Education

10 common career myths

Career prospects have changed dramatically from previous generations. Alan Norton offers this wake-up call for IT pros who may still cling to certain expectations -- like salary increases, job advancements, benefits, and a nice retirement package.

After nine years working for the same company, I suddenly found myself one day disillusioned with the traditional concept of career. I had earned a salary grade increase only to have it taken away due to a corporate business unit buyout. I don't like to admit it, but I was bitter and angry. I couldn't stomach the notion that my career had gone nowhere in almost 10 years of dedicated hard work.

I sit down now 14 years later to try to analyze why I had become so cynical about the entire concept of career. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Perhaps I bought into the idea of a career with one company. Perhaps I was blind to the changes going on in the corporate world around me. Or perhaps cynicism is part of the aging process. I do know that the concept of career as it existed in my mind when I started my career no longer exists. Here are 10 reality checks to help you get your expectations in line with the changes that have happened and are happening today.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: College will gain you entry

It used to be that a college degree was the ticket to a successful professional career and an above average salary. The reality is that not enough of those high-paying jobs exist for college graduates today and may not for quite some time. More people are graduating by percentage than ever, which means more competition for new IT openings. Wikipedia states that of the general U.S. population aged 25 and older, more than 52% have some college and 27.7% have a Bachelor's degree. You will still need a degree to be considered for most professional IT positions -- it's just less certain now that the all-important diploma will be your ticket to the career of your dreams.

2: You will climb the career ladder

I once idealistically believed that sometime between my fifth and 10th year working for one company, I would receive my first promotion. My second promotion would come before my 20th year. It didn't work out that way. I had to change jobs to get my promotion -- and changing jobs can sometimes be a risky proposition.

The recession has taken its toll. Millennials now expect fewer promotions. Also, the career path for software engineers, database administrators, and other IT specialists is limited at most companies that do not specialize in IT services. If you are a technician or specialist and ambitious and want to climb the corporate ladder in such a company, you may have to transition to a managerial position with a broader career path. It's not common to see a tech successfully make the transition to management but it can be done.

3: You will work for one company

Japan has traditionally been known for its employee/corporate loyalty. In a survey of young Japanese workers, 75% were willing to change jobs if something better came along. How times have changed. Even IBM, once well known for its policy of lifetime employment, has had to change its no-layoffs policy. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, fewer than 10% of all employees stay with a company for more than 20 years.

4: Your career will bring you happiness

Well, maybe. But current trends suggest that it is becoming harder than ever. Patrick Thibodeau notes that IT job satisfaction is at an all-time low. Those just beginning their career expecting to find happiness on the other side of their formal education may have unrealistic expectations.

The longer you work, the more certain it will be that you will find yourself unhappy on the job. Maybe it will be the boss who takes credit for your work, the fourth or fifth time you are overlooked for a promotion, the peer who stabs you in the back, or the manager you just can't work with. Unhappiness happens.

5: You will have one area of expertise

It is more likely than ever that your last job before retirement will be significantly different from the one you had at the beginning of your career. A remark by TechRepublic contributor Michael Kassner has stuck with me. He said he's had to reinvent himself many times during his career. He isn't alone. I and many Boomers have had to reinvent themselves as well.

6: You will retire with the highest salary

If you do have to reinvent yourself, you may be earning a salary more fitting a novice than an experienced professional. You could wind up being among the flotsam and jetsam discarded into the ranks of the unemployed, so you might make less money once you find gainful employment. Salary is not always a steady progression from low to high throughout your career.

7: Benefits will remain part of your pay package

An ever-growing list of benefits provided by corporations are being trimmed or cut outright: medical and dental insurance, pension plans, and matching funds for 401k contributions are good examples. You can no longer expect your company to provide for your needs beyond a basic salary.

8: You will be able to retire when you expected

The retirement age with full Social Security benefits hasn't changed much over the years. Retirement at a later age is a real possibility due to unfunded commitments to retirees. In France, a bill that increases the retirement age from 60 to 62 has led to millions taking to the streets in protest.

We are, after all, living longer on average than we did in 1960. Life expectancy in the United States has grown from 69.7 in 1960 to 77.5 years in 2003, so it is not entirely unreasonable that we should be expected to retire later. The current economic downturn hasn't helped, either. Many Boomers are facing the reality that retirement will come later than originally planned.

