Ten Tech Jobs And the Hoops You’ll Have to Jump Through

IT recruiters have a habit of complaining that they can’t find enough qualified candidates. The truth is they have problems with just some positions, but if you have the skills and the willingness, you should be able to find a spot.

TechRepublic’s Justin James has crafted a list of ten IT positions that are waiting for you to fill them

Do any of the following positions appeal to you? Do any repel you? Share your thoughts below. 

IT Trainer: “The fact that being a trainer differs in many ways from the typical IT job, along with the frequent need for travel, makes it a ‘tough hire.’”

Project Manager: “To earn a PMP certification, you need to be managing a project, but it can be hard to get project management work without the certification. As a result, the talent pool is artificially small.” You may find yourself filtered out.

CIO/CTO: Leadership positions require you to have skills that you often don’t learn in the typical IT job. “It’s difficult to find someone who has good ‘crossover’ skills.”

Help Desk Staff: These jobs usually pay far less than you’ll accept. Tight budgets make it hard to hire, but if you’re really desperate, maybe you’ll sign on.

Specialized Programmer: “Device drivers, operating systems, and mobile applications: developers who know how to write these kinds of software and do a good job of it are exceedingly rare…or there is a high demand for a relatively small number of developers.”

Pre-Sales Engineer: “This job is almost pure customer service, often in person, which you may not want to deal with. Do you have the heart of a salesperson wrapped in the mind of an IT pro?”

Technical Writer: Developers often have to become technical writers by default because technical writers are hard to find, and good ones are even tougher to find.

Product Evangelist: “You need to travel constantly, have an absolute passion for the work and for the company and its specific products, as well as the technical knowledge and soft skills to handle the job.”

IT Author: There’s a lot of churn here. You may be bursting with ideas now, but will you still be bursting a few months down the line after you’ve written everything you can think of?

Maintenance/Legacy Programmer: “Few programmers are willing to take these jobs because they are the kiss of death for a career. In an industry where cutting edge today is obsolete in a few years, working with technology already considered legacy means that you are likely to be stuck with the job for a long, long time, unless you are willing and able to reinvent yourself outside the workforce.”

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  1. Proud Paulbot

    Technical writing appealed greatly to me. Then I found out that to be a technical writer, I had to be fluent in PageMaker and RoboHelp. At first, I thought, no problem; I’ll just buy them and learn them at home. Then I found out that those programs cost a thousand bucks a pop…way more than I could afford to speculate on.

    This is why, I am convinced, so much technical documentation is poorly written. Companies don’t hire competent writers. They hire people who know how to use those expen$ive programs, but who read and write on about a 5th grade level and cannot compose a coherent sentence. It would be much better to just hire a competent writer and train them on the programs. I cannot imagine that it would take more than a day or two to learn them.

    • If you think you can learn this in a few days, then just download the trial versions. They are good for 30 days. Google “robohelp trial” and both Adobe sites and softpedia.com sites will get you what you need.

      From prior posts of yours, I gather you are a recent college grad that did not do summer internships with tech companies while in school. If you only graduated in the last few years, I recommend you use your school’s contacts at the consoling center with companies to get an internship with a tech company. Yeah, the consoling is not worth much, but the contacts are gold. Also go to every interview you can get during the end of semesters. Get good at interviews by doing them.

      You have to do this ASAP. At some point if you’ve been out of school too long, you might not be considered. I think the programs are targeted at actual students. (Maybe you can go part time for a class to qualify again.)

      You’ve posted a few times that the internships will be unpaid and you can’t afford that. I can appreciate that, however, lots (if not most) of tech companies pay their interns. I’m certain most of the big companies do (MS, HP, IBM, Oracle, etc). glassdoor.com lists lots of IT intern salaries ranging from $10/hr to 5k/month. Yes, they might be bogus, but I think 20-25/hr is a realistic salary for an intern in the bay area (not sure where you are). Your sources that say you have to take it unpaid are non-tech sources? IDK where they get their info from. The last technical writer interns got paid where I work.

      Final recommendations:
      Look at job postings for the companies and find a common skill that they need. Maybe Python or SQL or xml. Learn as much as you can about it and run with that. You don’t need a job to learn something. You don’t have to be an expert. Just show you can learn and have some skill. And back it up in the interview. (yes, you can’t predict what you will be asked, but you can prepare how you will answer almost anything with examples of what you’ve learned and the initiative you took on your own.)

