Finding the Right IT Job for You

June 13th, 2012

If you are graduating from a technical university, or you are a seasoned Information Technology professional, there are several ways to find the right IT job for you. Today’s IT market has exploded and is one of the leading industries to find great career opportunities. This comes as no surprise as many software and web companies have grown at unbelievable rates while the rest of the economy lags behind. However, finding the right IT job for your skills will take careful research.

Here are a few facts on the IT world you should know about first.

What is the IT Career Outlook?

The US Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are over 307,000 IT professionals working in just America alone, with a projected 18 percent growth expected in the coming year, and an estimated 55,800 new IT jobs to be created in the next 10 years. Average salaries run in the six figures for mid to top tier IT specialists.

Where are the IT Jobs?

A Best Cities for Finding IT Jobs in 2012 report appeared on NetworkWorld that gives a sneak peek into the regions where job seekers should be able to find more chances at employment. Washington DC., San Francisco, and Houston are the top 3 cities where IT jobs are plentiful, followed by Minneapolis, Seattle, Boston, NYC and Detroit. The best opportunities are within regions where large software and website technology firms are present, along with financial and engineering firms – so be sure to start your search there.

How to Find the Right IT Job

To start your search for the right IT job, you must first evaluate your own skills and credentials in this industry as it changes continually. Consider if you need to obtain or update any product certifications.  Get some advanced software classes under your belt so you can rise above the competition and go after better paying opportunities. Apply to companies that fall within your scope of interest and skill.

Start out as an IT contractor, which is the preferred way that many technology firms are conducting their hiring in the current time frame. Companies are thriving, but they are expanding carefully to avoid layoffs if the market turns south again. Contract assignments often open the door to perm placement, as well as a way to get on board with exciting new projects.

Consider freelance IT work until you land a full time gig. This can help you to develop your skills even further in IT, work with partners and obtain references for the kind of work you do. Once you land a great full time IT job, you can then continue to build on your freelance experience as a backup to your career, and possibly help your new employer bring in new business too.

For support with finding the right IT job, take the time to register with Stark Talent IT staffing.


US Tech Industry Can Thank Venture Capitalists

June 7th, 2012

While the US economy is still struggling to climb back up, it appears that the Information Technology sector is already had a head start thanks to the support of venture capitalists. A PricewaterhouseCoopers/Moneytree survey indicates that over $2 billion have been raised by venture capital firms that are anxious to jump start the rebirth of the American economy, in the final quarter of 2011, with more expected this year.

The IT industry is adding jobs at an amazing rate of 18 percent, with some 56,000 new jobs expected to be created from 2010 to 2020. The median salaries for IT professionals range from $46,000 for customer service reps to $100,600 for upper level Computer and Information Specialists. (Source: US Dept of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook)  That means some serious cash is needed for expansion of IT companies and the development of new software products.

What’s driving all this private investment? First is the demand for new and better technology. The world is in a “technological renaissance”, due to the growing Generation Y group who are graduating from top colleges and looking for opportunities to start their own companies. This entrepreneurial spirit is fueling the need for financial support from smart capital investors.

Some say that this investment activity is what has been keeping the US economy afloat during the long recession period. It’s likely that investors are looking towards the future, therefore they are willing to find less riskier projects in science and technology, which have been the backbone of growth in this nation for many years.


The Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing

May 27th, 2012

Cloud computing is a new buzzword in the world of information technology that has large and small businesses alike feeling a little – cloudy – on the whole issue. The long and short of cloud computing is that it’s a method of moving certain business functions from large on-site services to virtual servers safe and secure somewhere on the World Wide Web. It uses Internet-based services for support of the business processes. While there are plenty of reasons to consider this a major bonus for many businesses, it’s important to take a look at the big picture before making a decision about what cloud computing may or may not mean for your business.

The Pros of Cloud Computing

1)   Huge cost benefits. You know those huge, old IT servers that companies were required to scrimp and save to buy once upon a time? With cloud computing, you can kiss them goodbye (along with their hefty price tags). Businesses can also slim down their on-hand IT staff, which will reduce business expenses significantly over the course of a year – even more so over the course of several years.

