How will the economy and the 'Obama effect' shape the IT job market?

What are the hot industries to work for in 2009? How will the economy affect the IT job market? In this Q&A we talk to Rob McGovern, founder of CareerBuilder.com and current CEO of the online job site JobFox, about his predictions for hot careers for 2009 and 2010.

What are the hot industries to work for in 2009? How will the economy affect the IT job market? In this Q&A we talk to Rob McGovern, founder of CareerBuilder.com and current CEO of the online job site JobFox, about his predictions for hot careers for 2009 and 2010.

For IT workers, this means focusing on employment at companies that work in the energy, financial and healthcare sector in the "new economy" and how IT professionals can position themselves for job security and better paychecks.

The Obama administration has said it will "hit the ground running" with what experts project to be a $700 billion job stimulus package. The new administration's goals are to create or save 2.5 million jobs over the next two years.

JobFox predicts that new jobs will come from increased oversight of the financial markets, increased investment in alternative and domestic energy projects, and modernization of the U.S. healthcare system.

What does the IT job market landscape look like?

Rob McGovern: I think that the world is bright for today's IT people, although I suspect there is a huge percentage of IT workers that are hunkered down today, thinking of themselves as corporate overhead. The reality is, the [Obama] administration will create a shift in priorities.

Being an IT person at an auto company might not be a great place to be, but working for a company that makes solar panels would be an awesome place to be.

How should the IT professional position himself for tomorrow's economy?

McGovern: This is the time to be tactically agile. What you want to be doing is applying your skills and capabilities to the most promising companies and opportunities. President-elect Obama has some priorities and he's getting a free pass from Congress to spend on those priorities.

Back in '91, nobody realized there would be companies like Google and Yahoo and Amazon. There have been some IT people who have made their careers there and the same thing will happen here. We'll have companies in the renewable energy sector that will become rock star companies.

Will skills in more recent hot technologies, such as cloud computing and virtualization, play into potential new jobs?

McGovern: If you're a person working on a cloud computing project for General Motors, you might want to be working on a cloud computing project at General Electric instead -- the company that is modernizing the electrical grid.

We'll also see increased IT jobs in the healthcare sector. One of the reasons why the healthcare system is so costly is because there's so little automation in it. When we go to the doctor, we're repeatedly filling out the same forms even when referred from other physicians. Bioinformatics, bringing efficiencies to the system, falls to IT people. IT people understand encryption and network security and data integrity. There are going to be a lot of careers made there.

In the press release, you mentioned that the new economy should create entirely new jobs. What kind of new IT-related jobs do you foresee?

McGovern: There are going to be new firms that come along. For example, SOX compliance came about after Enron. It created an entire industry of compliance accounting, including firms help businesses build internal software. If I'm an IT person I might not want to be working for a bank, but I might want to work for a company that is charged with helping the banks stay compliant with the regulations that are bound to occur as they re-regulate the financial industry.

Any final advice for IT job seekers?

McGovern: My general advice is to go to where the opportunities are. Find the Google and Amazon of the alternative energy world. If you were an IT person working for a savings and loan company in 1989, had you made the shift to go work for a company like Amazon, that would have been a really astute move.

Also, IT people have not had to try very hard in their job searches over the last decade. The net result of that has been that they've lost their edge. IT people's resumes and interviewing skills are horrible by general standards. Gone are the days when you can put one word on a resume -- C# -- and get hired. People will have to work on the fundamentals.

This was last published in January 2009

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