9: Your pension plan funds will be there for you when you retire

Ask a former Enron employee and you will likely hear a sad story of a "solid" company suddenly gone --and with it, the employee pension plan. Corporate bankruptcy isn't the only cause for concern about the viability of your pension plan. Tough economic times have left pension plans underfunded, bringing doubt as to whether Boomers will see their entire pension plan funds when they become eligible.

10: Social Security will be there for you as promised

I was told that Social Security was developed to protect the ignorant and financially inept masses from themselves. The common man just couldn't be trusted to save for his retirement. Regardless of whether that statement is true, the irony is that the FICA taxes collected over the years have already been spent by those clever politicians you and I sent and keep sending to Washington. How much, if any, will be available when each of us retires is unknown, but the trends point to a crisis in the making. The outlays were not expected to exceed money collected until 2016, but that is now expected to occur in 2010. In 1950, 16 workers paid in for every recipient. That is estimated to dwindle to two per recipient by 2030.

Yes, you will probably get something from Social Security. But don't count on it at age 62. And don't expect to receive the same estimated payment that is printed on the Social Security statement you receive each year from the Social Security Administration.

It's not just the U.S. government-funded retirement system that is in trouble, either. Except for Australia and Canada, many countries are facing problems funding their pension plans due to population aging and other challenges.

The bottom line

I have focused on a lot of negative changes. I would like to end with a few words of encouragement. Hang tough; the recession won't last forever. The knowledgeable, agile, and hard working can survive, even thrive, in today's ever-changing workplace and tough economic climate.

Perhaps this infamous Chinese proverb says it best: "May you live in interesting times." My career was not what I expected, but it certainly wasn't boring. Are your career expectations in line with the new economic reality? Like me, you may be disappointed if they aren't.


About

Alan Norton began using PCs in 1981, when they were called microcomputers. He has worked at companies like Hughes Aircraft and CSC, where he developed client/server-based applications. Alan is currently semi-retired and starting a new career as a wri...

131 comments
Imp Press
Imp Press

"It's not common to see a tech successfully make the transition to management but it can be done."

I started my own company while I worked my 9-5 job: Instantaneous promotion to management.

My failure to immerse myself in technology 24-7 and my drifting towards generalization rather than specialization led to being justifiably passed over for promotion to more driven colleagues. This was my end run and the trajectory has been very promising. I have teh security of the paycheck woth a growing promise of a company that will never fire me.



 

dpbaird1
dpbaird1

I had to reinvent myself 4 times in a 34 year career (1953-1987) with IBM and a couple of times in an active retirement.  If you Google "half life of a technical degree," you'll find that research has shown that it is relatively short.  I found that some of the literature on the development the Unified Modeling Language  (UML) was helpful in developing my understanding of IT.  "The UML enables system builders to create blueprints that capture their visions in a standard, easy-to-understand way and to communicate them to others." (Sams Teach Yourself UML, p. 5).  When I was marketing scientific computing, I used to kid that a looked for a engineer with a German accent because that person would have a theoretical understanding of the data that the American handbook trained engineer did not have and that was necessary to build the application.  If you are interested in a professional career in IT, I recommend Fred Brooks' "The Design of Design."  You might want to read it with a peer so that the two of you can discuss how Fred's comments apply to your situation.

dimonic
dimonic

If you re-invent early enough, then you will actually see your value (paycheque) increase with each change as you will be on the forefront of new trends. I took the move to Linux before 2000 as a server technology, and then more recently embedded Linux and now (aged 54) I am more sought after then ever before.


The trick is to stay current, embrace change, buy the new gadgets and play with them to figure out where the value is, dabble with stuff. Right now I am playing with robotics and the Maker communities, as I figure out the next big thing.


The biggest thing is you have to actively look at your career as something you need to manage, not something that happens to you.

derbypicks
derbypicks

Too much gloom and doom.  This is the new WORLD economy.  If you are in IT, you need to re-invent yourself since technology keeps changing and you have to change with it.

ElijahKam
ElijahKam

If things are so bad in IT, why are companies lobbying Congress to import more IT people from foreign countries? As for Social Security, it will be there. None of it has been spent for anything other than its purpose. The trust fund is invested in Treasury Bonds which now are worth more than ever as people dumped their stocks to buy U.S. Treasury bonds and, of course, gold.

jcommunications
jcommunications

Not to doubt the veracity or relevance of all these points, but maybe a better name for this article would have been "10 reasons to quit IT and sell spicy hotdogs from a cart on the street". It's just so bleak, this future of our shrinking middle class....

dunngm
dunngm

Another "one word": AMEN!

