Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Information Technology professional profiles really can't afford to be too narrow, even if the jobs are: will TARP change things?

Over the holiday weekend, I had a yard conversation with someone in information systems management in a large financial company, and he agreed that the Internet – and the idea of “reputation” or profile along with online networking – has confounded the way the job market works.

Nobody wants to be known “just” as a mainframe person with a specific arcane old skill, so it is almost impossible to find anyone with the specialized knowledge necessary to keep an old mainframe system running. So the deterioration of the mainframe job market became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And all the job counselors are warning people about integrated online presence – have what you are good at, and only what you are good at—able to make money with. But that doesn’t make real sense when the hot skills can turn so quickly. It’s necessary to be good at a lot of interrelated things.

The other problem is that the hot skills are often used to offer services or products that turn out to be socially objectionable. One has to think very carefully about career planning strategy today. But young people, despite the doom and gloom about the job market for recent college graduates, will have a real edge in being able to plan their educations on what employers will need. There will be a lot of specialized areas for which steady demand will grow: security, capacity planning, network architecture, operating systems, artificial intelligence, distributed databases. But the old fashioned mainframe culture seems to be floating out to sea, except in specialized areas, like MMIS. What I wonder is if the TARP programs and need for much more regulation in the financial markets, with some good old-fashioned mainframe discipline (like in doing valuations, which Vantage is so well known for) will bring a lot of it back.

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