Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Technology Workers Wanted

Technology jobs openings are going unfilled because companies cannot find enough qualified workers.

More than 180 information technology (IT) employers were surveyed by CareerBuilder.com. Nearly half of these companies stated that they currently have open job positions for which they cannot find qualified candidates.

The survey didn't ask IT employers what jobs they were trying to fill. However, a spokesperson stated that IT employers who post job openings on the site are looking mostly to fill positions in the following disciplines:

  • computer programming
  • software engineering and development
  • Web-related functions
  • systems analysis

[Beantown Web will analyze these Web-related functions in a monthly "Boston Market" posting scheduled for later this week.]

A summary of this latest survey of technology employers is available at InformationWeek.

Life-long Learning

Life-long learning is a now a prerequisite for continued employment in technology fields.

A national poll of 1,400 chief information officers (CIOs) reveals that while technology training is needed, softer skills can also be improved on.

The top three skills that CIOs felt their team needed the most improvement in were as follows:

  • Technical abilities
  • Project management skills
  • Verbal & written communication abilities

A summary of this survey is available from Robert Half Technology.

Web technology professionals should consider developing a three-part game plan for acquiring non-technology competencies, such as project planning and communication, in addition to technical skills.

Project Management

Assignment: identify at least one project (preferably Web-related) in which you were a team leader (also preferable) or were a member of a team. Obtain feedback about your performance.

One example I use is the ability to prepare curriculum and manage a classroom for a one-week technical training module at CDIABU.

By having concrete examples of projects you have lead, you can comment about what you learned in the process. This demonstrates that you can get the job done in a timely manner, even if you may not have all of the technical skills required to complete the project.

Communication Skills

Assignment: Identify at least one project each where you can demonstrate your verbal and written communication skills.

The two communication projects I focus on to demonstrate my skills in this area are as follows:

  • verbal -- technical classroom instruction at CDIABU
  • written -- weekly blog articles at Beantown Web

Having concrete examples you can point to that demonstrate your verbal and written communication skills can help you land that next assignment, even if you may not currently possess all of the technical skills that the job requires.


Yes, you should develop a game plan to improve your technical skills, but remember, your non-technical skills, especially project management and communication (verbal and written), can help separate you from your competition.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Seven Year High

Technology workers are in demand as witnessed by a recent report issued by the
Bureau of Labor Statistics -- the unemployment rate for information technology (IT) professionals currently stands at a mere 2%.

The industry now employs more than 3.5 million people in the United States. This employment trend in the tech sector represents a seven year high. A summary of these findings is available courtesy of Information Week.

Let's take a look at the winners and losers in the current information technology (IT) jobs boom and identify one winning strategy that all Web technology professionals should be aware of moving forward.

Management Expertise

U.S. tech workers come in all flavors. One of the largest increases in the past seven years is in the category of management. IT management jobs account for 12% (423,000) of computer-related jobs. Manager jobs are up more than 50% since 2001. The reason for the increase is that more information technology professionals are taking on responsibilities in the following areas:

  • leading projects
  • managing systems
  • coordinating outsourcers & others vendors

Highlighting any of these three areas of responsibility in a cover letter and resume will go a long way toward enhancing employment opportunities.

Positioning for Future Opportunities

While the report identifies winners (software engineers) and losers (support specialists), it does not isolate trends for Web technology professionals. So, we'll have to read between the lines to identify how Web designers and developers can position themselves for future growth opportunities.

All websites are hosted on Web servers. The Web server marketplace comes in two general flavors:

  • Apache [open source]
  • Internet Information Server (IIS) [Microsoft]

As Web 2.0 continues to generate demand for dynamic, data-driven Websites, opportunities will continue to expand for Web professionals who can demonstrate scripting skills and database connectivity expertise. Two general skill-set options include the following:

  • PHP / MySQL [open source]
  • ASP.NET / SQL Server [Microsoft]

Apache, while still the market leader, continues to lose market share to Microsoft and stands at its lowest percentage of market dominance (54%) since the end of 1998. Microsoft (32%) continues to gain ground according to Netcraft's July 2007 Web Server Survey.

Web Development Implications

Microsoft's annual revenue for the recently concluded fiscal year surpassed $50 billion. Revenue growth can be traced to many factors including an increase in sales for development and database tools Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005. The beginning of the slide in Apache dominance can be traced directly to Microsoft's release of these products in late 2005.

Look for Microsoft to enter a new phase of growth as their vast marketing machine gears up for the release of Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 on February 27, 2008.

Where Do You Want to Go Today?

Prediction: Microsoft will become the dominant Web server platform by the end of 2008 -- or at least spend a boatload of money trying.

Web designers and developers who are open to learning Microsoft-centric tool sets should consider positioning themselves now for future opportunities by downloading Visual Web Developer 2005 Express and SQL Server 2005 Express (both FREE tools) and learning ASP.NET today.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Four Talking Points

What's the difference between being "confident" in your job prospects and being "happy" in your current job?

Two new studies provide insight and reveal four talking points you can use to discuss the prospects of future happiness in your current job or in one you might be interviewing for.

