The Best Jobs

E-commerce continues to dominate new IT hiring; meanwhile, demand for contractors is dropping fast.

Pick an IT job - any IT job - and no matter what the actual title is, chances are very good it's woven into the Web in one way or another. According to leading information technology recruiters, all the hot jobs they expect to fill this quarter are being driven by electronic business and its demands, including the usual suspects like Web applications development and less-obvious ones like Unix network administration.

"Web and e-commerce projects are pivotal to generating revenues and reducing costs, so everyone wants to get theirs done faster and better," says Alan Fiermonte, vice president of business development at ReviewNet Corp., a recruiting firm in Philadelphia.

That demand and need for speed makes this a candidate's job market, with fierce competition for applicants skilled in any of today's hot technologies, from Java to Unix to Oracle, as well as those technologies that are just starting to simmer, such as e-commerce development platforms like San Diego-based Miva Corp.'s Miva Empresa.

Most job openings are new ones that have been created by the electronic-business surge, though losing talent to competitors does open some positions. That's just one of the realities that companies recruiting IT talent must face, say recruiters.

The fact is, many IT professionals want to work with hot technologies. If old-line companies can't offer leading-edge projects, dot-coms may lure away talent with their promises of fortunes driven by initial public offerings. Many recruiters in hot markets like New York and the West Coast say they've seen can-didates walk away from high five-figure salaries plus benefits in favor of two-thirds as much money and a fistful of stock options.

Additionally, many employers lose good talent because it takes them too long to make an offer, say recruiters. "There's no time for two or three interviews," says Judy Karpel, a partner at New York-based IT recruiting firm Hayward Simone Associates Inc. "Good people get lots of interviews and are off the market very quickly."

Though IT professionals do seem to be sitting in the catbird seat, recruiters caution them on several fronts. First, employers want people with proven skills, so experience does count. Next, recruiters say, IT professionals need to stay current with new Web technologies, which seem to emerge every month. "Make sure you're learning the skills that will be hot six months from now," says Ilya Talman, president of Roy Talman & Associates, a Chicago-based IT recruitment firm.

Such skills may include the XML content-tagging language, as well as Java, Extensible Table Markup Language, Miva Empresa and Personal Home Page, a server-side scripting language.

Also, because electronic business requires IT staff to work closely with customers inside and outside a company, communication skills are more critical than ever, say recruiters. "Even hard-core developers are being exposed to customers today," Karpel says.

So for IT people with the right skills and experience, the following positions are the ones IT recruiters say will be hot this quarter:

E-Commerce Project Manager

Responsibilities: Develop and lead e-commerce strategy; act as a liaison among senior management, IT project teams and internal and external clients. Also generate ideas for Web content and tools, define business requirements and lead technical teams to implement strategy.

Salary: $105,000 to $110,000

Qualifications:

An extensive IT background, with an emphasis on e-commerce consulting and/or experience with application development.

Project leadership skills.

Demonstrated experience in the employer's specific industry.

Advice to hiring managers: Ask e-commerce gurus for evidence of their successes elsewhere, recommends Bob Otis, vice president of advanced technologies at Atlantic Research Technologies, a Stamford, Conn.-based search firm.

Advice to candidates: "Before taking the job, make certain you understand the employer's e-commerce vision," says Otis, noting that not all firms have the will to transform themselves into electronic businesses.

Web/E-Commerce Applications Developer

Responsibilities: Create intranet- and Internet-based applications, with increasing emphasis on e-commerce applications. Also integrate new applications with existing internal applications such as enterprise resource programs, databases and data warehouses.

Salary: Varies with responsibilities, experience and skills, from $65,000 to $130,000

Qualifications:

Experience in one or more of the following: Active Server Pages, ColdFusion, InterDev, Java, JavaScript, XML, Visual Basic, VBScript, Common Object Request Broker Architecture, Component Object Model/Distributed Component Object Model, C++ and Perl.

Experience with e-commerce tools such as One-To-One, PureEcommerce, Blue Martini, Site Server, Vignette and Webridge.

Previous high-traffic e-commerce Web site design and construction.

Knowledge of Windows and Unix, as well as distributed computing environments.

Knowledge of relational databases such as Oracle, SQL and Informix.

Advice to hiring managers: Don't get hung up on experience. "Some people with less experience have more talent than veterans," says Danny McKinny, a vice president at J. D. Resources Inc. in Memphis.

Advice to candidates: Know the difference between "exposure to" and "experience with" programming tools, says Alesha Duggins, a vice president at Diamond Star Technologies Inc., an IT recruiting firm in Orange County, Calif. "Until you show you've used it in a real-world corporate environment, it's not experience."

Senior Unix Network Administrator

Responsibilities: Administration, planning, design, coordination and control of Unix environments.

Salary: $75,000 to $110,000

Qualifications:

Five or more years' experience in large enterprise Unix environments, especially Sun Solaris and HP-UX.

Strong scripting skills.

Knowledge of Oracle and other relational databases.

TCP/IP knowledge and experience with e-commerce platforms like BroadVision.

Good management and communication skills.

Experience with security a plus.

Advice to hiring managers: "There's a high demand, but they're difficult to locate because they prefer to work on a contract basis," says Sarah Mino, director of eSearch at LeadersOnline Inc. in Irvine, Calif.

Advice to candidates: Unix administrators with strong security backgrounds can increase their salary demands, recruiters say.

Senior Database Administrator

Responsibilities: Design and develop the logical and physical layers of various databases; manage database distribution, security and access requirements; oversee performance monitoring and tuning; manage upgrades, maintenance and user support; handle testing, reporting, backup and restore.

Salary: $75,000 to $130,000

Qualifications:

Oracle experience is very hot, but SQL, Sybase and Informix administrators also are in demand.

Experience with Active Server Pages, Common Gateway Interface, Visual InterDev, Java and object-oriented programming.

Experience with Windows NT and Unix.

Advice to hiring managers: "There's no talent available on the Oracle database side," warns Morris Green, a partner at Hayward Simone Associates. He and other recruiters say Oracle database administrators and most other types of database administrators can command hefty salaries - and dot-coms want them, too, and are dangling stock options to get them.

Advice to candidates: Recruiters say adding e-commerce skills to your portfolio will take you to the high end of the salary bracket.

Data Warehouse Architects/Developers

Responsibilities: Design and development of data warehouses, including evaluation and specification of networking, hardware, software, applications, middleware and extract, transfer and load tools.

Salary: $100,000 to $150,000

Qualifications:

Online Analytical Processing and Relational Online Analytical Processing experience.

Experience with Open Database Connectivity tools, as well as with data mining and modeling tools.

Experience with SQL, Oracle, DB2 and other relational databases.

Advice to hiring managers: Competition is very tight in this area, and salaries scale accordingly.

Advice to candidates: Companies seem to be settling into their database platforms, so skills in one product might not be seen as easily transferable to another, says Fiermonte.

Sales Engineer

Responsibilities: Provide technical expertise in layman's terms during the sales process; supply hands-on technical skills during the implementation process; serve as a liaison between the customer and technical staff.

Salary: $75,000 to $140,000 base

Qualifications:

Technical skills vary, ranging from networking expertise to programming languages.

Strong communication skills, especially in delivering presentations.

Advice to hiring managers: It's tough to find this combination of skills in one candidate; at least one client has split the job into two, says Joe Hauser, president of Montvale, N.J.-based IT recruiting firm Search EDP Inc.

Advice to candidates: "You've got to be technical but also business-savvy," says Karpel.

Watson is a freelance writer in Chicago.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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