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Career Watch: Downwardly mobile

June 1, 2009 12:01 AM ET

Computerworld -

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Joseph L. DeVenuto

The CIO at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Ky., answers questions on taking a lower-level position and what skills you need during a slump.

I have a lot of experience in networking, but I've been out of work since the beginning of 2008. I seem to be joined by more people all the time, so there's a lot of competition for jobs. I've got nearly 15 years of solid experience and great references, but I'm thinking about trying for some lower-level jobs that I've ignored so far, like help desk work. Two questions: Do you think I would be seriously considered, or will my résumé be tossed aside because I'm overqualified? And if I have success and land an entry-level job at this stage of my career, am I washed up? The current economic environment is causing many leaders to re-evaluate the way things have always been done. You are correct that in the past your résumé may have been passed over. That's not because you would have been seen as overqualified but because of the perception that you would expect a higher salary than what is usually budgeted for an entry-level position. While salary expectations must be dealt with, organizations today are more willing to look in unexpected places to add skills and talents that were unavailable months ago. We have a more dynamic employment environment, which is creating a larger candidate pool filled with many professionals whose availability is not necessarily a direct result of their performance. Because of this, many people will need to move laterally or backward. At the end of the day, however, good workers (at any level) are good workers, and most organizations will recognize that and will work to put you in the "right seat on the bus" over time.

With the world economy in the biggest slump I've ever experienced, I'm wondering what sorts of skills are going to prove most valuable to companies in the near future. The skills that are the most valuable to an organization don't change during a slump. They are simply getting more attention in today's environment. Being able to contribute to the success of an organization through your actions and activities will always be valued.

The specifics of your particular organization and its approach to the current environment will determine whether you add more value by contributing growth strategies, cost-saving measures, or general process improvements or efficiencies. In all cases, being able to execute on the strategies is also critical. When you are able to align technology with business processes and improve them, not just automate them, you are bringing value. Coming up with ideas is good; actually delivering on them is great.


If you have a question for one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to, and watch for this column each month.

Disappearing Jobs

Forrester Research expects the total number of U.S. IT jobs to fall by 1.2% this year compared with 2008. The decline in employment will be even steeper within IT vendors.

Number of Jobs

  2005 2006 2007 2008* 2009*
IT occupations in IT departments in business and government 2,573,867 2,639,676 2,712,838 2,774,097 2,754,080
IT occupations in IT vendors' product development units 766,028 802,914 850,953 882,249 857,753
Total IT occupations 3,339,895 3,442,590 3,563,790 3,656,346 3,611,833
Source: Forrester Research Inc. report "Don't Panic! The IT Jobs Picture Isn't As Bad As You Think," by Simon Yates, March 2009. Projections based in part on the "National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates" from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
© 2009, Forrester Research Inc.

Page compiled by Jamie Eckle.

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