      If you get an internship work hard. Put in extra hours. Own what they give you to do. If they like you, you may get offered a permanent job. This is the best way to get into a company.
      Lastly, keep your head up and watch what is going on around you. How others work and interact with each other. If you like it, learn from it. If you don’t like it, make note, because if they do offer you a permanent position, you may want to reject it. Internships work both ways. Evaluate them too.

      Good luck.

      • Perhaps I am missing something but I think a point being made by Proud Paulbot is the lack of real world experience with the application will effectively prevent him from even being considered. Market indications are the days of employers interviewing and hiring folk with proven ability to learn are over; now the employers want a candidate who knows the tool(s) that will be used.

      • Proud Paulbot

        I tried to get internships while I was in university. I was not qualified for any of them…because they weren’t really “internships.” They were unpaid (and low-paid — no more than $12.00/hour, most less than that) temp jobs that required at least two years of experience, plus a portfolio and a laundry list of programming languages. They DID want experts. Going through online tutorials at home was not going to prepare me for those jobs.

        As RMS pointed out, there are no entry-level opportunities for hard workers who are eager to learn. In addition to the market being flooded with H-1B’s, Baby Boomers who lost their 401k’s are unable to retire. Thus, they are willing to take those $7.00 – $12.00/hour “internships.” With this in mind, why would anyone hire and train a newbie? This is a problem in all fields right now, not just tech.

        Anyway, even if I were experienced, I am unemployable in any field now because my credit is ruined. That’s what happens when you go without a full-time income for as long as I did. Knowing that I have no chance of getting a job, I I no longer look for jobs. I take *work* wherever I can find it, and I don’t have the skills for IT work…or the time to pore over tutorials. I need to spend my time making money so that my family and I can survive.

  2. Then there are those of us who have been out of the IT workforce for a while and cannot get back in despite 20+ years of experience, awards and recognition, and the desire to work.

    I’ve even tried to get back in as a Help Desk employee but what I get asked when applying for those types of positions are:
    1) all of your experience is in the telecom area. You don’t have any experience in (XXX) billing. I can’t let you talk to the manager. (I’ve actually been told that. XXX billing=banking, retail, etc. Forget the fact that telecom billing is rather complicated – look at your phone bill)
    2) you’ve been gone so long – are you sure you can do this? (why wouldn’t I be able to do this?)
    3) you made so much money before when you were working – are you sure you will work longer than two days for this amount? (would I be applying if I didn’t want a job?)
    4) you have so much technical experience – won’t you be bored doing this? (again: would I be applying if I didn’t want a job?)
    5) you have PM cert from a specific company. Do you have your PMI Cert? (duh – read my resume. It is specific to a particular company, not PMI. Why do you keep asking me this?)

    I’m sorry, but over the years (mostly when I was working) I have found that most IT recruiters DO NOT know how to read a resume and interview a candidate effectively (yes, I did some of that too when I worked for a consulting company). Many of them feel like they hold the keys to the castle, so to speak. IMO that’s why there are openings for many of the job types you’ve mentioned.The recruiters simply do not know how to talk about the work they’re interviewing for and as a result do not know when they have a candidate that can do what they say they can do.

    Yes, I know there are LOTS of “IT People” out there who will put a skill on their resume because they worked in a department where that skill/software/whatever was used but they didn’t actually touch it, but if the recruiters knew what they were doing they would be able to see that. (again, this is from MY experience interviewing candidates)

  3. An enthusiastic Maintenance/Legacy Programmer with a passion for smooth running systems, I am having great difficulty finding work, either advertised or through networking. With twenty years experience in technical applications roles within IT, an eight-year gap to raise children seems to be proving lethal. My strength is applications systems maintenance and support (analyzing failures and implementing permanent solutions), and I thoroughly enjoy the work.

    Stuck with a job for a long, long time? I never felt like I was stuck with a job. I chose the legacy systems support roles time and again because I found the work enjoyable and rewarding. I want to work on legacy systems again, and I am looking for a position where I can grow in knowledge within a company so that I can make increasingly valuable contributions through the end of my working career (over 15 years). Oh, how I wish I could find those positions that are just waiting to be filled!

    • You are not alone. Sadly it seems, according to at least one source, college students and grads lack the ability to maintain so-called legacy systems. I read, but cannot locate, one source which stated some big companies are now actively seeking college students in an attempt to grow a supply of legacy-capable-MEllenials. Strangely noone seems to be actively seeking out experienced programmers with a background in legacy systems.

    • Sounds like you and I are in the same boat, ELA.