Average Workers Are Confident

A recent survey of more than 3,000 working adults shows confidence in the U.S. job market. A few key findings:

  • nearly two thirds (65 percent) of U.S. adult workers feel confident in the future of their current employer
  • more than three fourths (77 percent) of U.S. workers believe that it is unlikely that they will lose their jobs in the next twelve months

The Spherion Employee Confidence Index is a monthly gauge of overall worker confidence. The index increased to its highest number since February.

Addition findings reveal the following:

  • only 14 percent of U.S. adult workers are not confident in their own ability to find a new job

A detailed summary of the Employment Report detailing 12-month trends is available in pdf format.

Tech Executives Are Not Happy

The second study looks at above-average workers -- those who have reached the executive level. Nearly 60% of information technology (IT) executives say they're not satisfied or somewhat unsatisfied with their their jobs. Executives in human resources and finance are considerably happier with their current jobs.

A survey of more than 2,000 executives by ExecuNet, an executive career networking firm, revealed this finding.

So, what's bugging IT leaders? The top job complaints include the following:

  • limited advancement opportunities
  • lack of challenge/personal growth
  • differences with culture
  • boss not a good match

Only 9% of all executives cited compensation as a top reason for being unhappy with their jobs.

A summary of these finds is available from InformationWeek. A more detailed Executive Job Market Intelligence Report (pdf) is also available from ExecuNet.

Take Home Message

American workers appear to be happy with the jobs they have and feel confident of finding a new one if they have to. However, the higher one climbs the corporate ladder the more dissatisfied one tends to become.

To minimize your risk of future job dissatisfaction consider introducing these four talking points when interviewing for a new position:

  1. Tell me about opportunities for advancement within this organization.
  2. Provide me with examples of how you challenge employees and encourage them to grow professionally.
  3. Tell me more about the corporate culture within this organization.
  4. Provide me with examples of your personal management style.

Satisfactory responses to these four talking points might reveal whether or not you will be "happy" in the long term with this employer or "confident" that you will be moving on to another opportunity in the near future.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Boston’s Web Innovators Group (WebInno)

A gathering of Boston’s leading entrepreneurs and Web/Mobile experts will take place on Monday, July 9. If you are looking to learn more about Web 2.0 start-ups and want to network with Boston-based business and technology professionals, then this event is for you.

WebInno Mission

Web Innovators Group (WebInno) is comprised of people engaged in Internet and mobile innovation in the Boston area. They aim to support entrepreneurs, visionaries, and creative thinkers in the field by holding events which foster community interaction.


Three "main dish" presenters will take the stage for a six-minute demo of their service:
Each "side dish" demonstrator will give a 30-second overview of their service followed by a showcase of their companies at tables spread throughout the room:
Job Seekers

Job Seekers and employers will have an easy time connecting at the event because employers looking for talent will identify themselves with a colored sticker on their name badge.

The event will be held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel Cambridge and will begin at 6:30 pm. To register for this FREE event access the WebInno Wiki.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Boston Market -- 3rd Quarter, 2007

"Tight labor markets in many areas of the country and in specific occupations and industries like IT and healthcare are forcing companies to advertise more aggressively than last year in order to find the employees they need," according to a representative of
The Conference Board.

"We do not expect economic growth to accelerate until the end of the year, but finding the right employee is already a challenge in many areas of the country."

Access the July
Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series™ press release (pdf) for details.

Top 30 Countdown

Each quarter Beantown Web conducts an extended analysis of the 30 most in-demand Web-related skills in the greater Boston area, based on keyword searches. This quarter is the first to utilize the new Boston.com/Monster website.

The Top 10 Web Technologies in Boston have been updated and appear in the right-hand column. Average Salaries in Boston have also been updated.

The Web Design skills most in-demand are as follows:
The Web Programming skills most in-demand are as follows:The Database skills most in-demand are as follows:The Second Ten

The second ten most in-demand skills are as follows:
  1. Photoshop [ 375 ]
  2. Java Server Pages (JSP) [ 356 ]
  3. ASP.NET [ 349 ]
  4. Flash [ 303 ]
  5. VB.NET [ 266 ]
  6. Ajax [ 262 ]
  7. Illustrator [ 218 ]
  8. MySQL [ 197 ]
  9. PHP [ 195 ]
  10. Acrobat [ 172 ]
The Third Ten

The third ten most in-demand skills are as follows:
  1. Dreamweaver [ 155 ]
  2. DHTML [ 155 ]
  3. Visual Studio [ 152 ]
  4. DB2 [ 142 ]
  5. Python [ 135 ]
  6. InDesign [ 110 ]
  7. Quark [ 103 ]
  8. XHTML [ 96 ]
  9. VBScript [ 88 ]
  10. ColdFusion [ 86 ]
The Others

The following keyword searches did not make this quarter's Top 30 Countdown:
Next Step -- Friday, August 3

The best training value in the greater Boston area this summer focuses on C# (pronounced C Sharp), one of the Top 10 Web Technologies. C# is the most popular language used in conjunction with ASP.NET, Microsoft's technology for creating dynamic Web applications. You can start learning about C# by accessing Getting Started with Visual C#.

Then, register for a
FREE Day of C# Training on Friday, August 3!

More job descriptions mention C# (583) than mention Illustrator (218), Dreamweaver (155), InDesign (110) and Fireworks (27) combined! Can you afford to pass up this opportunity?