Englebert
Englebert

...when people stayed with one company, got a memento after 25 years, gold watch on retirement, never had to be let go and never had to work like an animal. WTF happened ? I also recall reading about 15 years ago or so, that there would be so much need for IT, that there would a serious shortage to fulfill the tech needs of the future. WTF happened to that theory ?

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

There are many laughable statements here, because you simply haven't read enough history (or writing about scientific of societal change) to know how to make predictions. Like most novices, you're assuming change occurs in a straight line. Everything happening right now will continue at the same pace-- unless it increases. In reality, change is closer to circular-- ideas go in out of fashion, and trends often reverse or change direction. "If this goes one..." never works as a predictive model, and you can validate that by finding books of predictions published 30 years ago, and laughing at how ridiculous their claims seem now. (I think half the world was going to be starving, but the Dow would be at 100,000.) You're also assuming there will be no unexpected events-- another beginner's mistake. 10 years ago, people insisted that the H-1B craze would continue indefinitely. 9/11 and subsequent events certainly changed that. Most of your mistakes aren't provable yet-- but the point about Social Security is. Your scary nonsense is demonstrably false; two simple changes (removing the cap on deductions over $106,000 and not paying out to wealthy people) would keep the existing system solvent well into the 21st century. Immigration reform will bring in revenue from a sizable number of workers who are already here, but are working off the books now. None of those changes seem likely to happen right now-- but that's why predictions are so difficult to make. About the only thing intelligent people can be sure of is that "Something unexpected is likely to happen."

wlportwashington
wlportwashington

Myth number 11 and it is so true: Your job is safe and will not be outsourced offshored.

JonathanSeer
JonathanSeer

techs companies in the USA can import and hire? It's really too bad that American Engineers have been taken hook line and sinker by the "do it on my own" ethos. For that reason, major tech companies gain win after win against the interests of their American tech. employees as a group. But because TEch types have no "group sense" no sense of loyalty to other techs, instead a competitive sense, they are unable to unite and speak with one voice. Unfortunately the "individualist mindset" of your typical engineer automatically associates the obvious answer Unions with overpaid, lazy, stupid public employees. They forget that pilots have a union, as do aireline technicians Etc. But Unions are not the only option. The almost forgotten but more viable than ever the "guild" would probably work even better. For any unity to develop though American Tech employees/engineers will have to realize the "on my own" ethos leaves them completely and utterly helpless vs. a vs. changes in the employment world that lower their pay, lengthen their hours and cut their benefits. INstead of being angry at the Indian who comes her to take a job paying many times what he could make in India, Engineers should be mad at themselves for being too proud and headstrong to see that the "on my own" ethos when dealing with multinational corporations is a fool's idiotology. In the beginning it was the best mindset to find major success, but today in a mature industry it's a hinderance to succeeding as an engineer. A hollow exhortation that encourages individuals to fight for themselves alone against multinationals. It's a fight no one person can win anymore. If engineers do not learn/accept that a blow against one of them is a blow against all of them, and work together to preserve their rights, then the gradual erosion of security, salary, benefits and status for tech workers in general will continue unabaited. One thing is indisputable, and that is the "on my own" ethos has not done a thing to stop the annual importation of Indian Engineers to take jobs that this article says could be filled by unemployed Americans. It hasn't even produced an answer to the lie that they want the quotas increased to make up for the shortage of "qualified American ones." Proud individualism had a proper place during the early days of the modern tech industry, but in a mature industry it's a loser's mindset.

bernardmorey
bernardmorey

All true in my long work experience. One thing I have learned is there is no such thing as company loyalty towards employees, so it is misguided to give your loyalty to your employer. Always look out for No 1. I've been self-employed for some 5 years now, fortunately earning the same or a bit more than I did as an employee. But no benefits other than greater tax deductions. What I have got is a great deal more enjoyment of life and almost zero stress.

d.r.margulies
d.r.margulies

If you work for the US govn't, either military or just govn't worker most of this doesnt apply.

larojas
larojas

Yes, it's hard for countries with collective pension systems. Luckily in Chile we have individual funds and are growing at 6-7% this year.

tcmontoya
tcmontoya

What year was this written? I've been in the IT field since 1985 and these were true back in the early '90's. Things are just worse now overall. There is no magic cocktail for success. Keep your skill set up to date and stay FF (flexible and frosty). If you ever think your safe, you are not. Everything is transitory.