2)   Easier collaboration with other computers. No matter where your employees may be scattered, the fact that all the information is stored in virtual space makes it easy to collaborate on large projects at all hours of the day and all locations throughout the world.

3)   Additional backup to protect from disaster. Disasters happen all the time. Some of them expected. Others, not so much. It wasn’t that long ago that a business could be in serious peril if their IT equipment and/or servers were taken offline due to flooding, fire, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. That is no longer the case. With cloud computing, the information is stored offsite so there is a virtual backup of all your information available any time it’s needed.

The Cons of Cloud Computing

Of course, for every silver lining there’s a perfectly grey and drab storm cloud to steer through. You definitely need to decide how you feel about these things before you decide that cloud computing is the right move for your business to make.

1)   Privacy. This is a huge issue that’s becoming bigger by the day. Trust is hard to come by in the virtual world – with good reason. Even in a business relationship, you’re placing a lot of trust, and more importantly, information, on these cloud companies. How much of that information are they gathering and what are they doing with the information they have? We live in the information age after all, and information is one hot commodity. Be careful who you trust with yours.

2)   Reliability. This is another major issue. How reliable is one cloud company over the next? There are a lot of variables, but you can’t afford for the “cloud” to be inaccessible at critical times for your business. How much does the company guarantee to be fully functioning and operational, and what lengths do they go to in order to ensure it happens?

There are a few pretty powerful pros and cons to contend with here. Don’t rush into a decision you might regret later concerning cloud computing and what it has to offer your business.

For more information about Cloud Computing, be sure to review our earlier post:

Cloud Computing: Top IT Investment in 2012


How the iPad is Changing Learning and IT

May 20th, 2012

The winds of change are carrying the overwhelming scent of apples in the IT industry these days. The latest evolution of Apple’s popular iPad series is largely to blame for this fruity fragrance, as is the ever-increasing demand for the newest iPad device among the general population. But what does this mean for learning—especially as it concerns the IT industry?

The fact is that the industry is changing. One phrase that’s being thrown around rather liberally is “consumerization of IT.” It’s become a bit of a force of nature that’s left software and app developers scrambling to catch up to new hardware as it was hitting the marketplace, rather than having a steady supply of apps, games, and software ready to fly off the shelves along with the latest devices.

Apple’s famous iPad is leading the way and the IT industry has learned that this really is a good thing for the sake of business. It means there is a steady stream of new technology coming out, and they are going to need the sharpest, brightest minds in the business to keep up with the latest concepts Apple comes up with. Savvy IT industry leaders have grabbed this opportunity for growth, expansion, and long-term relevance by the horns, rather than seeing it as a challenge to work around.

They’ve figured out that this new trend in the field of information and technology represents one thing for them, their businesses, and their employees:  financial security. While Apple’s iPad is pushing the boundaries in an unprecedented fashion, the idea of consumerization in the IT field really isn’t anything new. In fact, many industry leaders feel that this concept has been around for at least 20 years.

Perhaps the greatest side effect of this consumerization of IT is that it is leading to better educated users of technology. People are taking an interest in how their devices work, how to better care for them, and even how to make them work better to meet their specific needs. Whether it’s in an educational setting for schools or in big corporations as an attempt to have greater efficiency in upper management, there are countless ways that IT technology can be molded to meet specific needs of individuals.

Consumers are not only beginning to figure out precisely what they want their technology to do for them, they’re also asking for it. That takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process for IT management and those who make the apps that drive these devices. The IT industry is one that remains fraught with risks and benefits. It’s the role of management to weigh the potential risks against the potential benefits to determine which new technology or developments promise the greatest rewards with the fewest risks. It’s a new way of doing business in this industry, but one that promises to pay off well for those who choose wisely.

To learn more about technology’s role in learning, you will want to review our previous post on:

e-Learning the Future of Skilled Labor Training

Spring 2012 Tech Salary Survey Results

April 26th, 2012

For those in IT, now is the time to ask for a raise. That is, unless you just received one. According to a report from the Dice Tech Salary Survey, those in the technology profession have seen the largest increase in their pay in 2012 since 2008. For many, that’s good news because it means that the economy is growing – and paychecks are reflecting the increased demand in this industry.

