Career Watch

This installment of "Career Watch" appeared in Computerworld's print edition

Ask a Premier 100 Leader: Dale Christian

The CIO at Avanade Inc. in Seattle answers questions about communicating with the boss and making the most of a degree in infosec.

The division of the IT department I work in lost a few employees due to attrition last year, and rather than replace those people, management has distributed the workload to me and others. I'm now working 60-plus hours a week, including occasional weekends, and I'm getting burnt out. Do you have any suggestions on how I can approach my supervisor about this? Approach the situation from your supervisor's point of view. She probably doesn't want her team working 60-hour weeks and realizes that it's not a healthy or viable situation. However, she's likely under pressure from management to keep costs down and doesn't have a strong case to justify hiring more people.

So, make a case for her. First, document the problem objectively: Write down the tasks you are expected to perform and how long it takes to do each one -- each day, week, month or quarter.

Next, use that list as a basis for discussion: Are there tasks that you can drop, service levels that can be relaxed or efficiencies you can find? You might be able to slim your job down just by focusing on the essentials. Or you might convince her that more people are needed on your team.

In that case, give your supervisor the facts to take the case to her manager. Help her develop a similar list for the rest of your workgroup, laying out what services the team delivers to the company and what resources -- people, hardware, software, etc. -- are needed to meet those expectations. Then management can decide whether it's worth hiring more people or reducing the services your group provides.

I have a fresh bachelor's degree in information security, a certification in computer networking, eight years in PC troubleshooting maintenance and repair, two years in Internet help desk, and two in PDA and BlackBerry support. I am finding it difficult to break into the IT field full time. Most hiring firms want me for the help desk only. What would you suggest? Call me! Seriously, security skills are valuable. The challenge is that security roles tend to demand deep experience, so you should look for entry-level positions in operations (also called Tier 2 support, production management, systems administration or infrastructure engineering) that will give you hands-on experience in the production infrastructure.

Supporting servers, networks and applications will put you in a good position to grow directly in that area. It will also give you opportunities to practice and deepen your experience and move into a security role when the time is right.

Good luck!

Got a 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.

77% vs. 82%

  • That's the percentage of female middle managers who aspire to be promoted to a senior management position compared with the number of male middle managers with a similar goal.

    Moreover, only 22% of women aspire to C-level positions, compared with 31% of men. The most common response from women to the question of what level they would like to achieve was "director" (23%).

Source: Web-based survey of over 200 female and 200 male middle managers, conducted by Hudson, January 2008

Employment Outlook

2006

employment

Projected change,

2006-16
Numeric Percentage
Computer programmers:
435,000 -18,000 -4%
Computer scientists and database administrators:
542,000 200,000 37%
Computer software engineers:
857,000 324,000 38%
Computer support specialists and systems administrators:
862,000 155,000 18%
Computer system analysts:
504,000 146,000 29%

Zooming In: Breaking down the BLS's numbers

This page has touted the estimate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that "computer and mathematical occupations" will see 16% growth in employment between 2006 and 2016. The spring issue of the Occupational Outlook Quarterly breaks that down into some specific job categories. The breakdown shows that the overall average could have been higher, but it was held down primarily by non-computer-related classifications, such as "statistician." But it wasn't all good news for computer-related jobs. The ranks of programmers are expected to drop by 18,000 during the decade. According to the BLS, "Advancements in the software development process, the offshoring of jobs and other workers' ability to do some programming" will contribute to that decline.

Page compiled by Jamie Eckle.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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