Friday, June 23, 2006

The Business of Blogging

On average a new blog is created every second of every day -- that's 75,000 new blogs a day, according to Technorati, a website that tracks the blogosphere. Many of these blogs are personal, but increasingly, they are seen as valuable business tools. In fact, . . .

"Blogs will make or break your business." This opening sentence sets the premise for a new research report published by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. The study surveyed 74 well-known and established bloggers in their respective fields.

From a business perspective blogs can act as "huge ongoing focus groups providing feedback and ideas." So the question that researchers asked was "how does a business enter and thrive in the blogosphere?"

The two primary reasons for starting a business blog are as follows (percentage of respondents):
  1. marketing / promotional use (31%)
  2. public relations / communicate with customers (27%)
Here are a few blogosphere truths outlined in the report:
  1. Blogs take time and commitment
  2. Blogs must be part of a plan
  3. A blog is a conversation
  4. Transparency, authenticity, and focus are good. Bland is bad.

For complete details access, Behind the Scenes in the Blogosphere: Advice from Established Bloggers (pdf).

Once you launch your business blog, consider providing a link to the iBlog Business Directory. Billed as the World’s First Business Blog Directory Solely Dedicated to Business and Corporate Blogs, your submission is free and the service could help put you in touch with potential readers for the business topic you are writing about.

What are the implications for Web designers and developers? That's easy. We possess the tools and information to help guide business leaders in establishing a presence on the Internet. A business blog is another tool designed to help businesses communicate and we are uniquely positioned to advise business leaders on the process. Download this report today, study it, and use it to open a dialogue with current and prospective clients.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

IT Labor Market Update

New online job ads increased in May according to The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series™. The number of new online job ads in May was slightly lower than the record levels in March. New England remains the region with the highest number of new online jobs. For every 100 workers there were 2.38 job ads.

A closer look at the technology marketplace reveals that U.S. tech employment is near an all-time high while unemployment is around 3.0%, near its record low. According to a
WashTech/CWA report unemployment is underreported and is actually around 3.6%. Any number less than 4% is below the national average for other sectors and suggests a healthy tech employment environment.

So where are the IT jobs? According to a quarterly survey of Chief Information Officers (CIOs), 13 percent of executives polled plan to add IT staff in the next three months and three percent anticipate cutbacks. The net 10 percent hiring increase is up two percentage points from the previous quarter’s forecast.

"As the employment market becomes more competitive, technology executives will need to focus their efforts on sound retention strategies," according to the
Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report.

When asked which technical skill sets were needed most within their IT departments, CIOs responded as follows (percent responding):

  • Microsoft Windows administration (Server 2000/2003) (79%)
  • network administration (Cisco, Nortel, Novell) (76%)
  • database management (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2) (69%)

The implication for Web designers and developers is clear: to improve marketability formalize your training and expand your experience in the following two areas:

  • Web server administration
  • database-driven Web applications
One class to consider is Firewall Basics available for FREE at the HP Learning Center.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Offshoring Update

Are technology jobs moving offshore? Research suggests that concerns are overblown. If fact, "IT positions requiring advanced degrees and business knowledge are growing at a pace on par with the boom years experienced in the 1990s," according to a newly released research study.

However, low-level technology jobs are most at risk for moving offshore. These jobs generally meet the following criteria:
  • labor intensive
  • easy to codify
  • requires little face-to-face contact

A press summary and a detailed report (pdf) of "Offshoring of Information-Technology Jobs: Myths and Realities" is available from American Sentinel University.

So, what are some of the high level technology jobs that are likely to continue to be in demand?

According to Money Magazine's
Best Jobs in America two of the Top 10 jobs are the following:

How does your job compare? Check out the statistics on The Top 50 jobs, as well as, 166 additional job titles.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Boston Market -- June

Average IT workers are doing well financially in America. Average is good enough to earn $73,000 as an IT staffer. If you have management expertise then average is good enough to earn $99,000 as an IT manager. These figures represent salaries (and bonus, if applicable) and do not reflect the value of benefits which can add an additional 30% beyond salary. These findings are summarized in the InformationWeek Research's National IT Salary Survey, an annual query of more than 10,000 technology professionals.

