Where not to find an IT job

Job seekers must learn how to use all of the tools at their disposal

IT job seekers shouldn't waste their time with help wanted ads or career fairs, according to recent research that shows those employment resources rank as least effective among human resource executives.

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Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas polled more than 200 HR executives in August to learn what approaches to job-seeking prove most effective. Job fairs and newspaper classified ads ranked as least effective, while networking, social networking sites and Internet job boards were rated as most effective by a majority of respondents.

Nearly half of those polled gave networking the highest effectiveness rating with social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter garnering high marks from 47 per cent of respondents.

Job fairs placed last with classified ads close behind, according to the outplacement firm that explained such resources are more geared toward potential employees new to the workforce.

"Job fairs are particularly ineffective in recessions. They are heavily attended by job seekers and lightly attended by employers," said John Challenger, CEO of the firm, in a statement. "Many of the employers that do attend are seeking very low-level workers, volunteers or unpaid sales representatives/franchises who have to be prodigious sellers to make a living wage."

Management recruiting firms and Internet job boards also ranked on the more effective side among those polled. Employer Web sites fell into the mid-range of effective ways to finding work.

"Job seekers must learn how to use all of the tools at their disposal, including networking, the Internet, newspapers, job fairs and even cold-calling employers," Challenger said.

And unemployed IT professionals may have more positions to choose from in the coming months, some research suggests. According to recent data from Foote Partners, the IT industry added jobs in July, after posting losses for five consecutive months.

As reported in Network World, IT jobs continued to be cut since February, with losses ranging between 3,000 and 11,000 per month. July marked a net gain of 7,400 IT jobs, which "is very encouraging news [and] maybe the turning point we have all been anticipating," said David Foote, co-founder, CEO and chief research officer at Foote Partners.

Forrester Research concurs, saying that IT departments had been operating with lean staffs through 2006 and 2007. The research firm assessed the U.S. IT occupation trends in a report earlier this year

"IT occupation employment growth was relatively modest in 2006 and 2007, especially in IT departments, which have been running lean with relatively limited 'fat' to cut in terms of staff," the Forrester report reads. "The 2.8 per cent in IT department staff growth in 2007 (the year before this recession started) contrasts sharply with the 9.2 per cent growth in 2000 (the year before the 2001 to 2002 recession)."

More recently Forrester found that staff cuts and pay decreases were being considered by a majority of IT decision-makers as an effective means of cutting IT operational expenses.

"IT staff salaries and benefits continue to be the largest part of the IT operating budget," the Forrester report reads. "Hiring freezes and layoffs top the list of actions that firms expect to take this year as a result of current economic conditions."

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Denise Dubie

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