Job Hunting 101

There’s good news and bad news for those who have a new job on their hit list of resolutions for 2003.

First, the good news: Despite a relatively flat outlook overall in the Canadian IT job market, IDC Canada says demand for specific job functions will increase in 2003, especially in the second

half of the year. Leading the pack are project managers. Ontario will be doing the majority of the hiring in this area, which is not unusual since almost three quarters of the IT work force is concentrated in Ontario and Québec (51 per cent in Ontario and 23 per cent in Québec).

Beyond project management, the “”focus will be on business analysis and security,”” says Julie Kaufman, IDC’s training and career analyst. “”The security model is becoming more complex and people need to understand it before they can attack it.””

Other job titles in demand according to IDC include IS business analyst, database administrator, data administrator and software engineer.

Kaufman says she expects to see modest growth in Canada’s IT workforce this year, with a more bona fide recovery taking place in 2004.

“”I believe we’ll see increases in hiring; we’re seeing increased spending in technology and that usually results in additional hires,”” says Kaufman. In the downturn many companies reduced their technology divisions, she adds, “”and some of those will have to be refilled.””

Kaufman says investments in human resources typically follows a pattern: When companies make technology purchases, they hire the appropriate skill sets to complement those investments. In the past couple of years, technology buys have been made only on an “”as needed”” basis. That means hiring has also decreased, but IDC expects to see some changes this year.

“”We’re still not seeing significant growth in technology investments and don’t expect the economy to rebound until the second or third quarter of this year,”” she says.

Five industry sectors account for 85 per cent of all IT jobs, so job seekers should consider searching in the following areas: professional, scientific and technical services; manufacturing; information and culture; finance and insurance; and, public administration.

According to Robert Half Technology, a Toronto-based IT placement company, the professional services industry offers help-desk/end-user support professionals the best job prospects. Almost 40 per cent of executives surveyed identified these areas as their fastest growing specialties.

In its semi-annual Hot Jobs report released in October of last year, the firm indicated it expects to see increased demand for help-desk jobs, as well as those in the areas of networking, application development and Internet/intranet development.

“”In the manufacturing sector, the demand for networking staff is particularly strong,”” the report states. “”IT managers in the construction sector also reported significant need for data/database management specialists.”” Almost 30 per cent of CIOS surveyed ranked this as the fastest growing job category at their firms.

Beyond specific job titles, employers will be looking for IT workers who have experience and expertise in the following areas: SQL server; Microsoft Exchange; XML; Oracle database; and, Java server pages.

Now for the bad news: Most of these jobs will be available only to those with a Y chromosome, according to statistics from Software Human Resource Council and Human Resources Development Canada, which reveal that more than 75 per cent of current IT jobs are held by men.

If you are one of those unlucky ones displaced by downsizing, the news gets worse, especially if you’ve already celebrated your 35th birthday. Information technology is currently an occupation for the young, with almost half of all positions held by workers under the age of 35.

In May of last year, the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) released a report that predicted chapter two of the skills shortage in the months ahead. ITAC president Gaylen Duncan said the survey also revealed IT workers, more than most, are resilient to changes in the industry.

“”We learned a lot about IT workers though this study,”” Duncan said when the report was released. “”IT workers are clearly change-adept and fiercely determined to refresh their knowledge and keep their skills marketable.””

There are currently 420,000 IT workers in Canada, down 20,000 from 2001, according to a report from the Software Human Resource Council.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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