csdavenport
csdavenport

Forget No. 10... Social Security will be there... as Franklin D. Roosevelt pointed out when SS was created, if the average person has to contribute to this fund (taxes), then no politician will be able to ever remove it. Thus, it is too hot of a potato for any politician to allow it to fail. We will continue to contribute, the politicians will continue to fund it and our parents, ourselves and our children will continue to receive checks from this system. To think otherwise is just a bunch of saber rattling by lesser informed individuals....

learn4ever
learn4ever

You just posted this yesterday... or am I wrong? Good article none-the-less.

MichaelPO
MichaelPO

For those of us moving to the end of our career this was a hard lesson to learn. Once you accept it and learn to swim with the current, work life gets better.

Mihi Nomen Est
Mihi Nomen Est

My wife & I met at a hospital. I knew I wasn't going to stay, but she's now been there for thirty years. Before I left, we put all of the benefits; e.g., insurance... through her. That way, I can work for companies which are small or new enough they can't afford quality coverage. I've negotiated with some places to add what their contribution to my benefits would be to my salary. This allows them to pay me more than they could otherwise. One of the worst places I worked billed us out for $125/hour. That wasn't such a big deal for people (non-coders) to stop by & create a couple of reports, tweak this, that, and the other thing, etc. But how do you justify that rate when you give them an estimate up-front. What was bad was she never put any money back into the firm. Whatever was left over went home. This mean being *very* strategic about incurring expenses. Funny thing: 3-4 of us out of the 10 saw swirling water running around the porcelain and bailed. Within three months, she imploded. As far as the comment about "remaking yourself", one of the things I detested about larger shops is they can handle having specialists in one or one and a related job responsibility. Me? I live for the learning curve. My mom used to go to grade school Open House to warn my teachers, "be careful. If he gets familiar with something, he's ready to move on to something new to learn." As a result, I'm the top 10 in my region at nothing, and that's largely by design. I'm about average in everything I've touched. In small (or startup) shops, I'm able to cover a lot of turf, which is how I like it. I'm now putting together a startup of my own. Finding other people? That's what Startup Weekend (http://startupweekend.org/) is for. Even if you don't participate and just float about, it's well worth looking into. It's a great weekend. I'm not taking my stuff in as a project as it's longer than that weekend can handle. But I'll find other people who are looking or know someone who is looking for a startup. I'd like to think I'll have a bulletin board up in the front room with a pair of scissors and a bunch of pushpins. Any ties coming in are taken off or clipped (and tacked on the wall): ties cut off oxygen to the brain and impair good thinking. ;) The last startup I worked for had to have casual (vs. business casual Dockers) because the webbing of Aeron chairs would eventually start wearing through the toughest of jeans. Dress pants or Dockers had no hope of survival. But none of us complained. (Those chairs are suh-weet)

alistair.k
alistair.k

Maybe its a transatlantic thing. I have never expected to hold a job with one company more than 2-3 years. My longest run in one office saw that office owned by three different companies, then I transferred to another office within the same company, all in 5 years. I have been promoted a couple of times but somehow promotion never brings extra money so I move companies to get the pay to match the job I do... I'm 40 and been in this game since I was 18. I didn't go to university because it was not economically viable, I'd earn more in those three years than the differential of a graduate or non-graduate salary afterwards... I've been made redundant twice, had to reapply for my own job, had to lay off staff more than once, had to claim unemployment, tried self employment, been in the private sector, public sector, third sector... You do what you do. Sometimes I think my career sucks, sometimes I think its great. Depends what you make of it. I always try to work with and for great people. That is what matters most. I am underpaid right now and facing probably my third redundancy unless things pick up real soon. If I get cut, I have contacts in Hong Kong and I may go ride the Asian Tiger. If you sit there waiting for life to happen to you then you will be disappointed. You have to be flexible and proactive and realistic. Oh and keep your chin up ol' sport!

