Gauging people's confidence in the economy and in their company's business can sometimes be amusing. Rarely do I hear anyone say things like, "Business is great, we're growing, revenue is up," or anything to that effect without a bit of nervousness or the obligatory knock on wood. That's not criticism. I've done it myself plenty of times.
But here's a bit of a wacky gauge of confidence: traffic. While I was out in the San Francisco Bay area last week, two people told me how good it felt to be in heavy traffic on Highway 101 again. It's a sign of a recovering economy--of more people making their way to their Silicon Valley offices that have had sparse parking lots over the past two years. Bring on the cars! That sentiment probably won't hang around too much longer as commute times increase, not to mention the price of gas. But for the time being, let's celebrate traffic!
Confidence in the IT job market will probably continue to require a few knocks on wood for a while, but here's a great bit of advice I heard from a business-technology executive that puts job stability into the proper perspective. "People who know how to do their jobs well will always have a job. But people who know why they're doing their jobs will always be the boss."
In other words, if you're a database programmer for a retail company, is your job to program databases? Or is it to serve the retail customers? If you're an infrastructure manager at an automotive company, is your job integrating complex networks or is it helping your company sell cars? How deeply IT is aligned with business goals and business processes will make all the difference in how you answer that question.