Get a job! The developer’s guide to finding work
December 19, 2012 —
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The candidate stands at the whiteboard, working out a coding problem in front of the interviewer. But if she does so silently, she may be making a simple mistake that will cost her the job. According to former Google engineer Gayle Laakmann McDowell, communication is key. “Because interview questions are really about your approach, not getting the right answer, solving questions out loud is very important... This has an added benefit of enabling your interviewer to steer you in the right direction periodically, enabling you to arrive at an optimal answer more quickly,” she wrote in her book “The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any Top Tech Company.”
If getting a job is a priority in the new year, there’s plenty of good news for every candidate, starting with the simple fact that software developers are once again in-demand. According to an analysis by CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists (EMSI), application developers top the list of promising 2013 occupations in the U.S., based on 7% growth since 2010, or the addition of 70,872 jobs.
The study uses EMSI’s labor market database, which pulls from more than 90 national and state employment resources, and includes detailed information on employees and self-employed workers. Other IT jobs on EMSI’s list include computer systems analysts (26,937 jobs added since 2010, 5% growth); network and systems administrators (18,626 jobs added since 2010, 5% growth); information security analysts, Web developers and computer network architects (15,715 jobs added since 2010, 5% growth); computer programmers (11,540 jobs added since 2010, 3% growth); and database administrators (7,468 jobs added since 2010, 7% growth).
The statistics are comforting, but what do they mean for your specific job search? Here are the answers to those questions that have kept you up at night.
Q: How long will it take to get hired?
A: Two to six months or more, even for high-quality candidates.
“Getting into Google took me 30 months. I’ve met people who took even longer to get there,” said David Sharnoff, an Oakland, Calif.-based software engineer who has been at Google for less than two years. He spent those 30 months employed at two other companies, however. Not everyone is so lucky.
A 2011 survey by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that nearly half of all unemployed job seekers had been out of work for more than a year. Those who reported being out of work for more than two years included stay-at-home-moms and retirees returning to the workforce.
"In a healthy economy, a successful job search might take two to three months. In a tight job market, such as the one we are in now, it is not unusual to see even high-quality candidates take four to six months," said John Challenger, CEO of the firm.
Q: Where are the jobs?
A: Silicon Valley; Seattle; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Boston; and Austin.
Of course, the behemoths are everywhere. Microsoft has campuses all over the world. Google even has wind farms (but presumably no developer jobs at them). But new studies show location is more important than you think.
Despite the truism that globalization and the Internet mean “the death of distance,” University of California, Berkeley economics professor Enrico Moretti claimed, “We are witnessing an inverse gravitational pull toward certain key urban centers.” In an interview on Amazon.com about his book, “The New Geography of Jobs,” he explained: “Globalization and localization seem to be two sides of the same coin. More than ever, local communities are the secret of economic success.”
It’s not news to software developers that most jobs in their field can be found in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Raleigh-Durham, Boston and Austin. But it is good news that, despite the outsourcing trend, companies and entrepreneurs are drawn to these cities because of the fertile ecosystem of expert workers found there. Further, it should give tech workers heart to know that their jobs have a force multiplier effect on local economies.
In his book, Moretti wrote, “For each new software designer hired at Twitter in San Francisco, there are five new job openings for baristas, personal trainers, doctors and taxi drivers in the community. While innovation will never be responsible for the majority of jobs in the United States, it has a disproportionate effect on the economy of American communities. Most sectors have a multiplier effect, but the innovation sector has the largest multiplier of all: about three times larger than that of manufacturing.”
“If I was looking for a job right now, I’d want to know if I should move somewhere else,” said Sharnoff. “I recently read that San Francisco now has as many or more software jobs as Mountain View and Palo Alto. That’s great for me because I live in Oakland.”
Silicon Valley is the epicenter of the software industry, but Moretti posited that there are three Americas: the tech centers; the former manufacturing centers like Detroit, Flint or Cleveland that are dying out; and cities that could go either way. If you’re outside one of those tech centers and not finding employment, relocating may make sense, even if the prevailing wisdom says you can telecommute from home.
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