Living in the heart of silicon valley, I have seen the rise and fall of the dot-coms firsthand. In their heyday, the job market was an employees fantasy come true—opportunities included positions with everything from startups to companies that were long-standing icons of the computer industry. People were taking the best offers, and stock options were almost a must when companies were courting new employees.
With people blinded by the get-rich-quick hopes of landing a job with a pre-IPO startup, jobs with stable companies were being turned down or left because they could not match dot-com salaries coupled with the chance of profiting from high-earning stocks. But while some were milling around stock boards all day and dreaming of the type of house or car they would be purchasing, others were getting company-paid training in the latest technologies. They were the smart ones.
Now you can see dot-commers at pink-slip parties across the country, whining about how many companies have closed and the limited job availability. The reality is that a ton of jobs are still available in stable, growing companies, but the question is, what are you qualified for? While you are driving that soon-to-be-repossessed BMW and sipping that Starbucks latte, you might want to consider putting down the latest stock report and cracking open some books so you can update your skills to get a good job.
Company-paid certification in different technologies is the best way not only to keep a job but also to keep on the cutting edge for future job opportunities. Sure, there are people who benefit from years of hands-on experience with little formal education, but Ill bet the number of people who have bettered themselves with an education is more than triple that number.
Employers once again have the upper hand to hire and keep the best workers, without having to worry that they will jump ship to a startup or having to match a rivals higher salary. Now companies are focusing not on how to get venture capital but on how their products can surpass the competitions.
Being an optimist, I believe the present job market should benefit employees and job seekers by letting them improve their expertise and should help employers build solid companies with less chance of quick failure.