft-related stuff. I consider it a bonus that they actually want us to learn something.

You don't have a what?! (5, Insightful)

heyitsme (472683) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976650)

Would it be worth it to get a degree in MIS or CS?

I really hope this isn't serious... how exactly did you plan to get very far in a field you have no formal education in? Trust me, I am a firm believer that "clues > certs" but in the case of a university degree, it's a no brainer. I really hope this was a troll submission...

My cleaning lady charges about the same! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976651)

We pay our cleaning lady $50 to clean the house once a week, which takes her from 3 to 4 hours. She is 25 years old, doesn't know how to move a mouse or type on a keyboard.

At $13 an hour and a bunch of certifications, I think you are probably in the wrong company or doing the wrong stuff.

My advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976654)

Stop jogging during hurricanes!

Why does it feel like the wind is in your face whether you are coming or going?

Welcome to the real world. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976656)

Unfortunately, experience is still paramount to HR drones and upper management. Even in IT, upward mobility is only a function of age and ass kissing.

Move... (2, Insightful)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976660)

Boston is a dying area for techies, like Silicon Valley, less jobs every year. Beefing up your resume won't help much if there's insufficient need in your environment.

If you're looking to move up, avoid the cert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976661)

The last thing you need is to be typecast as "just another MCSE". Because if you're good the cert is worthless.

You have to find yourself in a big enough organization where you can prove you're as good as you obviously think you are.

Re:If you're looking to move up, avoid the cert (1)

warriorpostman (648010) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976756)

That's a pretty brazen statement. Certifications are totally and uniquely in the eye of the beholder. I talked to my cousin who is a pro-MS guy and a year or two ago he said to me, "Those Unix admin guys are a dime a dozen". Unix people say the same thing about MS guys.

It gets ridiculous to say the least. I'll gladly pursue my .NET certification, when the time is right. I may not advertise it on a billboard, but I'll certainly include it on my resume.

Consulting (4, Insightful)

LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976664)

Hit up your local temp agencies for temp IT work. Once you get a temp job make yourself indspensable and the job will follow.

Two Choices (1)

hjmartin70 (250011) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976665)

Start your own business, risk it all and gain experience. Or, go to school get paper certs and keep plugging away at the HR departments. I followed the first path. While a degree will be useful in getting some jobs (certs too), real world experience will help with actually doing any job in IT.

nope (1)

Grifter (12763) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976668)

The industry is mostally at a stand still. I have my RHCE and my CCNA, and still no jobs. I send out resumes through Monster and HotJobs(Yahoo), call companies, and appear in person with no avail. It seems all hopeless right now.

Specialize (2, Flamebait)

rigmort (584960) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976669)

I'm a Macintosh (mostly) sys admin and there is plenty of demand for my skills. Windows sys admins seem to be a dime a dozen. Find a specialty -- even my dog has his CCNA and MCSE.

Nice hobby, crappy career (4, Interesting)

Maxwell (13985) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976670)

Keep computers in your basement as a hobby. I am wrapping up my BS in Business this spring, likely startting MBA next year. Why be Dilbert when you can be the Pointy Haried Boss?

My biggest problem is I am too good at what I do (I build Oracle/MS-SQL DB's for health care facilites). I also make enough money that the ROI on the MBA doesn't look that great. I'll have to work hard on forgetting what I know to be an effective manager. "I heard Mauve has more RAM". heh. Can't wait!

JON

Re:Nice hobby, crappy career (1)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976724)

You should be modded up just for your dilbert quote, that was my favourite strip:

"I heard Mauve has more RAM".

RE: "PHB Wants a fancy new SQL database"!

That was classic and is 100% right-on my old PHB..

Re:Nice hobby, crappy career (1)

Maxwell (13985) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976741)

c/Haried/Haired

for the clueless

JON

Willing to relocate? (1)

daVinci1980 (73174) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976674)

As a previous poster mentioned, 'who you know' can be as or more important than what you know.