      Based on the comments I’m seeing here the problem seems to be the RECRUITERS, not our skill set.
      But I guess that’s always been the case, huh? Non-technical people doing the screening for technical jobs. You’d think the hiring companies would get a clue about this.

      Andy BTW, I’ve also tried to get a job as a recruiter based on my technical background and the answer comes back on that “you don’t have any recruiting experience”. Excuse me? I did tech interviews and resume reviews when I was consulting but didn’t hold the actual title of recruiter.

      Like I said before – the recruiters DO NOT know how to read a resume and it seems to me they are causing this “shortage” of experienced and qualified candidates.

  4. Phil Maywalt

    IT Training Jobs–I have almost 20 years of IT training experience, with both stellar pass and evaluation percentages ans still can’t find work in the Philadelphia market which I have been looking to move into for a few years, so I might tend to disagree with the training job fills!

  5. DTW ITGuy

    I remember working for a major city’s IT department. We had a few good contract tech writers, but as IT budgets tighten; the department wanted programmers and developers to do the writing themselves and let go good quality tech writers. That was a bad idea in the early 2000s and it is why there is this problem now.

  6. Over 25 years of experience in IT. I have worked for small business as well as Fortune 500 companies. My last position (15 years) was a Network Security Engineer at a very well known company where I won several outstanding employee awards. MCSE, CISSP,CCNA and many other certifications.

    I live in the Chicago area and if I told you how long I have been out of a job, you would most likely say I am “not looking hard enough” or ” you don’t really want to work”. I have kept up my skills with (very pricey) training and certifications for which I have paid out of pocket. But yet, I will not even get callbacks for technical support positions paying $13.50 an hour.

    From what recruiters have told me, they have strict instructions not to forward resumes to HR if you are not currently working.

    The positions I see day-in-day-out are “Entry-Level”, but yet they require “expert” knowledge in programming + database management + system administration + routers + Linux + Windows, etc. A Jack-of-ALL-trades-and-master-of-all position for a short order cook salary.

    Business cries to and begs for grants from the government and also tells the press that there are no qualified Americans in the technology field and that they are hurting. B.S.

    What I have come to realize is that what they really mean, is that there are no American PhD’s in Computer Science with ten years experience with high level programming projects willing to work ninety hours a week for $10 an hour and no overtime pay.

    • Proud Paulbot

      People who claim that you aren’t “looking hard enough,” or that you must be doing something “wrong,” just don’t get that there’s a Depression going on in this country.

      My favorite ones are the ones who claim that “anyone can always go work at McDonald’s” and that “there are jobs for anyone who wants to work”…while simultaneously screaming about how Obummer has wrecked the economy. HUH? Which is it: has Obummer wrecked the economy or are there jobs for anyone who is willing to work hard? The two cannot coexist, and the fact that so many Americans cannot grasp such simple logic makes me fear for the future of this country.

      ——The positions I see day-in-day-out are “Entry-Level”, but yet they require “expert” knowledge in programming + database management + system administration + routers + Linux + Windows, etc.——-

      I have seen that as well. This is why I will never use my Math/CIS degree. Going through tutorials at home–as many well-meaning but clueless people have suggested–will not qualify me for jobs like that. Those employers will NOT hire people who have NO experience, regardless of how many tutorials they went through. Not to mention, I don’t have time to spend hours a day going through tutorials because I have to spend that time chasing money.

      There is no entry-level job market anymore, not in tech, not in any other field, with the exception of nursing. H-1B’s and offshoring are a factor, but so are Baby Boomers who cannot retire because their 401k’s were wiped out when the economy crashed. With so many highly experienced Boomers willing to take $7.00/hour jobs, it’s no wonder that employers won’t hire kids or older career-changers.

      There are between 4-5 applicants for EVERY SINGLE JOB OPENING in the country. This means that, regardless of how skilled, experienced, personable and intrepid each applicant for a particular job is, 3-4 of them are going to walk away empty-handed. It’s called the pigeonhole principle. Those who keep denying that there’s a Depression should LOOK IT UP. Numbers don’t lie.

      The only advice I can give you is to stop looking for jobs and instead look for gigs. Look on oDesk and Craigslist; post your own ads under “gigs” on Craigslist. Be willing to work outside of tech, including in manual labor jobs. While there are no jobs, there are short-term gigs, and some of them pay well. I just finished a marketing gig that paid $15 – $18/hour — over twice what I would have made in a help desk job (which would have been harder and had more qualifications).

