IT jobs are scarce and there's stiff competition for the available openings. Budget cuts, hiring freezes, and reorganizations have some employers shopping for tech pros with a multitude of skills.
TechRepublic member Kevin Talbot wrote to us about this recent trend. Talbot is a systems engineer working on an Intel platform for a large IT services provider in California.
"I saw a job posting this morning asking for a Cisco LAN/WAN engineer who is also a Novell expert and also A+ certified so he can own the support for all the desktops and printers in the company," Talbot wrote. "These disciplines are on separate career tracks, but lots of hiring managers are asking for these 'jacks-of-all-trades' just because they can."
A quick search of Monster reveals a listing for a PC Engineer with an MCSE, Novell's CAN or CNE, Cisco certification, A+ certification, and a "strong knowledge" of Microsoft Office. Is this too much to ask for a position in New York City that pays between $50,000 and $55,000 annually?
Are IT pros to blame for this trend?
An article on ComputerWeekly.com suggested that the trend toward asking for expertise in multiple areas plus years of experience is due to the inflated resumes that some IT pros were able to pass off during the dot-com boom days. The article quoted Terry Watson, head of IT at Lewisham Hospital, who offered a possible explanation for companies' requests for more skills.
"People tend to view what they have with rose-tinted spectacles, and there have been a lot of people selling themselves with wonderful credentials. For example, you get people who have seen Windows 2000 but put down on their CV that they have experience in it," Watson said, adding that he'd hired several people who turned out to have less experience than they'd claimed.
IT jack-of-all trades: Short-term solution?
Although it's easy to understand the reason companies may merge multiple functions under one job description—a shortage of funds for IT staff—the end result may leave a lot to be desired. The decision to combine duties may result in a lack of truly qualified applicants or, worse, employees who are here today and gone tomorrow. If that happens, the wasted training and human resources efforts may come to more than simply hiring two or more individuals who can get the job done.
Talbot's e-mail to us asked these questions:
- Are companies actually finding people with that high level of experience?
- Aren't these companies concerned that these "super admins" will leave for something better the first chance they get?
"They might be getting talent at a bargain now, but it's short-term at best," Talbot said. "Do they even care about the long-term health of the systems? Turnover can be damaging to the maintenance level and uptime at the business, especially security."
Are they asking too much?
Is it necessary to have high levels of experience or certifications on multiple platforms to move into new positions in today's IT market? Are you having trouble finding a job because companies are looking for the illusive jack-of-all-trades? Send us an e-mail with your opinion, or post to the discussion below.