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10/5/2003
05:00 PM
John Soat
John Soat
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IT Confidential: Is Glass Half Full, Half Empty, Or All Wet?

I was raised in Flint, Michigan, and now live in San Diego after a career in the Navy. I am currently attending ITT Technical Institute. Having just finished my Associate's Degree in Computer Networking Systems, I am continuing to get my Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems Security. Please tell me what you think. I feel I am on a good track, but being 49 years old, do you think I will be hirable in the near future?" This is the sum total of an E-mail I got last week. What should I tell this guy? Should I tell him that many people feel there's no future in an IT career? Should I cite some statistics on offshore outsourcing? Or should I point out recent predictions that say the IT job market will open up again when the baby boomers begin to retire. But then, based on his E-mail, he is a baby boomer. Got any advice, or a job possibility? Send it to me, and I'll forward it along.

Ironically, I got another E-mail last week, from John J. Davis & Associates, a New York executive recruitment firm, with the subject line: "IT Job Market Stirs." In the past two months, the firm's principal, John Davis, wrote in his E-mail, IT management searches have been launched by a variety of companies across the United States. "Recruiters were hesitant to label it a pickup during the summer, but search firms have been fielding inquiries, IT executives have been getting interviews and offers, and hiring has begun again." So far there's no pattern, no particularly active sector, and no "hot" specialties being recruited for, Davis wrote. The pickup in IT hiring, according to Davis, is due in part to pent-up frustration of CEOs unhappy with their top IT executives: "Ironically, when the job market improves, heads will roll."

Office Depot created a new position, executive VP of supply chain, last week and tapped Mark Holifield, a company veteran, for the post. Holifield will have responsibility for all warehouse, way-station, and replenishment activities in North America and will report to another new position at the company: president, North America (as yet unnamed). Previously, Office Depot's 22 U.S. warehouses and 10 way stations that supply its North American retail stores reported to different organizations.

Mark Forman, who departed in mid-August as the feds' top IT officer, resurfaced last week in his new job: executive VP for an enterprise software startup, Cassatt Corp. Forman says the Cassatt job wasn't his only private-sector offer, by a long shot. When Forman's boss, then-Office of Management and Budget director Mitch Daniels, resigned last spring to run for Indiana governor, the unsolicited job offers really began to roll in, even though at the time Forman wasn't job hunting. As Forman recalls: "When Mitch announced he was leaving, I went to one dinner and I felt that I had a 'For Sale' sign on my head."

Would that work? It's certainly better than a "kick me" sign pinned to your back, which is what most IT people feel like these days. Nothing's better than an industry tip, sent to jsoat@cmp.com, or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about the IT job market, supply-chain imperatives, or the Washington revolving door, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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