      • Proud Paulbot-
        I now understand why you don’t use your Math/CIS degree when looking for anything that pays. I have been applying for part-time jobs in retail and gotten no response. At the beginning of the month I applied again (for probably the third time) at a particular retailer and didn’t fill out the ‘job experience’ section of the online application. I did upload a resume’ with a cover letter explaining my absence from the workforce for the past 10 or so years. I got a call asking if I had every worked, if I wanted to interview for the job and questioning why I hadn’t put any job experience in the online application. I explained that I had uploaded my resume’ with a cover letter and briefly what I had done when I was working. The “HR Manager” told me “oh, I didn’t see that. I’ll look for it, but when you come for the interview please bring it.” That makes me wonder why he didn’t look for it in the first place.
        Needless to say I’m less than impressed with that, but am going for the ‘interview’ anyway.
        These days a job is a job.

        • The labor market is structurally broken. This is not a Depression. It is worse. This is the collapse of the Soviet Union, Part 2. We smirked when the Soviet Union collapsed, as if we had won a competition. Now it is their turn to smirk.

          I am an activist. I have a plan. Google “IdeaFarm ™ Operations”.

  7. I write as a trained economist who wrote PL/1 code in 1974 for the OS/SVS 360 computer that IBM gave UCLA. I have been continuously active as a software developer since that time. IMO, in a nutshell, the market for technical workers is broken, and the dysfunction is not particular to technical work, but rather is merely a facet of a social breakdown that has metastasized. Business transactions, and indeed all significant social transactions and relationships, are built upon trust. Trust comes from shared moral values and world views. To fix what is wrong with the market for technical workers, everyone, on both sides of the table, must undergo the personal transformation of thinking about WE rather than about ME.

    Complaining about H1B workers is an example of thinking about ME rather than WE. The reality today is that the market for any kind of work that can be done at a computer is a global market. That is not going to change, and it is a good thing from a WE perspective. It is good for whoever is the most competitive worker, and it is good for the people who hire him or her.

    • Proud Paulbot

      The problem I have with H-1B’s is different than the one most posters on this site have: the H-1B visa creates legalized indentured servitude. H-1B’s have less freedom than illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants can, at least, quit a job if the work situation is abusive. They don’t have to fear deportation because if their former employer reports them, then the employer will be busted for hiring illegal workers. The H-1B, OTOH, is immediately deported should they quit — or even lodge a valid complaint about, say, pay issues or workplace safety. They are *chained* to a particular employer. The employer can do whatever it pleases to the H-1B, and the H-1B cannot complain.

      This sort of scenario simply has no place in a free society; there is absolutely no way to defend the existence of indentured servitude in a free society. It goes against everything this country supposedly stands for. People should just be able to immigrate here or not, period, and everyone who is permitted entry into the country should have the same rights. THAT would be a free market. THAT would be living up to our alleged standard of “The Shining City on the Hill.”

      • H1B’s are not abducted in Central Africa by white slavers, stuffed into bilges, and then auctioned in Charleston to plantation owners. The typical H1B is a highly educated, computer and Internet literate person who makes an informed voluntary choice to enter into an indenture contract. To presume that these people are harmed by the existence of these opportunities is, at best, paternalistic and self serving.

        I am a libertarian. Indenture is fully compatible with liberty. Two informed people who want to voluntarily make an indenture contract should not be prevented from doing so.

        One of the problems with the H1B situation is that it gives these foreign workers a competitive advantage. The playing field should be leveled by allowing US citizens to offer to indenture themselves.

      • Proud Paulbot

        OK, I didn’t express my feelings properly. =)

        The H-1B visa in and of itself creates an indentured class, which is what I have a problem with. A visa should just be a visa, period; people should either be allowed into the country or denied entry, and those who are allowed in should have the same rights as anyone else.

        Whether a visa holder chooses to indenture themselves after coming to the U.S. should be up to them. The indenture contract should be between the visa holder and the employer, with no gov’t involvement, and the gov’t should not be deporting people because they ended a private indenture contract; that’s crazy. They should, instead, not be allowed to collect any welfare benefits–if they can’t support themselves, that’s their problem–but then again, I don’t believe in welfare for anyone.

        ——Two informed people who want to voluntarily make an indenture contract should not be prevented from doing so. One of the problems with the H1B situation is that it gives these foreign workers a competitive advantage. The playing field should be leveled by allowing US citizens to offer to indenture themselves.———

        I agree, but but the playing field should also be leveled for immigrants granted entry into the country. Everyone permitted entry should enjoy the very same rights and corresponding responsibilities.

