Proactive career management: Page 2

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Showing the other side of the same phenomenon, long-established job categories such as systems programmers and application programmers saw the least growth because companies are usually well-staffed in these areas and there are many practitioners. In fact, the growth rates could largely be explained by normal turn-over.

Less obvious is that any rocketing new technology also fuels expansion in other business areas. Look at the growth in communications specialists and network experts. Not only does e-commerce require communications and networks, but "all these e-commerce areas have call centers," notes Elaine Erickson, vice president at New York-based executive search firm Kenzer Corp.

Successful e-commerce also requires new business models and processes that must be integrated with the old, explaining the increased need for business analysts and project managers. Even sales' and marketing's use of technical people has jumped enormously. Both job seekers and employers need to examine this "tag along" effect. Hiring managers with projections in e-commerce, for example, need to know how to make plans for the other positions that such business activity can create. Candidates for positions can think about repositioning themselves to take advantage of such related growth.

E-commerce is not the only factor fueling new IT jobs. In second place are jobs in the finance and accounting areas. This might come as a surprise until one remembers that the category includes enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. ERP software has been a corporate hot button with Y2K issues, and newly installed systems require experienced help as businesses try to wean themselves from consultants.

"We see a lot of these ERP systems," agrees Mark Bradley, a partner in The Landstone Group, a New York affiliate of Management Recruiters International. "Big IT consulting firms have done a lot of the implementation." Indeed, corporations have been leaning on consultants to get their ERP systems up and running. But as the systems have come on line, companies looking to control the applications in-house have phased out consultants and hired experienced help.

Close on the heels of finance and accounting is graphics and CAD/CAM listings, with a 70% increase from July to December 1999. Many manufacturing companies are expanding their use of CAD systems, integrating them with procurement software to let engineers and purchasing personnel review part and component requirements to more effectively order what they need.

In other words, with all of the e-commerce hype, it's easy to forget that businesses have other expanding needs. By moving into one of these quieter areas, smart employees can ride a wave that is noticed by fewer people, thus lessening the competition. Those hiring also have to remember that while e-commerce is in the news, other jobs can be just as important.

Another interesting trend is the drop in recruiter-offered positions. Job sites like dice.com have begun to replace the traditional recruiter; online, companies post ads and workers can post resumes. When employers and IT pros find each other on the Internet, it lowers the costs and increases the efficiency of corporate hiring. However, those who want new employment may lose out on the advice offered by recruiters. That increases the burden of understanding how to present yourself well in a resume, since this representation becomes the first--and often only--communication with a hiring manager.

Location, location, location

No matter what the national trends are, it's important to remember that conditions differ as locations change. Both job applicants and those hiring must be aware of the regional differences. Some areas, such as Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley, have been strong job markets in the past. And the growth of e-commerce has only increased the number of available positions. Venture capital firms, which fund new company growth, tend to settle in areas that are traditionally strong in high-tech employment. Web ventures also require creative services that can be found in the publishing pinnacle of New York or among the broadcast and movie experts in Los Angeles.

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