Career Watch

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Nicholas D. Evans

The general manager of the Office of the Chief Technology Officer at Unisys answers questions about dealing with the recession.

I'm beginning to believe that even if we make it through this recession, things are never going to be the same as they were. If we're in for a fundamental shift in how the economy and the companies we work for operate, how can we prepare? One of the advantages of working in the IT field is that technology can be utilized for business benefit regardless of the economic cycle. Companies need to innovate in both up and down cycles, and IT can be a strategic enabler of this innovation.

As organizations try to reduce costs and improve internal efficiencies, they look at how to do more with what they have. Application modernization is a great example. Instead of costly rip-and-replace projects, companies are modernizing their existing applications by moving to service-oriented architectures, Web-enabling their legacy applications, adding Web 2.0 and mobility extensions, and generally improving the experience and productivity of their business end users. In addition, IT is gaining the benefits of reduced risk and cost, greater leverage of existing intellectual property, and shortened implementation time frames when compared to high-risk new application development initiatives. This is just one example of the kinds of IT projects you might want to think about as you adapt to the fundamental shift in the economy.

I'm a new graduate of a well-regarded computer science program at a major university. I feel confident that an interesting career in IT awaits me, but for now I'm unemployed. I'm worried that I'll remain so for a while, until the economy recovers. Any advice on what I should be doing in the meantime? Certainly don't wait for the economy; no one can predict when things will turn around. I'd suggest networking as much as you can through online and offline sources (e.g., university contacts, local and national IT associations, online sources, etc.). Also, think about which industry sectors might be most attractive to you personally, both in terms of the kinds of industries you'd like to work in and the robustness of these industries during the recession. You may opt for more resilient industries such as health care, defense or the public sector, or you may consider the IT services or consulting arenas. Also think about other certifications you might be able to work on in the interim. If you're a new graduate with limited prior work experience, then certifications may give you an additional edge over your peers and be just the door-opener you need.

Question?

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

Health Benefits in Flux?

Employers were asked how the economic downturn might affect their health benefits plans in 2010.

Increase No impact Reduce Eliminate
Plan offerings13%37% 49% 1%
Prevalence of consumer-driven health plans40%55%3%2%
Employer subsidy6%28% 66% 0%
Full-time benefits2% 82% 16% 0%
Incentive programs20%44% 30% 6%
Part-time benefits1%80% 13% 6%
Retiree benefits0%61% 26% 13%
Wellness programs33%41% 24% 2%
                                            
Source: Hewitt Associates Inc. survey of 343 companies with more than 5 million employees, January 2009

Self-promotion Tricks That Just Might Get You a Job!

(Or possibly a restraining order)

  • Advertising on a billboard.
  • Arriving at the interview dressed in a shirt that reads, "Please hire me."
  • Bringing breakfast to the hiring manager every day until hired.
  • Writing a poem in the cover letter about why you want the job.
  • Promising to give the employer a foot massage if hired.
  • Getting your name on the menu at a restaurant that a hiring manager mentioned in his blog.
  • Creating an e-résumé with flash animation and a musical score.

These true stories come from CareerBuilder.com, which reports that 12% of 388 hiring managers and human resources professionals it surveyed said they are seeing more cases of job seekers marketing themselves in unusual ways.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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