  8. I too share in alot of the frustration! I have over 16 years exp. in the IT/Telecommunications sector. I can’t seem to get hired for “Anything”. Either i know too much or i don’t know enough,c’mon!! I am willing to work hard and need the work to survive…I can’t even get hired buy Walmart or best buy(yes i am willing to work for much lower wages) it is my impression that those type of companies prefer to hire people who are unskilled and “stupid”. They “assume” that i have no intention of staying long term, but the fact is if its a steady paying job, i need to and will!! so very frustrating!!!!!!!!! HELP!!! I WANT TO WORK

  9. Proud Paulbot:

    These jobs are advertised in India as entry level. In the USA the bar is raised. Recently INFOSYS was busted for illegal labor practices including L1 visa fraud and a big trial is pending. If you research the terms INFOSYS, illega labor, H1-B visa, and Senator Chuck Grassley, there is a lot of interesting information.

    One post actually states that Indian gangs pose as recruiters, and after getting a gang member hired, the manager is harassed until they are fired, and another gang member takes the manager job. Then they only hire Indians, never Americans (unless as a figure-head front for appearances).

    Please do not blame “Boomers” they are people just like you. Blame the corruption and legal loop holes that allow this economic treason. A loose cannon taking pot shots at fellow human beings is of no help. It is not the fault of Indians, Mexicans, Chinese, or any other peoples; the problem is the laws that permit this travesty. Focus on changing the laws rather than attacking your fellow man.

    • Proud Paulbot

      Xtek: I’m not blaming the Boomers at all. It’s not their fault that the Banksters ruined the economy and destroyed their 401k’s. They’re just trying to survive, like everyone else. Nor am I blaming H-1B’s or immigrants.

      I put the blame for the economy where it belongs: solely on the Banksters and the government they are in bed with. Note that this does NOT mean I am blaming “capitalism,” I am blaming CRONY capitalism:


      As Larry Flynt said a couple of years ago, corporations don’t control the government; they ARE the government.

      (If RON PAUL is not on my ballot when it is handed to me, he will be when I hand it back. I refuse to vote for Obomney or Obomney. I cannot save this country on my own…but I refuse to vote for it to be destroyed.)

  10. One other thing. I became aware of the lawsuit against INFOSYS by Senator Chuck Grassley after reading an article on DICE claiming that computer jobs will be in great demand. The article included references to Comp TIA which also conveniently offered training.

    Being suspicious, I googled the terms like: “Comp TIA” and propaganda and H1-B. This line of inquiry lead to the discovery that these “news” articles, claiming a shortage skilled labor, are used to to justify to congress more H-1B and other types of visas. Comp TIA even gets government money by offering training under the auspices of the government. There is a long list of benevolent sound names of organizations that are actually fronts in this massive collusion.

    I had to really search the web for this information it is not readily available. I searched everything and also news, and several layers deep into the google search, I stumbled upon the video by CBS news about the whistle blower at INFOSYS and the pending lawsuit by Grassley. INFOSYS is only one company implicated and this could potentially devastate the Indian IT Industry, which is heavily dependent upon American work VISAS. This could be the big break for American workers, or it could just be a slap on the wrist and back to business as usual.

    The outcome of the lawsuit notwithstanding, it is doubtful that I will live long enough to benefit from any positive change. There are powerful forces that will fight this tooth and nail. Those are the nails in our coffin.

    As my last savings dwindle, I face my demise, and reflect: this is how it finally ended. I was brought up to salute the flag and to believe in America. I went to school and worked hard on the job. In the end I was disenfranchised and left twisting in the wind by America. It will not be a gallant death like a soldier dying for god and country. No, it will be a slow starvation, the humiliation of destitution, and the final act of self-mercy in deliverance from this hell. Like rats in a cage we ask “who moved my cheese?”

    I am now aware that I will never get a job. The recruiters that constantly contact me are part of a mob that controls labor. They are using me and playing like a cat with a mouse, or like offering a dog a bone, then sadistically pulling it away at the last second.

    So this is how it ends folks. They simply cut you off and then you slowly die. While in your final struggles they will loudly mock you and call you names. You will die alone with no mercy surrounded by millions of people yet still very much alone with death.

    • Proud Paulbot

      This isn’t the America I grew up in, either. In that America, a willingness to work hard and apply oneself actually meant something. I’ve been working since the day after I turned 16. I would have started working before then, if the gov’t hadn’t put so many restrictions on my age group that employers didn’t want to bother with me.