The other question is whether or not you are willing to relocate. If you are, then its pretty easy to move up (speaking from experience). If not, then you are severely limited in your choices.

My $0.02.

What are your goals? (5, Insightful)

maiden_taiwan (516943) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976675)

If you are in a low-end job and have no CS degree, you're going to have a very hard time getting noticed for a higher-level of technical position. Especially if your resume if your only tool. I can only recommend that you network with some higher-up technical folks in person, and find out (A) if your goals are realistic, and (B) if they can help you.

You ask whether it's "worth it" to get some more training or a degree. In return, I'd ask what you're trying to accomplish. Do you want to be a software engineer, given you don't have a computer science background? I've known a few excellent people in that situation, but they are VERY rare.

Also, before blaming the economy: is your resume excellent? Please post it online and I'm sure you'll receive some constructive criticism from the Slashdot crowd....

Re:What are your goals? (1)

persaud (304710) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976812)

No degree -- specialize in new technology for which there are no degrees. That means bleeding edge, with the risk that your expertise may become irrelevant when the market picks a winner. But the principles behind any good technology are both timeless and portable, so you can't lose. How to find new technology? Open-source comes to mind.

small town (2, Interesting)

Doctux (769966) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976680)

im only 18 but im finding easy to find IT work in small town usa, i dont have any certs, but i know my shit. people will pay outrageous sums of money to have a comp know it all in their office.

Re:small town (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976719)

Please post the location of small town usa...

Re:small town (2, Funny)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976803)

im only 18 but im finding easy to find IT work in small town usa, i dont have any certs, but i know my shit.

Spoken like a true 18 year old who doesn't know their shit.

Its not about the resume (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976685)

In these times, being on a employment comittee myself recently, I can tell you that your skills get your foot in the door, that is all. From then on out, its all about how you present yourself.

Dont hold your breath for the IT industry to come back either, you need to start consulting work and keep yourself busy.

Its been said, but its good advice (1)

Gr33nNight (679837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976686)

Try applying for jobs outside of Boston. I work in IT in Madison, Wisconsin and I graduate with a 2-year tech degree in May, and make about $35k a year starting (about a year ago). I dont have any certs and no prior experience. There are jobs out there, you just might have to move for it. Otherwise I would think about getting out of IT.

whats a poor economy (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976687)

As a child in the 70s i remember drinking powdered milk and driving decades old cars... everyone we knew was broke. Are we really doing that bad?

Get a Degree and all the certs you can get.... (1)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976688)

...after persuing that. Start networking with everyone you can. Don't be afraid to play the part of the sniveling 'yes-man' or brown-noser...

It's you or them.

If you don't have a degree and have no certs, what the heck are you complaining about? $13 an hour is more then enough for unskilled labor. BTW, without that degree or certs that ALL you will be to the eyes of a hiring manager.

CERTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976690)

Certs mean nothing in reality but get them if you want to move up.

I have no certs and know more than most people that I work with, but they were all hired because they had a stupid little peice of paper. I only got in because I had a friend on the inside.

As much as I hate to say it Certs are your friend.

Don't bother with a degree in MIS or CS (1)

almound (552970) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976704)

Think of computer and programming skills as an enhancement to other, more marketable resume items (your future employer will). Such expertise might be just the thing to get an edge up in management, though, if you can stomach to "do" management.

Let's face it. /.'s played the Wheel of Fortune and lost. Now it is time to pick up the pieces, dust ourselves off, and retrain. Unless you're 45, overweight, and married a rich broad .. like me.

adding cisco certs... (1)

cbdavis (114685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976707)

Save your money. I know CCDPs/CCNAs that have been outta work for over a year. Recently, I interviewed several folks for a networking position. Over half of the responders were cisco CCIEs, who were not working.

Re:adding cisco certs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976781)

Over half of the responders were cisco CCIEs, who were not working.