RW17
RW17

What's a Career? Why is it presently viewed as the Master Status (primary role) of everyone? Then again, I am immensely frustrated with my experiences in my "career" regarding #2 and #4. As a consultant who bills some 2500 hours on average per year, and then travels another 800 free-of-charge other than my time, I have always thought that being staffed on projects all the time would mean I was recognized and rewarded highly. It's not true. In fact, if you are on the bench a lot and you kiss a lot of butt to your consulting managers, you will get promoted way faster. Now, how is that reasonable? Our performance objectives are billable hour based, but the one's who get booted off of projects and spend their time at the home office are the promoted, recognized consultants. Oh, they are also the trained consultants too, because training doesn't interfere with their billable hours while on the bench. Consulting Career Logic... an oxymoron for the ages. PS - I guess I have reached my cynical years too, but where there is smoke, there is usually fire...

david.szymanski
david.szymanski

This should be taught to all IT graduates and re-taught to all those pursuing graduate degress with an IT emphasis.

adamspivey
adamspivey

I have working on a help desk for the past 4 years. I figured I.T. would offer me more opportunities and took this job because I thought it would be a stepping stone to something else. I was wrong. There are guys here that have been here on the help desk for 7 to 10 years and have Bachelor's and Master's degrees. They are deep in debt that they can't even discharge their debt in a bankruptcy. My situation sucks but at least I'm not as bad off as some people, I did't pile up mountains of debt for a worthlesss I.T. degree just to be stuck working on a help desk, doing low skill stuff, like replacing hard drives, reimaging PC's, and installing software. I am considering going back to my previous job fixing printers and copiers. That didn't have a lot of future either but there was less b.s. and NO AFTERHOURS support. Stay the hell out of I.T., its a terrible career choice.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

Yes, I feel a little bit like Hari Seldon who predicted the demise of the Galactic Empire. Hari had a solution, not to prevent the fall but to lessen the time to begin the rebuilding process. I have no solutions but I do have some ideas. For those of you who haven't read the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, Hari Seldon wasn't very well liked by the establishment and was known as "The Raven" for his gloomy predictions. Edit: Added 'by'

mike
mike

a system where everyone pays but those who have too much can't get any of what they paid in. Too funny. I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination but I do think that if you pay into something you should get something back in return. I'm not into this class warfare mentality which says those that make good should be punished for making good.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

There are three primary ways to make Social Security viable: Reduce benefits Increase retirement age Increase FICA taxes Of course, the plan can go back to the same conditions that existed when Social Security was rolled out - the average age of death was higher than the age of eligibility! Simple solution. The dead don't collect Social Security! What will actually happen? Who knows? FICA taxes are likely to go even higher, but there is a limit to what the younger generations are willing to shell out. The retirement age is likely to rise. It will be almost impossible to cut benefits but some clever politician will come up with a name (The Social Security Opportunity Act) and a plan that sounds like roses but upon closer look is actually thorns. The "fund" is empty and the money is gone. The unfortunate reality is that Boomers and previous generations have already benefited from their contributions. It is foolish not to think that something has to give and it is going to be fascinating to see what the politicians do with this hot potato.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

Jody posted this on Tuesday, the 5th.

dlthompson471
dlthompson471

In my opinion, the globalization of the workforce by U.S. companies and the automation of many key industries through technology spell the end of the middle class in America. This predicts a time in the future where a small % of humanity will be able to produce all the goods and services required by everyone else. My question is "what do societies do with everyone else?" It is a hard question to answer and I certainly don't have one but the question has been on my mind for some time now. At the moment Americans are concerned about the lack of jobs and unemployment rate but the reality is new jobs won't be created by American industry for Americans. So what is the answer? Make work jobs funded by Uncle Sam? Where does the money come from if you don't have workers from other industries paying enough in taxes to support the make work jobs? As I said, I don't have an answer but I think the failure of the U.S. government (who are after all made up of people) to address this issue will lead to the further decline of the American middle class and the eventual decline of America as a world power. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Just stuck to tech, never really fancied management beyond project/ technical lead. 47, 23 years in IT. Never had to claim unemployment since 1980.

glennsnead
glennsnead

The more I learn about your nation, the more I realize...you really aren't European. You're something unique and different. It's little wonder English is dominating the world, the Sterling is so powerful, or that you're reluctant completely give up your sovereignty to the EU.

adamspivey
adamspivey

No this should be taught to everybody BEFORE they go into massive debt wasting money on a worthless I.T. degree. After they graduate is too late, they already will have a massive amount a debt that can't even be discharged in a bankrupcty. Their lives will be effectivley ruined, they won't be able to start a family or even move out of their parents because they will be trying to pay back their student loan debt working a lousy, lowpaying I.T. job. People will be better off going into a trade that doesn't require a degree. They will probably make about the same amount of money but won't have massive debt.