      When I was 18 years old, I was homeless, yet I refused to collect a dime of welfare; I solemnly vowed that I would die on my feet before I lived on my knees. I pulled myself out of homelessness through sheer work ethic…which is why it enrages me when strangers on the Internet dare question my work ethic. I doubt they would have gotten as far as I did, from the background I emerged from. They either would have killed themselves or went on welfare.

      As another poster pointed out, this country is broken, and every day more and more people are falling out of the middle class — and above. There are people who once made six-figure incomes who cannot get jobs at Pizza Hut. Mark my words: those who snidely point fingers at people like you and I, who tell us it is our fault we cannot find steady work, will soon stand where we stand now. It’s only a matter of time before the rug is ripped right out from under them.

      I hope you find a way to survive. I really do.

    • Proud Paulbot

      Excellent article.

      This quote jumped out at me:

      ——“When we post an opening for an IT position, even a senior IT position, we’re flooded with the resumes of people whose only work experience includes a coffee shop and perhaps a retail store.”——–

      When I was in university, the “career center” routinely sent us job ads for what were clearly senior positions, requiring not only a long list of programming languages and technologies, but 5-7 YEARS of experience and a portfolio. We students WERE TOLD WE SHOULD APPLY FOR THOSE JOBS REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT WE DIDN’T COME CLOSE TO MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS. I am not making this up. This is what the “career center” instructed us to do. One “counselor” in particular was fond of adding a cheery little line about, “The worst thing that can happen is nothing!”

      Um, no. The worst thing that can happen is that the company is so angry that you wasted their time that they blacklist you, and will never consider you for any postion ever again, not even a receptionist job.

      I doubt my school is the only one engaging in these shenanigans.

      I suppose the fact that I knew the “advice” to apply for senior-level IT jobs even if your only job experience was at Toys ‘R Us was futile at best, damaging at worst, means I’ve got “business knowledge.” =)

    • The word “shortage” should always raise the eyebrow of anyone who has had even just one course in economics. The only circumstance that I can think of in which the term is not utterly empty hyperbole is when the job requires a rare combination of skills and personality attributes. When applied to commodities such as entry level coders, the term is always pure BS.

      In the beginning of time, IBM came up with the brilliant idea of showering programmers with praise and elite status. This was far cheaper than paying them in cold hard cash. Programming was a new occupation with an unknown future, and people had no exposure to anything like it to draw from when getting the hang of the job. Today is a totally different situation. Yesterday, I saw an infant in a stroller playing a computer game with a PDA. Entry level people bring enough familiarity with computers to the job, and the job itself is so much easier than it used to be, that it is time to bury the ideas about computer programming being some kind of special, elite job that were once justified by the facts but now no longer are.

      • DigitalSpirit

        While it is true that programmers without guidance have to struggle greatly to do even simple tasks with new technology, you are not taking into account the fact that the wealth of programming knowledge has exponentially exploded and we are required to keep up with it. Being a programmer is like being jacked into The Matrix with a rush of data constantly washing over your brain. I take offense to your ignorant perspective on modern programmers, who are struggling fiercely to get to the top in a world that doesn’t appreciate them in the form of cold hard cash.

        • I agree with all of what you say, and your idea was in the back of my mind as I wrote. In the sense that you are focusing on, the job has become much more difficult, and anyone who does honest work deserves respect. There are many facets to the dysfunction, and you and I are looking at two of them.

          A big part of the problem is what I call “churning”. Most of the learning that is forced upon programmers (and on the companies who must foot the bill) is unnecessary in the sense that it is not necessitated by any increase in functional capability. We must keep learning new ways to do the same old thing. This is caused by economic forces created by market structure. Lot’s of people have a financial stake in ensuring that you have to keep learning AND PURCHASING new tools to do the same old thing. It’s like men’s suits, which change just enough to force you to buy a new one rather than keep using the one that you bought when you were 22. (Does anyone reading this own a suit? 🙂

      • So what that you saw an infant playing a computer game. That means nothing relevant to current or future technical ability beyond playing games or listening to an iPod. I’ve lost track of the MEllenials who are effectively clueless when it comes to using a computer to actually do something useful like produce a document (with spell checking !), a spreadsheet, a program that is more complex than “hllo wrld !”, etc.

