is even more
jobs. The region
has an 11. 5
percent unemployment rate,
yet there are
tech job openings at big-name
including Samsung, Google
and scientists are getting their pick of top jobs.
But some seasoned mid-tier IT professionals are
struggling to find work as many once-cutting-edge tech skills are outsourced to less-expensive
The programming language C++ “is now an
international language,” Catherine L. Mann, PhD,
told The New York Times in September. “If that’s
all you know, then you’re competing with people
in India or China who will do the work for less,”
said Dr. Mann, a global finance professor at the
Brandeis University International Business School
who studies the outsourcing of jobs.
“We are talking about people with very par-
ticular, advanced skills out there who are at this
point just not needed anymore,” Bart van Ark,
chief economist at The Conference Board, a busi-
ness and economic research organization, told the
Times. “Even in this sector, there is tremendous
Hiring has stagnated or declined for profes-
sionals in computer systems design, Internet pub-
lishing, data processing and software publishing.
Computer scientists, systems analysts and com-
puter programmers all had unemployment rates of
around 6 percent in the second quarter of this year,
according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor
The talent gap is even more pronounced in
Silicon Valley, the Northern California hub for
high-tech jobs. The region has an 11. 5 percent
unemployment rate, yet there are hundreds of tech
job openings at big-name high-tech firms, including Samsung, Google and Facebook.
Robert Half Technology’s quarterly hiring
index, published in September, shows a similar
imbalance. Despite an overwhelming declaration
of confidence that their companies will continue
to grow, the majority of the 1,400 U.S. CIOs surveyed have no plans to hire new IT staff, according
to the report. Only 9 percent expected to increase
hiring, 6 percent expected to decrease staff, and the
rest planned to stay the course.
The CIOs cited network administration, database management and Microsoft Windows administration as the most in-demand skill sets. The jobs
they cited as most difficult to fill are networking
roles, followed by information security and help
“Many organizations have realized that technology investments can lead to long-term cost savings
and better efficiency, which has resulted in hiring
in a number of IT specialties,” John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology, said in a
FILLING THE STRATEGY GAP
The silver lining for struggling IT professionals
is that project management expertise can give
them an edge on the competition, Ms. Frederickson says.
“Those who can walk the line between stra-
tegic thinking and doing the hands-on work are
in demand,” she says. “And project management
experience is the perfect solution.”
In the wake of all the layoffs and restructuring
that have rocked U.S. corporations, many execu-
tives simply don’t have time to communicate the
organization’s strategic goals down the layers, Ms.
“Project managers can fill this gap,” she says.
“They understand how to work with the executives
on the strategic plan, then translate that plan into
actionable items for project teams.”
Of course, sometimes those translation skills
must work the other way, deciphering nitty-gritty
details into executive speak.
“The ability to explain complex technology
to non-technical people has been and continues
to be the most valuable skill that I learned,”
Scott W.D. Rankin, vice president of technol-
ogy at Corporate Reimbursement Services Inc.,
told CNNMoney.com. “Most of the people
that make the decisions in a corporate environ-
ment are non-technical. If you want to stand a
chance of determining your own fate, you need
to know how to be able to talk to them in their
Ms. Frederickson recommends candidates
showcase project management accomplishments on
résumés and prepare succinct anecdotes that illus-
trate their skills and experiences.
“Even if you have the highly sought-after skills,
it’s still a competitive market,” she says.
A targeted marketing mix can make the difference. “You have to think about the issues CEOs
and CIOs are facing now and be able to speak to
those needs.” —Sarah Fister Gale