They were probably not working because they were deemed "overqualified" for the position. Something I heard quite a few times before I found my job... and I only have an MCSE.

Well... (3, Interesting)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976709)

Maybe this will change when I finish school next year, but damn, I would kill for a salary of $13/hour at the moment.

Currently, one month's pay at that rate that would pay my rent, food, utilities, cable, phone, gas, and 6 months of car insurance, with a sizable chunk left over.

Probably couldn't support a family on that amount, granted, but for anyone (single or splitting costs) not living right near a giant city, $13/hour would be awesome.

switch careers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976715)

Just forget what you learned and switch to something that won't be outsourced. that's just the way it is and it's not going to change. IT will never come back in this country.

Pick up some specialized skills (4, Insightful)

DeafDumbBlind (264205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976718)

Learn about a specific industry and become proficient with the tools that they use.
For example, learn about sales/marketing and learn how to code with either IRI or AcNielsen or both. Learn about finance and Bloomberg APIs, etc.

You'll do MUCH better if you come across as someone who understands business but also knows how to code as opposed to someone who's just a god at coding.

Work is obsolete (1, Troll)

poptones (653660) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976722)

That is... jobs are obsolete. If you have skills it's time to think outside the box, for sure. You didn't really WANT to spend the next thirty years in a cubicle, did you?

I took my $10/hr job at a call center for the insurance and to be with " structured friends" (ie to have co-workers and regular personal interaction). I work there a few days a week (mostly weekends), I have half decent health care, and I have plenty of time T-F to do what I want with my time. I realize this isn't an answer for someone who has a wife and kids and expects to keep them in primo jeans and caviar, but I honestly don't see how ANYONE with a decent skill set in this world today could spend their life a pauper unless they WANTED to live as a pauper (which I have done, as I said, by choice).

You've got a world of connecitons at your fingers. Find a project and become an expert, tell everyone who will listen about it. Eventually someone will pay you for your expertise, and they'll do it on your terms.

Porn (-1, Offtopic)

stateofmind (756903) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976725)

I'm sure there is fetish out there for geek porn.

Here are some movie name ideas:
Mount My Drive #7
Let's Play Stain The Mousepad
Sex Starved Geek Sluts #27

And so on... good luck!

Josh

Self-employment/cut expenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976728)

Volunteer to potential future clients. I've even seen pc support ads in the yellow pages work. Be flexible. See no paying job as beneath you (even if the dreaded service and support).

Cut back on expenses. Dump the center city lifestyle and move back with the parents (not forever!) Can make the slow startup periods or job search more workable.

Degrees. I've found on-the-job experience and the real-world network it builds to be more valuable. Most of what you can get on a campus is available to be self-taught to the entrepreneurial learner.

well, frankly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976732)

all your knowledge of 'protocols' and 'languages'
probably amounts to little or nothing .. if you're
still working tech support you probably aren't
talented enough to do anything else .. nothing
wrong with that, tho you might want to change
your line of work

honestly, folks - how long did you expect this
stupid situation of all us kids making beaucoup
$$$ just for knowing how to design a web page to
last? .. employers are realizing more and more
lately that these 'skills' aren't really skills
at all - they're just collections of trivia

i hate to be the one to burst your bubble, puppy,
but you're making $13/hr because you Deserve it.
make a play for management - become one of those
bright-eyed bushy tailed assholes the rest of us
hate, do nose-candy in the elevator and go home
and kick your dog at night out of frustration just
because you refuse to see it

or, maybe computers aren't the thing for you ..
they always need folks to do drywall work

to sum up : "post-dotcom-boom gen-blech kids -
grow up, learn to work for a living, and quit
fucking Whining. go ask your grandparents what
it was like to live during the depression, and
listen to what they have to say if they don't
slap the taste out of your mouth first"

Experience... (2, Interesting)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976740)

Above and beyond all get experience and know the basics.