        • Your post is yet another defensive reaction to my attempt to highlight a structural change that I observed over the 35 year period in which I have been a professional software developer. Thirty five years ago, programmers enjoyed high social status, but it wasn’t about the money. When you factor in all of the unpaid time that we spent learning, we were paid quite poorly. We didn’t mind that, though, because we were so totally intellectually engaged with the computer that we would have, and often did, program for free. The programming job of today bears only a distant relationship to the programming job of 35 years ago, looking at the mental and emotional and personality aptitudes and characteristics that were required then versus what are required today.

          There are other structural changes that I could tell you about. Human society is a jungle, a wild and predatory place, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. If you want to even just survive, much less thrive, you must understand your world. The key to that is to understand economics. Speaking generally, programmers are sitting ducks in a shooting gallery, prey victimized by predators in a jungle that they do not comprehend.

      • Proud Paulbot

        RMS — as a Child of the 80’s, I was astounded to find how many of my Millennial classmates at university had no idea how to use Microsoft Office. I’m an expert with it, even though I grew up with typewriters; the old WP 5.1 came onto the scene about the time I got out of high school. They, conversely, grew up with this stuff. How can anyone who grows up with Word get to college without ever using it?

        So much for the young being in tune with technology.

      • Proud Paulbot

        ——Most of the learning that is forced upon programmers (and on the companies who must foot the bill) is unnecessary in the sense that it is not necessitated by any increase in functional capability. We must keep learning new ways to do the same old thing.——–

        With new programming languages coming out daily, it has occurred to me to ask an unthinkable question: how many programming languages do we really need? Are ALL of these new languages really “better” than existing ones, or are they just shiny, sparkly and brandy-new?

        It reminds me of the pharmaceutical industry, which keeps putting out new, expensive drugs–always timed to hit the market at the SAME MOMENT that patents on existing drugs expire–that are only marginally different than previous ones.

        Google “Rezulin” sometime. That was a Type II diabetes drug that killed a bunch of people before being pulled off the market. The “difference” between Rezulin and its predecessors (other than the existing drugs weren’t fatal)? Rezulin was a once-a-day pill, while existing drugs had to be taken 2x/day.

        That brings up another question: how stable and secure are these shiny, sparkly, brandy-new languages? Are programs written with them going to put people’s personal data at risk? Does anyone ever ask that question, or is everyone hypnotized by the shiny objects?

  11. I tried the “intern” route recently as well. I wrote and asked about an experienced person being eligible for an entry level job and was told sure, come on over.
    After more conversation with the recruiter (who had a distinct Indian accent, and I am not referring to Native Americans) it was explained to me that I would be in a training program for several months, then I would have to ‘sign a document’ that basically said I would work for who they told me to work for and where for two years or I would be liable for repaying the training expenses of several thousand dollars. It sounded very much like an H1-B situation, which I politely declined. That type of situation is OK for some people I guess, but maybe I’m just not that desperate for a job that I am willing to relocate, work for very low wages and then have to leave my family for many months at a time (particularly with elderly parents living near me).

    I guess that’s why we have the H1-B situation we have. Experienced IT people like me aren’t willing to be abused in the workplace, which is what it seems to me the H1-B situation is for many (but not all) people.

    I realize this makes me sound like I don’t want to work, but that’s not the case. I just don’t want to put myself in a position that I cannot get out of without rather severe monetary penalties should I have an emergency that requires I be in town and available to my family.

  12. I started off as technical support after I graduated college 18 years. It was a small shop and I was junior Unix administrator, help desk and technical support. I learned how to write c-shell and bash scripts, I created unix make files to execute my CInformix-sql application which ran our Accuvocie IVR system. I had a great technical support experience but it very much relies on the size of the company. Small companies have no problem giving you additional duties on top of the ones in you job description, the challenge is finding those great companies.

  13. karidrgn

    For entry level positions…my 1st job a long time ago was a govt. job. Because the pay is lower and the systems tend to be older, you might have better luck in finding a position – less competition. that 1st job is the hardest – I know it was a hard transition from mainframe to Java development. It’s taken a long time for me to get the # of years where having someone with a couple of years more doesn’t make that much difference. I think there has been some discrimination over my being a woman.

  14. ecole67

    I have an interest in Training and have been trying to break into it for a while now. I do not have any formal tech training other than two CompTia courses (A+ and Network +, no certs), but I was fortunate enough to work for small company for 11 of the last 14 years that allowed me OTJ training with its software and network setups. I discovered I have the ability to translate “tech speak” to the traditional end-user, and vice versa. My experience is based in the healthcare industry, so one would think that it wouldn’t be too difficult to get hired in this day and age of the EMR/EHR/HIE. I should add that for the last three years, my position has changed due to shifts within the organization (now larger), and I am not currently engaged in that capacity, though they still refer some questions/problems to me.

