The Recession’s Impact on IT Jobs

Jobfox CEO Rob McGovern, a 15-year veteran of the online recruiting industry, calls this the most tumultuous of times — since the dotcom bubble burst — for IT professionals.

“The IT sector remains one of the safest bets for job seekers,” McGovern told BM. “But some IT professionals are and should be nervous.”

McGovern was recently featured in a Network World podcast on the impact that the economic turmoil is having on IT careers. Although he believes that IT — along with health care — remains a strong career choice, McGovern warns that some pockets of IT expertise are holding up better than others.

“The obsolescence of skills is really the key issue for technologists,” he said. “If you have contemporary IT skills, you can probably work anywhere you want. If you have older skills — pre-Java, for example — your circumstances are more tenuous.”

What remains in demand, according to McGovern, are IT skills such as network security, mobile applications, VoIP, .NET, C#, Microsoft Silverlight and J2EE. Out are older programming languages such as C++ and network operating systems such as Novell NetWare.

“IT professionals should think about skills just like they think about new gadgets,” McGovern said. “Unless you stay cutting edge, you’ll be obsolete in a year.”

He urges IT professionals to take immediate steps to evaluate long-term career plans. Getting more education is one possibility. It may even make sense to take a pay cut to get on track with in-demand skills sets. Of course, IT professionals in stormy sectors such as banking, manufacturing, construction and retail, may have to consider moving into new industries.

“You have to make yourself a scarce commodity,” he advised.

In his Network World podcast, McGovern sheds more light on how the recession is impacting IT jobs and how IT pros can best protect themselves from pink slips. He also provides insights for employers.

“Many companies continue to hold the line on personnel. I think companies learned from the last recession that it’s incredibly hard to rebuild key teams. Employers are still waiting to see if this is a short-term economic seizure in the market or a long-term trend.”