msims
msims

Don't blame the whole IT industry because it has many different areas. But I do agree that the Help desk area in IT sucks because you're constantly placed under pressure to solve the problem, work 24/7, on-call and weekends as well. So don,t just say stay away from IT just stay out of the help desk.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

a system that pays everybody's contributions back over, at most, three years, but still keeps paying out.

clavius
clavius

Hi Alan-- You seem to be promulgating some commonly held myths about Social Security, particularly the bit about the money having been taken and spent. It hasn't been--it's been *loaned* to the US government in the form of bonds. When individuals put their money into US bonds, we think of it as conservative investing. So why do so many people think of it as just being "spent" when SSA does the same thing? For more clarifications about what is and isn't true about SS, have a look at http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/RetirementandWills/CreateaPlan/5mythsAboutSocialSecurity.aspx.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Businesses love it, all those people out of work to threaten us with if we get uppity. No guilt about getting rid, and best of all, we pay for it.

mbrown
mbrown

An immediate fix that the majority would support would be to raise the earnings limit on contributions to $250,000 or higher, this would have an immediate effect on the short-term funding problems. What is actually needed long term is a return to high employment and high wages for the entire country...which is probably not going to happen! Of course, as boomers drop off the rolls (die), things will start to balance out as well...and yes, I am a boomer too!

alistair.k
alistair.k

My observation: The "real" Europeans want a form of democratic socialism and are prepared to pay for that. Try take it away from them and they riot. The British want the *benefits* of a democratic socialist state without paying the price of maintaining such machinery. Try take it away from us and we'll write a strongly worded letter to a newspaper. The above is a terrible sterotype and I would probably wobble my stiff upper lip in indignation if some Johnny Foreigner were to say so... ;-)

boldenburg
boldenburg

Instead of whining, get off your butt and do something about it. Do some research, there are plenty of growth IT jobs out there but your not going to get them by sitting on your arse and complaining all day. Many of us are happy in our IT careers, mine of over 20 years with numerous companies and roles. The bottom line is that it is your career to manage, nobody is going to do it for you.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

and up front about it, 2 to 4 years is an epoch in IT. Anyone who got caught out by this was asleep at the wheel.

adamspivey
adamspivey

Yeah, the help desk sucks but it is where most people are going to end up stuck even if you have a degree. Since they don't have enough higher level I.T. positions for all the people that are coming out with I.T. degrees. The only jobs available right now are low level help desk jobs unless you already have a lot of experience and can get senior admin positions. It is next to impossible to move from a low level help desk worker to a senior admin position. For the senior admin positions they want a Masters Degree from MIT, 15 years experience, you must know Microsoft Server 2003 and 2008, SQL server, SAP, Cisco,Linux, have a top level security clearance and speak 8 different languages, then you MIGHT get a job that pays about $60 grand a year. Oh yeah and don't expect to have any free time or raise a family, you will be spending that time working on your fucking certifications that are going to need to be constantly updated every 3 months.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

Yes, I have never understood why the earnings limit exists. Perhaps someone who understands this can explain why the limit exists and why such a low amount was chosen. Before things balance out the lump has to pass through the snake.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

They still don't get the right people, so they 'fix' the process by requiring a masters, then a PhD. Good job there isn't a Nobel prize for IT. That would slim down the number of people they could be wrong about....

blhelm
blhelm

HR types and recruiters at consulting companies use IT Degrees and certifications as "screens" to weed out the numbers. It makes their jobs easier and more automated. Resumes get loaded into databases when we apply for the positions. All a recruiter has to do execute a search using key words and presto out comes a list of the most qualified candidates - in their minds at least. It doesn't matter to them if the most qualified and experienced person doesn't include the correct buzzwords (keywords) on their resume. They just want to get their job done as quickly as possible and move on the to next job rec. It is just a numbers game to them.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I never went... :D Not just academia, employers now won't even look at you if you are a starter without one. A degree is now the equivalent of literate when I started. :(

adamspivey
adamspivey

However for the record, I personally never wasted my time to get an I.T. degree. To me it seemed the equavalent of getting a Master's degree in mechanical engineering to become an auto-mechanic. Not there is nothing wrong with fixing cars but you shouldnn't get a degree to become a technician. You get a degree to become an engineer. I am just warning there are a lot of people going to college and are going to be in a rude awakening. I work on a help desk, everybody here is very smart, hard working and all have at least a Bachelor's degree and two have Master's degrees. Those are the people I really feel sorry for because they are not only stuck in a lousy field, they have massive amounts of debt.

