IT Employment

Poll: How do you feel about the programming job market?

Justin James says the programming job market where he lives appears to be looking up, yet a recent employment report paints a different picture. Take the poll to share your thoughts about this job market.

Recent news reports indicate that the worst of the bad economy is over. Where I live (which is in the southern part of the United States), every person I know who is in a development-related job role has returned to work, and I don't know any developers who have recently lost their job. The recruiters that I've talked to say they have developer positions open. And yet, the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics looks pretty abysmal.

Do you think the programming job market is improving or declining? Take this poll to let us know.

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

22 comments
Oleg F.
Oleg F.

It seems that there is no change in development opennings here in Eastern Europe. But I would like to get a permanent job in North America. Do I have any chances if I've got a good resume? Will local colleagues hate me if I arrive?

Justin James
Justin James

I think there may still be some opportunities in the US for foreign workers right now, particular those with skills that are getting rare in the US, like COBOL, C++, Fortran, and anything involving true "computer science". In my experience, there is *some* resentment against foreign workers. That being said, I've found that a few things lessen that resentment, and turn it into friendship: * Doing a good job * Following local customs and habits, to an extent * Talking to others and getting to know them and letting them get to know you Basically, it is not that the US workers hate foreigners... but they are afraid that foreign workers will take their jobs, or work for less money, or get hired and make a mess of things. Basically, in the US, there have been a lot of foreign workers who got hired because they worked cheaply, but they didn't know what they were doing because they lacked experience, and then everyone else spent a lot of time fixing the mistakes. In terms of following local customs... in my experience, there are many cultures from *all over the world* (I am not going to single out any particular culture here, because it is widespread) that do not practice certain hygiene practices that are considered normal in the West, such as wearing deoderant or anti-persperant. Or some people will bring in certain foods with a strong odor, and heat those foods in the microwave, which makes everything put into the microwave taste like those foods. This kind of thing causes more friction than anything else! While your new co-workers are probably quite interested in your culture, what things at home were like, why you wanted to come to the US, and so on, try to be aware that Americans have very specific "cultural norms" in some areas, and if you deviate from them, you will not be liked, no matter how good your work is. Some of these rules are: * Always put on deoderant or anti-persperant * It's OK to wear cologne or perfume, but do not use very much of it * If you sweat heavily, wear an undershirt * Do not make noise while using a spoon or drinking a beverage * Shower daily * If you bring food into the office, do not heat it in the microwave if it is strongly spiced or scented; if you truly love food like this, consider bringing your own microwave in out of courtesy to others, and eat it outdoors, in your personal office (if the door closes), or in the designated break area only. I know that these may be obvious to some folks, but I have learned that in many cultures, not all of these things are common, and failure to abide by these guidelines can really cause people to not like you. I hope this helps! J.Ja

read
read

despite good profits my parent company (based in Japan) decided to cut deep last week, we lost a lot of people

jmolina03
jmolina03

My suggestion to all my colleagues is to continue learning new and upcoming technologies and scripting languages. I'm stating the obvious, but what else can I say. I feel for everyone as we're all (regardless of our geographical location) trying to survive, feed or families and stay relevant. Good luck everyone!

jck
jck

I applied for a job in another state with a local government. They didn't even call to talk to me on the phone. Oh well.

Jim__J
Jim__J

I discovered over the past year just how unemployable I am. I'm over 50. Have sent our hundreds of resumes/inquiries. Not one interview. Lots of experience and having a multi-discipline program and systems background doesn't seem to be worth much.

mbrown
mbrown

Personally, I picked up the best job of my career in my late forties in a small manufacturing company that values a wide variety of skills in order to reduce IT positions; too many younger people are focused on specialties that smaller companies cannot afford. After 20+ years consulting, I love doing everything from desktop support to applications development to DBA to networking. Sale yourself to small companies as a one person IT shop, allowing them to grow their IT infrastructure without hiring a lot of people. Good luck!

Deborah.Odparlik.ctr
Deborah.Odparlik.ctr

I live in Oklahoma and we have been pretty lucky here. For the most part we haven't experienced the lack of jobs like the rest of the country.

jhoward
jhoward

Much of the development work available in our area (Chicago) is web development which unfortunately is a saturated market here. Many of the people I know who are making a living at it are doing contract work which is basically temporary. A bunch of them are taking part time jobs at bars and coffee shops to make things a little more stable. With the local economy still tanking and businesses trying to cut costs wherever possible unfortunately development tends to be outsourced to India or moved over to people who dabble in it on the side instead of hiring a full time professional or even contracting local help for a specific purpose.

Ole88
Ole88

I've noticed that most of the jobs here in Atlanta are focused on C#/ASP.NET, Java and general web development. If you are looking for COBOL or VB or some other language, you may not see as many jobs listed. I haven't actually been in a development job in a long time, but I have been reading up on C# for some dev work at my current job. I would like to reconnect with something I enjoy and I am currently in a place where I can do that in addition to my other daily responsibilities. Maybe if I do well enough I can move into something new when the market really turns around in a couple of years.

KSoniat
KSoniat

I'm in SC too - after I left my last employer (3 people had been laid off already) 3 more people were laid off. Two have left since then to other jobs. The good part is, there were other jobs for some of us to go to.

anthony.pegram
anthony.pegram

The developer job market in the Triad region of North Carolina has never been the best, but nearby Raleigh to the east and Charlotte to the southwest are better overall. Just going by job listings on various engines, you can tell the job market has rebounded in those locations compared to where it was a few months ago, but it is still off levels of a couple of years ago. I can't say for salaries, though.

