How To Survive Ina Job Market That Sucks

What do you do when TheJobMarketSucks?

Here are some tips:

The job market is not really that bad in most parts of the country. But the days of people making $75K/year right out of college just because they know C++ may be gone.

Well, what parts of the country is it "decent"?

Maybe it's just as well. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in PayingYourDues.

I didn't know that there were such days. I'd settle for the days of people making $75K/yr just because they have been programming for nine years and former co-workers call you "guru." I wasn't aware those days had gone away.

Why should a company hire an American or European developer? They can have the same level of skills from an Indian contractor asking for far less money. In the next coming years, I think that the only solution to have a real chance to get a good job in to learn management. And, waw, in the US, you have the best MBA of the world.

-- A WikiZen from France.

Ah, but A Defense Contractor in America will *very likely* hire an American. In some cases, they must. Not everything about the Cold-War Industrial Complex is bad: from it blossoms job security.

Agreed. Raw programming is going the way of factory work. If you are not a manager, your options and wages will fade over time. Students should be encouraged to socialize and goof off. Technical skills are a surplus globally. Managers are the only thing not easily importable because it is mostly a social function, and socializers don't like remote interaction. Hug Globalization. BTW, is France hiring?

I am sorry, but France is not hiring that much. It is even more difficult if you are not a French national.

-- JeanLucBonnafoux?

Course it is, only not in France. Try Romania. Also, add the nationalist attitude. -- CosminApreutesei

Successful software development for lots of projects (all of the interesting ones!) is inherently a social activity. The required intensive collaboration is not possible via Internet or phone calls to a very different time zone. -- NilsKassube

Is the hype about open source fading?

IBM just poured a cool $1 billion into Linux development. Having followed open-source since the 1980s, I can tell you open source is growing faster than ever. along hosts (as of September 2003) 68,286 projects and serves 709,047 registered users and developers. While this includes a large number of defunct projects and inactive users, the rate at which new projects are added and new developers are signing on is still increasing, according to recent announcements.

And remember that Sourceforge is just one of several similar hosting services (such as, although probably the biggest. Sun's StarOffice is about to kill MicrosoftOffice, etc. etc.

In which parallel universe is that happening?

In Europe, we now start seeing companies and public institutions skip MicrosoftWindows altogether because of the license fees - instead they go with Linux, saving fortunes.

On the student availability of commercial tools

Yes, there are good student deals on someof the developer tools. My beef with the Microsoft route (and not just MS) is that students can't afford to do it properly. You will need books and courses if you're going to do more than play with their technology. Whenever I looked at the MS option I always found that it cost me something, and it was going to go on costing me. Fine if you're on a salary. I wasn't. I'm not particularly bothered about the principles of OpenSource, but it is one way to demonstrate that you can 1) actually code and 2) that you have a decent coding style. Both points might be important in a programming job ;-)

One could probably write entire books about the MicrosoftTestingScam?. It used to be only hardware and software went obsolete, but with Microsoft's constantly-changing requirements, so does your certification. Only you can't donate your certification to an inner-city school It's almost enough for me to GiveUpOnComputers.

I disagree that "you will need books and courses" to learn Microsoft Windows development. A good book or two will help, but the most important thing is to actually do it for real, and discuss what you find with other people doing the same thing (one good resource is the Windows Programmers' Mailing List at Specific technology coursework is good for two things: getting certifications, and shortening the time it takes to learn the basics. Real, grok-level understanding is achieved by actually using the technologies "in anger", not by taking classes.

On Positioning Your Intended Behavior

In this job market, programmers with 8 years experience are a dime a dozen. The recruiters know they can hold out for an exact match.

The secret words are "test" and "maintenance".

The industry is glutted with disposable code slammed out by CowBoys and Girls. Shops must now beat value out of this crud, instead of doing it the old way - rewriting from scratch. That's where you come in.

You do not pitch ExtremeProgramming or any buzzwords during the interview. But you lecture them on the rudiments of AssertionsForLegacyCode, UnitTestingLegacyCode, RefactorLowHangingFruit, and FixBrokenWindows.

You let them know you will automate tests on their legacy code without tossing its investment. You let them know you will make the code safe for new features. You even let them know you are more reliable than the out-sourced cowboys they replaced their in-house cowboys with.

On the job, you will install a wiki on your own computer, and report every project detail you can think of there. You will negotiate the week's DoList? every Monday, estimate the items, and knock them off. And you will use only TestDrivenDevelopment.

Translating all these buzz-words into terms that tickle an agency, instead of sending them screaming, is left as an exercise for the user.

DesperationSmells, so JustGetAnyJob until you are able to find a good one.

Move to IndiaCountry. Doesn't help. IndiaCountry does not give work visas to foreigners. This is not entirely true. You may not procure a work permit on a traveler's visa. Permanent residents, however, may of course register.

Look for shady, flakey, or abusive employeers. If you can tolerate crap, you have a leg up on those who can't. (ManagementByKickingAss)

See AskTheHeadhunter, JobMarketAdvice, SpecializationIsForInsects


View edit of February 28, 2006 or FindPage with title or text search