The lowest-paying IT jobs are in the following categories:

  • networking
  • training
  • IT support

Job titles matter. If you want to earn a six-figure income work your way into a job title that includes one of the following:

  • architect
  • sales support engineer

If you are manager the largest pay packages includes that following job functions:

  • data mining and data warehouse
  • human resources IT
  • Web infrastructure
  • ERP
  • enterprise application integration

Charts are available to graphically represent the compensation for staffers and managers in the most common IT functions. Compensation for Web design and development averages $64,000 for staffers and $88,000 for managers. How does your pay check compare?

So, what do you do if you want to enjoy a bigger pay day? Here are three options to consider:

  • acquire additional technology skills
  • prepare for a move into management
  • acquire business skills

"Technology is integrated into all aspects of business, which means technical aptitude alone will not suffice for IT candidates," according to a representative of Robert Half Technology. Their national poll of more than 1,400 CIOs from large companies reveals that forty-one percent said they are placing greater emphasis on job candidates’ knowledge of business fundamentals. To be competitive in today's IT marketplace technology workers need basic business proficiency in finance, marketing and management.

So, here's the training recommendation for June:

  • Learn higher level technology skills
  • Learn to manage projects and people
  • Learn more about business
In order to earn more you have to learn more. What you learn this month will be reflected in what you earn next month and beyond.

Friday, June 02, 2006

20 Questions

IT workers are on the move. Nearly half of all IT workers are planning a job change. Here are the three top reasons why technology professionals are testing the waters:

  • higher compensation
  • not liking their current company's management or corporate culture
  • seeking more personal fulfillment
The following "niche pockets" are seeing a greater than average demand for talent:

  • business analysis
  • project management

For details on the survey of more than 8,000 employed U.S. adults including more than 500 who hold IT jobs, access Information Week.

So, let's say you are a Web technology professional preparing to shop your talents. Here's a game plan for preparing for a potential interview.

  • Step #1 -- review the 20 potential interview questions below
  • Step #2 -- select one question a day for the next 20 days and formulate your response


A Seattle-based search engine optimization (SEO) company called SEOmoz developed the following 20 interview questions:

  1. What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly?
  2. Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?
  3. How comfortable are you with writing HTML entirely by hand?
  4. What is the w3c?
  5. Can you write table-less XHTML? Do you validate your code?
  6. What are a few of your favorite development tools and why?
  7. Describe/demonstrate your level of competence in a *nix shell environment
  8. What skills and technologies are you the most interested in improving upon or learning?
  9. Show me your portfolio!
  10. What sized websites have you worked on in the past?
  11. Show me your code!
  12. What are a few sites you admire and why? (from a webdev perspective)
  13. Fix this code, please.
  14. I just pulled up the website you built and the browser is displaying a blank page. Walk me through the steps you'd take to troubleshoot the problem.
  15. What's your favorite development language and why?
  16. Do you find any particular languages or technologies intimidating?
  17. Acronym time (oh boy!)
  18. What web browser do you use?
  19. Rank your interest in these development tasks from 1 to 5 (compiled from a list of tasks the job requires)
  20. What are a few personal web projects you've got going on?

For details about the rationale for each question access Interviewing Web Developers and consider SEOmoz for your search engine optimization needs as a way of rewarding them for their contribution to the Web development community.

Step #2

Tackle a few of the more time-consuming questions first, one at a time, because they can make the most difference in separating you from your potential competition. In particular, the questions related to organizing your work and training experiences include the following:

  • Show me your portfolio!
  • What sized websites have you worked on in the past?
  • Show me your code!
  • What are a few personal web projects you've got going on?
If you are just starting out and don't have an amazing portfolio, that's OK. You're not expected to. However, organizing the work you do have in one clean, easy-to-navigate Website can go a long way to making a positive first impression.

Remember: The World is Flat -- start running!