Kam Guerra
Kam Guerra

The market for developers hasn't been great since the dot-com days. Since then it's been on a downward spiral, most notably in salary. Face it - a recruiter's job is to hire a body for the lowest possible salary. It's not uncommon (here in the DC area) for seasoned developers to get paid around $50K - $60K while working in absurd conditions (provide your own equipment or time share company equipment, or with 2 or 3 people per cube), questionable ethics (not reimbursed for travel because a manager hasn't met "personal performance" metrics), lousy benefits (medical & dental coverage are position/project based) and a myriad of other issues. Layoffs still happen frequently as projects come to an end or management's metrics change. Sure recruiters have positions open - a mismatch of entry level pay with 10+ years experience.

programmeroo
programmeroo

The demand for programmers is down and the supply of talent is high, so of course the salaries are low. I live in Hawaii. We had 2-3% unemployment for a decade before 2008, now its 12%. I have been unable to find a job here for over a year; even with a Masters degree and 30 years experience. I recently bid on a DBA job and was beat by someone who was willing to do the work for FREE to learn the skills. Perhaps the business owner was trying to play me to get free service. I got a haircut for free once and subsequently, I started shaving my head. Several hundred IT consultants have registered on my website in response to jobs I posted for proposals and short contracts. Many of them indicate that they are willing to work for as little as $20 per hour. I could never take advantage of someone who worked hard to build a career and became a victim of poor economic times. The ONLY industries actively hiring for full-time or contracts longer than a few months are government and medical. I have applied for hundreds of these jobs and never got a response. Many of the government contractors build a resume pool to bid on contracts. the job postings are not always real. There is no economic indication that the job market is improving. Taxes are going up next year, so small businesses will be closing. Banks have changed the rules for borrowing and making fewer SBA loans. I just don't see how it can get too much worse. Your survey is missing bad with no change.

LLL3
LLL3

I thought things were rough here (well, they are) but it sounds even worse in Hawaii. I wanted to comment on a couple of your points. You said -- "I could never take advantage of someone who worked hard to build a career and became a victim of poor economic times." -- I could not either, and I know some do. But I think also that so many businesses are having a rough time themselves, and so uncertain about what lies ahead, that they feel they either pay very little or hire not at all. You also said: "Many of the government contractors build a resume pool to bid on contracts. the job postings are not always real." I have thought about applying for govt. contracts but never gone there for fear of a bureacratic/paperwork nightmare. But others I know who have tried echo this sentiment -- the fix is in. Don't even bother, they already know who they plan to hire (and it's not you!) before they make you jump through 1,000 paperwork hoops. Don't know if that's true, but it's definitely the sentiment amongst many who have bid for govt. contracts. And then I know one or two (wealthy people) who get contract after contract after contract -- so yeah, I bet it is true. Good Luck.

msteudel
msteudel

Sorry to hear things are tough over there. Ive posted on our local Seattle craigslist gig page looking for PHP developers and only get overseas developers, I never get anybody local that seems any good. Even through some local PHP groups I see more people looking for subcontractors then jobs ...

LLL3
LLL3

As an independant contractor I can't personally speak to "Jobs" but I have been told by friends at staffing agencies that San Diego (my area) is DEAD -- But there is movement in other areas (like the Bay Area). I believe there IS business -- it's just smaller projects that turn out to be more work for less moeny and I just have to reach outside my area to find most of it. Thank God for the Internet and remote connectivity... I had a conversation with an associate the other day who ticked off all a list of people she knows who have been successfully programming as independent contractors for 15-20 years who suddenly have no business. As in they are now living on a friend's couch no business. I definitely hope things are looking up, but I'm not seeing it where I am yet.

msteudel
msteudel

That's interesting, I'm always baffled about how our market works. I hear stories like yours and I get worried, then I poll my network of developers/marketing agencies/etc and they all are in similar positions of having too much work ... I'm sure some of it might come down to things like diversification ... who knows ...

djhays
djhays

I'm a developer in a company in San Diego. While our company has openings, all the jobs so far are going to workers from other countries.

mbrown
mbrown

While I have been fortunate enough to be steadily employed throughout the recession as a full-time employee, I have recently been bombarded by email from recruiters who say they have a lot of jobs in the Portland area that they cannot fill. I have heard sporadically from recruiters over the years, but recently it looks like a large increase in consulting positions. Just my own personal perspective, but it does seem to bode well for IT in Oregon.

msteudel
msteudel

I'm a web developer that runs a three person shop out of Seattle. From a anecdotal perspective, over the last year and a half we've only seen in INCREASE in work. We work with folks all over the US, N. Carolina, New York, Chicago, Bay area, Seattle, etc. I'm not sure why, maybe it's because companies that are laying off in house developers are looking to out-source work until times are better and they can re-hire developers. Anyway I'd say to developers that are looking for work or supplement work to also look at the freelance arena till times get better.

Justin James
Justin James

... when I hear you describe your job market there, is that it sounds like the job market in South Carolina (traditionally one of the top 5 in the country in unemployment) is actually a better place to be a developer. And that is really, really sad. Sounds like the pay rates are a touch better here, the cost of living is a LOT lower... if you can make it in DC on that money, you can make it here, and send the kids (if any) to private school with the savings. :) J.Ja

Editor's Picks