Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Job Market / Tech Industry

As I've now been unemployed / self employed for several months now, I've put a lot of thought into expanding and/or changing my career direction.

I've done many different roles in the IT field, but I've always been primarily a Web Application Developer. Sure I've done PC support, network setup, server setup and support and the list goes on but I've always been classified as a Web Application Developer for the past 10 years. Being a Web Application Developer has meant many things and been many projects over the years. Web services, ecommerce, security, photo editing, social media, blogs, podcasts, inventory systems, PDF scanning, system automation, file management, project management, database designs, etc. You name it and I've done it in one way shape or form, and always the primary language of choice has been ColdFusion.

ColdFusion can do almost everything the other languages can do just as good if not better and faster. In the past I've always had the ability to use ColdFusion because it was available to me where I worked so why do it in any other language than the one I can do with my eyes closes?

However, ColdFusion has 2 major flaws being that it isn't cheap and it isn't well advertised.
When I say that it isn't cheap I mean that ColdFusion hosting is typically more expensive to buy, and it is also more expensive to purchase $2000 worth of ColdFusion software if you are setting up your own server.
What I mean by advertising is that you can't exactly goto most colleges and find courses teaching ColdFusion. If you look at the last 10 years of tech learning, you will find Microsoft .NET and related Microsoft products being sold and taught by the dozen. You'll also find JAVA and PHP more lately because they are good languages but first and foremost.. they are free.

All of that said, combined with my current job searching dilema, I decided to do some quick number crunching to help my figure out where I should go from here. The numbers displayed here are the results of all jobs posted within the last 60 days on that are still actively listed as of today:

Language Wisconsin Nationwide

Now keep in mind that I'm fairly certain Monster removes jobs if the company asks for it and also if the time payed for is expired, but these are still valid numbers if you look at it as a very rough view of the tech market.

As you can see based on the numbers. My ColdFusion skills are not exactly coming in very handy. I certainly have the ability to learn any of these languages. In fact I have dabbled in all of them at some time or another but I'm not interested in having 20 programming languages on my resume that I'm only semi good at. And to make things more complicated, shouldn't I find the job before picking the language? I could invest the next few weeks into learning to be better at Java, only to find a job that wants me to be more skilled at PHP.. and so on. Needless to say, working the tech industry can be difficult and stressing on any programmer. Especially in a job market recession.


Connick said...

You need to look past the languages's not what it's about anymore. It's not so much a job recession as it is a fundamental shift. Programming is a commodity which means it will flow to the lowest bidder. Instead, more focus is needed on the creative aspects of product development. Not just what's hot but also has growth opportunity. If you've got a handle on that it will be the difference maker.

What's hot is mobile/device development.

Connick said...

Ah so difference makers:

1) Know how to apply html5 advances in the context of mobile.
2) Flash 10.1 and more importantly, AIR mobile will allow you to get a jump start in this space.
3) iPhone development is being flooded but still opportunity if you can carve a niche.
4) Android, BlackBerry development (AIR or otherwise) will give you an edge in the enterprise space.

Connick said...

p.s. great talk

Connick said...

p.p.s. awesomeness:

Alan Quinlan said...

Very good points. The mobile market still has me confused.

Being someone who doesn't own a smartphone I still lack the ability to comprehend what anyone does with it all day.

Do I want a smartphone? Sure, just as much as I wanted a netbook that is currently a paperweight on my desk.

What would I rather browse the web with? My pc on a 24" screen, or a tiny screen on a smartphone who's battery life still only lasts 8 hours at the most.

I would LOVE to get a Nexus One right now. But I know that all I would do with it is occasionally take pictures and google up some quick info while at a bar.

The most popular mobile apps are facebook, google, and youtube. Which really are just light versions of their websites.

Thus the only mobile market I can think of that would be useful is making sure that your website has a mobile version.

Hence my "I don't get it".

Connick said...

You're thinking in terms of "you" ...and in that sense, sure probably wouldn't have much use for mobile apps. If you think in terms of business, there is a ton of opportunity. Forrester analysts note that in 2010, upwards of 45% of the workforce will want/have access to information/functionality on their mobile device. What functionality? That will come when you've got your head in that space.

I remember back in 1996 when my boss said, "this internet stuff is a fad, I don't want you spending time on this crap".

These forces of change don't fade, they simply evolve and morph into new spaces over time. Currently that space is mobile.

Alan Quinlan said...

But see the internet is still the internet.

I became a web developer so that I could develop software that could be used everywhere on anything with a browser.

This was clearly the right path as applications over the last 10 years have greatly migrated to online instead of pc/software based. To run in the browser.
(google search, google apps, google reader, gmail, gtalk, google calendar, youtube)

This was a step in the RIGHT direction. These "mobile apps" seems like a large step backwards.

We used to only have complications when we had Windows, OSX, Linux.

Now there is Windows, Windows Mobile, OSX, iPhone OSX, Android, Chromium, AIR, Blackberry, etc. All different platforms.

Were I a company wanting to extend my product/service into the mobile market, I could

1. Design and develop an application for each mobile platform, and then continue to have to support each one.
2. Develop a single web based application that runs on all platforms in the browser.

Other than saying "yes I can develop a website for a 480x320 smartphone resolution". What is this "mobile market" and why would I want to take a step backwards into developing platform based software?

Connick said...

There's a lot more to the mobile space than simply squeezing a site onto a smaller screen. And btw, its not about throwing away everything you've done for 10 years man ...but jesus you need to extend and expand on what you have. Either that or take a shot at starting something yourself!

I'm only highlighting what's happening in the market right now. How you feel about it personally is your own thing. The point I'm driving at is you need attributes to differentiate yourself from the pack. Mobile expertise should be on your list.