blhelm
blhelm

Tony; You and I may have been able to recognize the red flags and warning signs because we have been in the industry long enough. Those who fall prey to the college and tech school recruiters may not be. They were hyped on the promise of a bright future in IT. Many a youth was led astray by unethical acedemics whos only interest was their own self interest.

blhelm
blhelm

Adam; I feel your pain. You have been victimized by educational institutions that capitalized on the most basic of economic laws - Supply & Demand. During the PC boom years of the 80's & 90's the supply of experienced IT people was low. Getting a good job straight out of college and climbing that corporate ladder was a given. As technologies progressed and companies demanded that their resources be "experienced" in the newest of the new, pressure was applied to HR departments and Consulting Companies to supply the talent and skills needed. When the supply was thin, wages, salaries and per hour billing rates were high. Educational institutions capitalized on that trend and took advantage of it by flooding their classrooms accordingly. Then came along the Y2K risk to place a punctuation mark on the demand for talent and skills. Now HR departments and consulting agencies were pressured to locate even more supply. So they turned to resources outside the geographic confines of CONUS. That is when contracting companys realized a tremendous profit opportunity by offering lower compensation to individuals that came from a much lower standard of living while billing just slightly lower than the competition - just to win the contract. Over the past 10 years, educational institutions still had to meet their payrolls and bay the bills on the classrooms so they continued to market their services (providing IT eductaions) to more and more people. More contracting companies entered into a very profitable market with offshore and H1B1 resources. The result has been the flooding of the IT job market with WAY to much suppply. The consequence to those of us that have been in the industry for the past 25 to 30 years is being forced to re-invent our selves just to keep money coming in. The lucky few that have been in one position with one company all these years are definately in the minority. Is there still opportunities in IT in the future? Of course. But it will take a lot of personal sacrifice of time and money to break up out of the glass ceiling, and Catch 22, called "No job with out experience - no experience with out a job". If a person really needs security and unlimited opportunity, find another industry. The IT industry has reached a state of maturity where the law of Supply & Demand has been realized. Just think of all the buggy whip manufacturers that went out of business when the horseless carriages where in higher demand.

Karen D.
Karen D.

@Alan Norton  I won't dispute anything you said about the grim outlook for IT employees because I am not an IT professional. But I spent most of my career working at the U.S. Treasury Department and I know your outlook for Social Security is long on misinformation and short on fact.


The Social Security trust fund is not empty. The money has not been spent. It is borrowed and government Treasury Bonds have been issued. Those are the very same bonds that investors -- including the Chinese government -- have investments in. They will not default and they have the full faith of the U.S. behind them.


The most cautious estimate is that they will be depleted within 75 years and that is based on estimates of the economy, which often prove wrong when you go that far out. Further, the changes that need to be taken to fix even that are modest. Raising the cap on the payroll tax or eliminating it altogether would go a long way to fixing the problems that do exist.


A lot of the gloom and doom about Social Security is part of the "fix the debt" crowd's obsession with inflation, which is nonexistent. In fact, a bigger worry right now for Europe is deflation. Too low inflation is almost as bad for an economy as too high inflation. That's because it gives secure financial instruments like Certificates of Deposits too low a rate of return. It also makes the growth of savings accounts and savings bonds too low. The only people who benefit from deflation are stock investors who like cheap money. And those are the people who have been hurting our economy for years.


Part of the real reason there has been so little job creation is that large companies are not investing in job growth, product research and development, and employee training. Instead they are buying back their own stocks to boost the stock value on the market. And they are passing those profits to investors as dividends.


CEO's bonuses are based on the value of the stock, not the health of the company. So their whole financial strategy is to boost the value of stock, not necessarily grow the company, invent and produce better products, or develop staff. There are very few companies like Apple and Microsoft out there that still actually care more about inventing beautiful and innovative products.


And even Apple is being hounded by "activist" investors (or troll investors, as investment writer Allan Sloan calls them) like Carl Icahn, who wants Apple to put more money into stock buyouts rather than new products.


So, if it feels like the work world is now a stacked deck. It is. And Social Security is one of the few things that hardworking middle class workers still can count on. Don't let the cheap money, anti-debt investment crowd take that away from you too by spreading their misinformation.

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