Career Central - 9

A brief compendium of the IT Workplace

Dampers on IT worker confidence

For the fourth month in a row, technology professionals have felt more confident in their jobs than the U.S. work force at large, according to the Hudson Employment Index for IT Workers, released July 5.

With a base score of 100, the IT index came in at 108.2, compared with the national index of 102.4. Despite these numbers, many IT pros are concerned about larger issues. To wit, reports claim that offshoring has primarily affected "low-end" jobs such as database administration, but techies are not reassured.

"Those in strategic positions feel good. Those that arent are worried, or at least not comfortable," said Steve Chase, executive vice president at Alphanumeric Systems, a technology solutions provider in Raleigh, N.C.

Other things on techies minds include a jobless tech recovery. A study released June 14 by the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois, in Chicago, said that the technology market is actually in a "jobless recovery," despite industry claims to the contrary.

The study argued that recent hiring in the IT industry reflects cyclical recovery in IT labor markets and not sustained secular growth, as just 76,300 new IT jobs have been added since April 2003. The number adds up to less than one-quarter of those lost during the recession, even though the recovery began more than five years ago.

Tweaking your tech résumé

Most résumé writers commit the same types of blunders: fussing over outdated rules, spending hours on a cover letter that might never be seen by human eyes, and leaving out essential keywords and supporting evidence.

Its important to be aware of ATSes (Applicant Tracking Systems), which parse résumé data into a database and search against it via keywords such as "MS Exchange" or "Java."

"[Recruiters] dont always instantaneously look at your résumé," Michael Turner, vice president of marketing at Atlanta-based ComputerJobs.com, told eWeek. The only time most recruiters will see your résumé in full is when they pull it up in a search.

To ensure that your résumé will get pulled up in as many relevant searches as possible, its important that job seekers use skills keywords. Keywords can be anything from industry buzzwords to specific skills.

The best type of skills summary is thorough and maximizes the number of applicable keywords. "You should have a skill summary with the number of years of experience you have with each. A lot of people use a three-column table. Again, keywords count," Turner said.

"A good way to determine keywords is to read job descriptions for positions that interest you. If you see industry buzzwords, incorporate them into your résumé," wrote Monster.com résumé expert Kim Isaacs.

Report: Some H-1B workers underpaid

A report filed June 22 by the Government Accountability Office, a congressional oversight agency, confirmed what many critics of the H-1B visa program have long maintained: Thousands of U.S. guest workers are being paid less than the prevailing wages for their jobs.

The report cites a lack of oversight and deficient quality control by the Labor Department for the underpayment of 3,229 workers between January 2002 and December 2005.

While the number of underpaid visas approved was only a tiny percentage of the 960,000 applications electronically reviewed, they were in clear violation of Department of Labor stipulations that all applicants are paid prevailing wages for their positions.

The GAO report found other inaccuracies in the H-1B applications they reviewed, including approximately 1,000 that contained erroneous employer identification numbers, raising questions about the validity of applications.

—Compiled by Deborah Rothberg

How to Pump Up Your Tech Résumé

ATS: These are the most important letters you need to know because almost all IT recruiters use ATSes to review résumés.

Use keywords in your skills section: Include anything from industry buzzwords to specific job skills to ensure that your résumé will get pulled up in as many searches as possible.

Dont use a template: Theyre tired and overused, and many leave out important sections such as a skills summary.

Lose the one-page-only rule: Its more important that you include as much work history and skills keywords as you can.

Avoid the personal: It will make your résumé look amateurish.

Cover letters are not critical: ATSes strip them out; use them only when applying directly to companies.

Dont spend 100 hours on it: Brainstorm, write it quickly and then let someone else edit it, taking a big break between each step.

Use common sense: Keep your personal life off MySpace, and assume that any potential employer will do a quick Web search on you.

Get a professional e-mail address.

Source: eWEEK reporting