This morning I was discussing an article from CIO.com by Patrick Thibodeau with my colleague Jack Santos. The article “IT Job Seekers Face Hot Yet Terrible Market” discusses how the IT job market is both hot and not, mentions effects from expectation inflation, and that it depends on location, location, location. The article sites a few examples that got me thinking, “Do employers create their own dilemmas through misplaced value?”
I’ve discussed job descriptions and job postings before and how it appears that we are asking for the wrong things. In fact, asking for the wrong things may create false scarcity. For instance, the article mentions Python experience moving from a “nice to have” to “must have”. Do employers compete for scarce resources because they set their sites on technical competencies over the skills that yield technical competency?
When I was in college, I studied different languages as part of my computer science degree. Learning another language was no big deal. Yes, there were different programming paradigms, but learning recursion in assembly language permitted me to know recursion in any language. Technology skills may be important, but understanding language concepts and the ability to learn was massively more important than knowing a particular language. (This is also why our Catalyst 2012 workshop “Career Survival Skills for Gearheads” focuses on the non-technical skills IT professionals need for survival).
I do understand that if given a choice, an employer would like someone with a particular skill over someone that had the ability to learn that skill. However, as we add more and more skills to the “must have” list, the odds decrease that you will find what you seek – the pool of people with all the “must haves” is smaller and smaller.
Are employers raising the bar artificially high?