I finally went "professional" with all my computer knowledge in '98. No degree, no certs, just what was in my head from being a computer geek for 15+ years. Started out being an intern (at 29 years old) for a local security consulting firm and from there have rose through the ranks, worked with some of the countries brightest, and am now in a 100+ a year job as a Senior Network Security Engineer. I credit it all to wanting to learn everything, experience, and picking a niche' (security) to focus on and to excel in.

The above wasn't an ego trip just hopefully a nugget of guidance. :-)

you can do what im doing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976745)

been a programmer for 8 years.

im going to go off to Iraq to push a broom in a warehouse.

$110,000/yr tax free, cant argue with that.

Preaching to the choir? (1)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976751)

A job is 10% skills, 90% personality.

Slashdot's demographic is college students and a few well respected (and well paid) linux guru's. This isn't the best place to ask.

As long as you don't horribly suck at what you do, you're better off creating sincere work relationships with people who have the same career as you, or better ones.

Your certification might help, but only if the peers in your certification class become allies. Otherwise certification will get you no where except higher in your own organization if the pre-requisite is already established.

The job market isn't school. Your performance is worthless if no one knows you or likes you. Welcome to the real world. Jobs suck.

Niche (2, Insightful)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976755)

Everyone is going to post how you need a degree, do your time, and experience.

But... what you really need is a niche. Something that makes you special. What currently separates you from the 1,000s of other people looking to advance in the IT field.

A couple of good examples of niche areas are video encoding/decoding, foreign languages, streaming media, strange languages, etc...

Lets face it, many jobs have special needs, find an area that you can excel in. A recent example of a niche that earned me a job interview was Python. Not too many people know the language(of course everyone of them will respond to this statement), and I was able to get an interview(sadly not a job).

Resume spamming (1)

Alomex (148003) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976759)


For one stop sending out so many resumes and instead spend more time finding a job that is a perfect match for your skills.

A company who is looking for exactly your profile (11 years of experience on the Atari pong v2.2) will be willing to fork out extra cash for you. On the other hand, a company simply advertising for "C programmer" will be likelier to grab the cheapest person out of school.

You make $13 an hour??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976760)

Must look into outsourcing soon... -Andy's Boss

Get experince through open source work (1)

iroberts (672505) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976762)

Employers want experience, not just book learning. However, they aren't (always) particularly picky about whether you got paid while gaining that experince. Need experience in Foo? Find an open source project using Foo that interests you, and start contributing. Something small at first - just a simple patch. After the project maintainers start getting to know you (through your code), they'll likely start letting you contribute in more substantial ways.

Learn to sell yourself (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976773)

Learning more and more languages/technologies/protocols has merely resulted in a larger skill set on my resume, with pretty much the same level of experience, and no new interviews.

Learning to sell yourself is important. If prostitution isn't your thing, you can always learn how to make and sell crack.

Lucky Bastage... (1)

Valkyre (101907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976776)

I'd take a 13/hr IT job right now. I've worked for schools and some local businesses doing network consulting and maintenance since I was a freshman in high school (and I've had my MCSE certs just as long), but now I'm 20 and unemployed. I couldn't get a job as a help-desk 'tech' right now in Minnesota.

Depends... (1)

WaterDamage (719017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976779)

Do a search on Dice.com or any related job search engine and see what pays well. Then beef-up your skills in those in-demand areas and try to land that nice gig.

This holds true regardless of how the economy does. There will always be HOT unfilled positions no mater what.

These days if you have security clearance, you can land just about any high paying 100k+ job. Just like in the good old dot com days.

Two years from now the next hot in-demand skill might be...VP of Janitorials - Those automated toilets will need someone to fix someday, especially if they are run on Windows CE. ;-)

Seek and you shall find...

yes, but ... (2)

psycho_tinman (313601) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976783)

What do you *want* to do ? You want to climb the ladder of IT jobs, fine. I hear you. But, higher up the ladder, you don't get an easier job. You may get paid a bit better than $13 an hour, but your expectations will increase accordingly. What are you happy doing ?