Average Wage Increased

According to the survey, after two years in which wages in the IT field seemed to stagnate, there’s been a nice two percent increase for professionals, on average, in 2011. The average salary for an IT professional in the United States in 2010 was $79,384. This year, average rates are now up to $81,327.

Bonuses Are Paying Out

Many individuals in this industry are given bonuses for a job well done. That proved to be the case in 2012 as well. The average size of IT bonuses grew by a whopping eight percent. On average, individuals received as much as $8,769. The survey notes that the number of people getting bonuses also increased. Check out these numbers:

  • In 2009, the number of IT professionals receiving a bonus was 24 percent.
  • In 2010, that number was 29 percent.
  • In 2011, the number grew to 32 percent.

Where were you most likely to see a bonus if you worked in this field? Those in the telecom, hardware, banking, utilities and software industries were most likely to see a boost to their paycheck as a result of a bonus.

It’s Not Just in Silicon Valley Either

Though Silicon Valley is still the highest paid market for well-trained professionals in IT, it’s not the only place seeing these improvements. There are wage increases and higher bonuses being paid out to more people across the country. This includes areas like Austin, Washington DC, Seattle and Dallas. That means the entire industry is growing.

What It All Means

Why are wages going up and more individuals receiving larger bonuses? There are numerous reasons this is happening and it is all good news for those in this industry.

  • In many areas, economic conditions are improving and that’s driving more employers back to growing their businesses.
  • In some areas, however, it is the sheer lack of growth that is pushing the IT world. Instead of hiring numerous people to do a job, many employers are looking for IT solutions to cut into the cost of hiring more. That’s making IT pros in demand.
  • Employers are more willing than ever to hold onto good talent. They know it is hard to find qualified professionals, and they are willing to spend the money to keep them.

For those IT professionals looking for wage increases, use these numbers as a tool to help show just how in demand your services are. With higher bonuses, employees can now start thinking about asking the boss for bigger paychecks.

Foreigners Create IT Jobs

March 30th, 2012

Research indicates that foreign companies employ hundreds of thousands of Americans. If that’s the case, why do people want to seal our borders from foreigners? Some mistakenly believe that the way to boost the economy is to seal off the country’s borders and by doing so, those who are here will be the only ones competing for the jobs in the country. The problem is, immigrants to the United States have created thousands of jobs and are in fact responsible for helping to rebuild the country.

IT Businesses Stay Out?

Some in the IT industry feel they are being pushed out of their IT jobs as companies outsource the positions to foreign nationals. Some even go as far as to say that companies should only hire Americans and that all foreign nationals should be sent home. Some also say that the special type of work visa known as the H-1B visa be immediately stopped. By doing so, it would block companies from hiring foreigners to do the jobs Americans should be doing. The problem with this logic is that sealing our borders like this would likely create fewer jobs in the IT industry than many realize.
Would Unemployment Be Fixed?

The thought that taking these steps would eliminate the 9 percent unemployment the country is suffering with, other experts warn that a move like this could have lasting consequences. One of the biggest factors is the evidence that indicates that by encouraging highly educated IT professionals to come into the US or to encourage those graduating with technical degrees in the US to stay here; you will actually boost growth and employment in the country. Those who are in these fields are more likely than average professionals to start and build successful businesses.

According to a study from Duke University, one quarter of US science and tech companies founded from 1995 to 2005 were lead by foreign-born individuals. Those companies generated $52 billion in revenue and employed 450,000 people in 2005. In addition to this, if you look a Silicon Valley specifically, 52 percent of all startups are begun by foreign-born individuals. Companies like eBay, Intel, Oracle and even Google were all founded by immigrants. There’s more data to back this up, too. 25.6 percent of patent applications filed in 2006 listed foreign nationals as the inventors.

Another report this time from the Partnership for a New American Economy indicates that immigrants or their children founded more than 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies listed in 2011.