    I went through the interview process for one small EHR company, making the third interview, and they were “very excited” and would “get back to me in a week” about the hiring details, benefits, salary, etc. That was last October. I followed up after two weeks later after not hearing anything, and they told me they would get back to me shortly. I followed up again after the two weeks went by and went so far as to politely ask that they notify me if they actually weren’t interested. They insisted they would be back to me within another week. I have not heard another word.

    I am fortunate enough to have a good (non-tech) job, but the information posted here makes me think my hope to get into training and a new career path could be futile at best. There seems to be truth in the idea that companies indeed want entry-level hires with upper-level experience, or they are trying to find that “perfect fit”, rather than taking a square peg and sanding the edges ever-so-slightly to fit it into a round hole.

    Please forgive my naivete; I had no idea that things were this bad in this particular sector of the market. All one hears/reads is that tech is “where the jobs are” and that with education and/or experience, one will be almost guaranteed a job. I am disheartened to know that so many of you with incredble amounts of education and experience are in the same boat as many others, and that the tech market is no different than anywhere else. Reading your comments has been a real eye-opener, and I thank you for that. Good luck to everyone, and here’s to keeping the faith that something turns around soon –

    • As long as each and every one of us waits for the problem to go away, the problem is not going to go away. Grown men do not wait for problems to go away. Adult men respond to problems of this magnitude by thinking, and saying to each other, “We must do something. Does anyone have any ideas about what is causing this? Does anyone have a plan?”

      I have a plan.

      • While it’s great to have a plan I think the point is that the problem seems to be the RECRUITERS. They are the gatekeepers that are keeping the willing and able-minded (myself included) from getting to the actual hiring managers to work “our plans”.

        Unless and until these ‘gatekeepers’ are somehow convinced that they really don’t fully understand the jobs they are trying to staff for, and until the people who are directing these recruiters come to that same understanding there will continue to be the problems in IT staffing being discussed here.

        • Run with this. Discuss among yourselves what the root problem is that is causing the market for technical workers to be so dysfunctional. Try to dig below the surface. Although your idea is a good start, try to explore it in terms of why the recruiters exist and why they are the way that they are. Dig below the surface. You people are paid to be analytical, and that is how you should approach this. Once you find some people who share your opinion about what the fundamental cause is, collaborate with those people to develop a plan of action. This DICE conversation can spawn dozens of independent grass roots actions, informal or formal. WE DO NEED TO DO SOMETHING.

          • “Discuss among yourselves what the root problem is that is causing the market for technical workers to be so dysfunctional.”

            I think I’ve stated multiple times in this discussion thread what the root problem is. Again – it’s THE RECRUITERS AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE DIRECTING THEM.
            I have been trying off and on since 2002 (when I was laid off due to the Telecom industry crash) to break through the barriers these people continue to put up and haven’t found a way yet.
            I have even gone so far to say to these recruiters that I know I can do the job they are trying to fill and do it well, please just give me an interview with the hiring manager. The answer comes back emphatically NO every time.
            It’s almost like they’re Smeegle and the jobs are the ring….

            If you have any ideas I’m sure everyone here would be extremely interested in hearing them.

            You say you have a plan. Care to share it (other than saying “visit my website”)?

          • I have to say “read my website” because discussion of my plan would be off topic here. The only thing that I want to say here is that we need to stop “ME thinking” and start “WE thinking”. That means that we need to stop acting like children who take the way that the world is as a given. The world is not a given. It is whatever we make it to be. That is the perspective of adult men and women. Once you start thinking in terms of “WE need to do something”, you will soon realize that you don’t know what to do. That is where people like me come in. When someone says that he has a plan, make the effort to welcome him into your presence and to find out what his plan is. In my case, that means that you make the effort to STUDY (not just glance at) my web site.

            I am not posting this to promote my web site. I am posting this to promote a change in the way that people think about their world. It is not a given. We can change it. We must change it.

          • Your comment illustrates one of the ways that the mass media keeps us divided and unable to act. I am totally unplugged from the media so am not aware of what is said by people in the media. Be aware of any mode of thinking that tends to cause you to disempower someone (such as me in this case). The fact that I said something that sounded like Obama’s “Yes We Can” campaign is irrelevant. It’s like thirteen year olds giggling at terms used during sex ed class. It’s a distraction.

            I have a plan. It’s your move.