You sit in job interview after job interview, chirping away about your mastery of C++ or Java or Cisco routers or whatever, but what you really want to do is blurt out, "Just how many layoffs have you guys had in the past year?"
Thankfully, Carol Covin has asked those questions--and many more, all of them extremely relevant--for you. In "The Best Computer Jobs in America," Covin, a 25-year IT veteran, has compiled a nationwide guide to companies that hire technology professionals. Its the latest in a series of regional guides that combine invaluable information about companies cultures with the hard facts about their technology infrastructures, hiring and layoff histories, and more.
While much of the company data delivered in the book is available online, this guide collates it in a fashion that makes it worth its weight in gold. For starters, companies are indexed by state, reflecting the avoid-ungodly-commutes-at-all-costs attitude that drove Covin to create the publishing company, Twenty Minutes Press, behind the guides. Thats 20 minutes as in, why spend more of your life than that to get to work? Its an idea that popped into Covins head one day when she was stuck in traffic as she was commuting to a client site. (For an interview with the author, click here).
Covin derived information about the profiled companies from magazine and trade publications ranking of the best places to work, including Industry Weeks list of 100 Best Managed Companies, Fortunes list of 100 Best Companies to Work for in America, and Computerworlds 100 Best Places to Work in IT. She surveyed the companies on these lists, posing questions that might be found in a typical interview, such as: describe a sample project; describe the technical environment, including hardware, languages used, software used, and communications gear; and list the business units that technical professionals support.
Beyond that, she asked the questions that job applicants would love to ask but cant, fearing that theyll be perceived as potentially uncommitted. Such as: What are your layoff policies? What are your benefits? What are the real hours? Is travel a requirement? How far do people typically commute? And, what is your dress code? She even went so far as to ask the typical grade point average a company seeks in hires.
The guide that resulted from this thorough investigation is a cheatsheet for all of you technical professionals who keep getting told to do your research, do your research, do your research. You know, because youve been told by countless career counselor and HR types, that when you sit down for an interview, you should already know about the industry your potential employer is in; you should know what systems the company is running; and, ideally, you should know what projects the company is grappling with and why it is only your skills and experience that can help the company slay whatever technology dragons its facing.
You know you should know that. But if youre like most tech pros, you probably dont do your homework. You probably plunk yourself down in that chair and start reeling off a list of languages and softwares that may or may not have anything to do with your potential employer.
If so, do your career a favor and flip through this book—preferably before you land your next interview.
- Title: The Best Computer Jobs in America
- Author: Carol L. Covin
- Publisher: Twenty Minutes Press (www.20minutesfromhome.com)
- Length: 280 pages
- Price: $18.95
Contact eWeek IT Careers Managing Editor Lisa Vaas at firstname.lastname@example.org.