It is important to note the numerous abuses of some types of work visas. Yes, foreign nationals are taking the jobs of Americans who could do the work in some situations. However, by and large, the number of jobs foreign nationals and immigrants create in the United States is far more. Therefore, sealing the borders could actually do more harm than good.

Cloud Computing: Top IT Investment in 2012

March 23rd, 2012

Cloud computing is the key phrase for 2012 in the world of IT. This method of management allows everything to be done in the “cloud.” The cloud itself is simply in the Internet’s big open space. Imagine a cloud in the sky. It is in the huge open space of the sky, but this cloud designates a part of that space to just one company’s access. However, anyone, from any location, with the information to do so, can access the cloud for all types of business communications. This increases productivity and has become the way of the future in IT.

Why Cloud Computing Is So Important

Cloud computing is one of the largest investments companies will make in the IT world this year and next. They are doing so because of all it has to offer to them.

  • Computing strength increases numerous times over the standard practices. Companies are able to store some or all of their programs, data and other useful information in a remote server. This allows the server to run continuous backups. It is also possible to access that data from any location, driving up productivity from any location.
  • With cloud computing, companies will see a reduction in the cost of IT within their business. Most businesses do not want to hire a full time IT person if they do not need to. With this system, even small businesses can implement it without having to worry about high costs to manage the system. You can take back some of that office space, give your personnel more work on the goal and even reduce overall costs related to full time employees.
  • It is completely flexible. Unlike older systems, cloud computing allows the company to use new software without actually investing in the more expensive hardware to get it in place. You can even invest in a pay-as-you-go product, which means you can take advantage of new technologies when they happen. Your architect can manage changes to a blueprint in moments without having to spend hours uploading or downloading, sending and faxing plans back and forth.

IT personnel will find that this is where the job growth in the IT field is likely to happen in 2012 and beyond. The fact is, businesses need to be able to use this service and since it is so easy to put into place, without a lot of overhead to do so, the IT world is likely to change significantly as a result. Those who are looking for jobs in this area should focus primarily on cloud computing companies and those companies that offer back up to them. This is where the jobs are likely to be because of the demand in the industry.

The Patriot Act: Its Effect on U.S. Tech Industry

February 15th, 2012

Could the Patriot Act slow down the tech industry in the United States? The Patriot Act provided a new opportunity for the military to protect the country after the September 11th attacks. However, now it has some foreign companies not willing to get into business with American companies. The problem is not the companies themselves but the technology they are using. That technology has an incredible impact on the way people do business in the US right now. Cloud computing is very useful but for foreign businesses, it seems like a risk.

What’s the Problem?

The problem with cloud computing is that it allows data to be stored in a “cloud” on the Internet. Anyone with the proper pass codes can access the information in the cloud and use it from virtually any location where there is an Internet connection. The problem is, though, foreign companies are leery about putting their private information on American company’s cloud systems. Could this provide an opportunity for the government to spy on their actions? Foreign competitors want companies to avoid working with American communities as a result.

Actions Under Way

The good news is that something is being done to minimize this worry and to encourage foreign companies that the government has no need or interest in tapping into private, foreign company’s information. The Obama Administration is taking steps to encourage a full understanding of the Patriot Act as well as what it means to business. The White House is working on solutions as this has a potentially big negative impact on many US businesses, especially since other companies are using and already benefiting from cloud systems overseas.

The Patriot Act has worried business owners in Europe, Asia and throughout the world. The worry is that, under this law, foreign companies may be required to provide information at any time upon request by the federal government in the US.

The threat is real. In the Netherlands, for example, authorities seemed to consider the idea of blocking any US based cloud firms from actually bidding on and receiving contract bids from government programs. It was never put into place, but the fear is that other countries will put this type of limitation in place.

The true benefit of cloud management is having free information travel between sources. With some countries now requesting businesses cut into this and to keep communications within the country’s borders there is a risk to American companies in this firm. In a report on cloud computing that came out in 2011, 71 experts from companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Salesforce have come forward to put pressure on Washington to take control over the situation. It could mean a large problem for companies who want and need to expand their services overseas.