I often kicked myself for graduating when I did. I got out of university about an year before the dot-com boom died. This was in 2000. People who graduated a mere year before me were in positions like "architect" and "senior team lead", I was a lowly developer. You can take all the experience you want, but some (most?) places DO look for prior management experience and even if you did nothing except crunch code, you were called an architect, so you get your foot in the door.

I had to go about it differently. I was a lowly developer. I tried to vary my skillset and technology. No job was too controversial, too risky, too cutting edge. I asked for (and got) all the mad projects, with high risk and high gain (and an equally high chance of failing). I am not sure if this will work for you, or even if you want to, but if you're looking for experience, then think carefully about accepting risky jobs. At startups, underfunded companies and the like. Don't expect to double or triple your salary today. Just keep getting that all important project, real-world experience. Contribute to open source projects. Keep your coding skills fresh. Make an effort to learn some technologies in depth. Call me troll if you like, but for now, Java and .NET both seem to be fairly good bets. Each month, each year you spend building up your resume, you're also in contact with coworkers who work in technology. Network. Get a reputation for good work, for not being a slacker, for being a knowledgable, reasonable person to work with.

I've gotten 3 (out of 4) jobs so far purely because of someone I knew who knew someone else who had a vacancy.. or from old university contacts .. or from old coworkers who knew I was looking around for another place...

The difference between you and a lot of other people ? You've got less to lose.

Good luck

Move up one iteration at a time (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976785)

for (i=bottom; i<=top && ambition; i++);

headhunters, etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976795)


Just watch out for Bernard Haldane, who will promise you the world and may cost you your shirt. Being sued by attorneys general in several states.

Search dejanews for more information, don't bother with google because all you get is the BH sites :(

Just Do Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8976798)

Don't worry about it anyway...you'll be dead soon, so just enjoy life.

don't neglect the soft skills (1)

zptdooda (28851) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976800)

This advice may be scorned but communication/presentation/public speaking courses could help round out your resume. Have you done much of this?

There's a lot to be said for playing your strengths and developing your core proficiency. It's tough though to shine a flashlight into neglected dingy corners of your skill set. If what you've been doing isn't giving you the results you want, try something else .

It could help across the board, such as at interview time. Or widening the spectrum of jobs, allowing you to be open to higher visibility jobs like teaching some of your core knowledge. Or taking a management/departmental head position. It could be an avenue to a successful career change.

You can go as a guest to a local Toastmasters meeting for free, or look into a Dale Carnegie course. There are many other programs, but you can't exclusively learn this online.

You sound highly skilled. Making it more visible would be a powerful addition and could make the difference you're looking for.

$13/hr is good money in some places! (1)

graveyardduckx (735761) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976806)

Seriously though! I made $35k at my last job as a network admin on a NT/2000 network and now I'm making $30k doing help desk work at my current job because the market is flooded here. HOWEVER, the cost of living is dirt cheap here compared to other parts of the country and even at $15/hr I'm living comfortably with no worries. Even $10/hr is good here.

Abandon Hope (1, Insightful)

the0ther (720331) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976815)

You can forget about more pay. The untold truth is that nobody outside of the top 10% of income earners has increased their income in the past 30 years. The bubble was your last great chance. It's pretty much downhill from here. On the bright side, Boston like NY, LA, SF probably is in the midst of a BIG housing bubble. Shortly that monument to optimism will come crashing down and your rent will fall, slightly.

Do your own app (1)

grunt107 (739510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8976817)

I must agree with the others that say to start your own business. Find a business that you know something about and create an app that would help them. Market it for a low rate to that business, with the caveat that you will improve the product for them, but will also be shopping it. This will give you LOTS of experience and firm knowledge the of design, development, debugging, and deployment cycle.
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