Looking Back at 2011 and Looking Ahead for the IT/Tech Industry in 2012

December 31st, 2011

Last year, was an incredible adventure for the IT/Tech industry. We saw the introduction of many new forms of technology to mainstream consumers, from cloud computing to tablets. With 2012 just barely in it’s first few weeks, experts are predicting that 2012 will continue to see an explosion of technology that will continue to focus on average consumers and small business. Let’s take a look at 2011, and make a few predictions of our own.

2011 was the year of Social Media. Giants on the scene included Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Zynga and many others who have become an international obsession for billions of attention starved, self-promoting consumers and businesses alike. Although Facebook has taken some criticism from users who are tired of the constant changes, possible privacy issues, and issues with the new timeline format, it is predicted to increase membership over the coming year to hit a new record. Look for continued integration with multiple applications that use your Facebook log into to access.

Last year, the mobile technology market also boomed with some 5.3 billion mobile subscribers worldwide, that’s 77 percent of the world population, according to a recent survey from MobiThinking as of November 2011. This number is led by China and India, two areas that have typically produced the cheapest mobile devices, including the $35 Akash tablet, which made its way on the scene late in 2011. The International CES 2012 revealed even more mobile awesomeness, which included Toshiba’s “world’s thinnest notebook” and Samsung’s 5” Galaxy Smartphone.

Just like in 2011, consumer gadgets rule the landscape with Vizux Smart Glasses , LG’s 84” HGTV, and Nikon’s impressive D4 DSLR 16.2 MP camera, which has them running for the nearest electronics retailers. According to a recent article in Forbes, consumer electronics purchases increased by 10%, and that’s in the midst of an economic recession faced by the world. “For 2011, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) sees 15% growth in North America, 23% growth in Western Europe, 15% in China, 12% in Asia, 5% in Eastern Europe, 4% in the Middle East, 10% in South America and 7% in Africa.” (Source: Forbes) . Estmated sales are expected to top $1 Trillion in 2012.

What does this mean in terms of careers in It and Technology in 2012? You can expect to see a massive demand for new jobs at all levels in the New Year, from product development to sales. To get on board now with a great IT career, consider signing on with a top IT and Technology recruiting firm like Stark Talent today!

Hiring US Citizens vs. Foreign Tech Workers for IT Jobs: Which is Better for You and Your Company…are Your Preferences Legal?

November 22nd, 2011

As the technology world continues to burst with new opportunities, creating millions of career opportunities in the coming years, technology based companies everywhere are scrambling for suitable IT candidates. While the preference of hiring US citizens or foreign tech workers is based on many factors, it is now a matter of legal debate due to an H1-B employment bill in the Senate currently that may seriously change the way companies must approach recruitment and hiring of IT staff. This bill has now been signed into law by President Obama under the Financial Stability Plan.

In fact, several prominent IT firms have come under fire based on allegations that they misrepresent the number of available US candidates in favor of hiring foreign workers – a practice that has long gone on under the radar because foreign workers traditionally don’t command the wages that US Information Technology specialists do. From small development companies to large powerhouses in IT, the use of foreign workers is the preference of many in an effort to keep project costs down and increase profitability.

However, this entire practice can backfire as companies may be inadvertently not offering enough assignments to US workers, who still number in the many thousands. With close to 10% of the US adult workforce currently unemployed, the pressure is on for IT companies to show preference to native candidates, then foreign workers. The H1-B Senate bill makes it illegal to hire more than half your workforce as foreigners if you have more than 50 employees.

Additionally, as an employer you are required to advertise job openings for 30 days on the Department of Labor’s web site before making H-1B visa applications, giving American workers ample time to apply and be considered first. Jobs cannot be advertised strictly for foreign workers – there must be complete equality for all candidates regardless of nationality under EEOC guidelines.

How does your company stack up and do you follow the “rules” when it comes to offering IT assignments in a non-discriminatory way? If you are unsure, then it’s generally a good idea to seek legal counsel from a trusted employment attorney to review your current hiring practices in terms of this new law. Alternatively,  you can stay out of “hot water” by contracting with a quality IT staffing agency like Stark Talent that maintains all the laws as they pertain to hiring technology workers. This can give you peace of mind that you are a fair and legal employer.