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Posted: 9/26/2002 7:40:13 AM EDT
[url]http://careers.usatoday.com/service/tap/local/content/news/jobhunt/2002-09-26-resources-dry-up[/url] Resources dry up as joblessness drags on By Jon Swartz, USA TODAY SAN FRANCISCO — Harry Strout never imagined he would work at a consumer-electronics store. Not after more than 20 years as a telecom engineer at Merrill Lynch, Kaiser Permanente and Pacific Bell. Not with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's in business administration. And not after several years as a consultant. But after a year of unemployment — during which he sent more than 1,500 resumes — he took a job this month at RadioShack for $6.75 an hour. "I had to make a living," Strout, 61, says. "I don't think of this as an ignoble experience." Nor does Anna O'Neil, 28, a fresh-faced public-relations specialist. She impulsively moved to Silicon Valley from Atlanta in 2000 to join dot-com start-up Bigstep. She has managed a San Francisco restaurant for 10 months, having been laid off by Bigstep in 2001. "I'm used to a paycheck, and my insurance ran out," she says.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 7:40:50 AM EDT
Strout and O'Neil are the lucky ones. They have jobs. Nationwide, the number of people who have been jobless for long periods has risen to its highest level since 1994. Almost 1.5 million people have been out of work for more than six months, up 80% from a year ago, the Department of Labor says. Especially hard hit: workers in telecom and tech, two fast-growth industries of the 1990s that have since suffered unprecedented downturns. The long layoffs are having a big impact — on individuals and the economy. Some wages in Silicon Valley are declining for the first time in a decade. Silicon Valley bankruptcies are rising. More tech and telecom workers are shifting industries, as did workers before them in the auto, oil and aerospace industries. That could deplete the talent pool when tech and telecom rebound. Many of the unemployed have borrowed money and dipped into their savings, which could weaken their financial standing for years. For some, life without a steady paycheck is pushing big lifestyle changes and feelings of self-doubt. In the tech-heavy Silicon Valley, "It's the worst long-term unemployment I've seen in 20 years," says Patti Wilson, a career counselor. The elimination of nearly 320,000 jobs this year in computers, telecom and e-commerce, the aging workforce and globalization have combined to make long-term unemployment more likely for more people, says UCLA economics professor Tom Lieser. In Santa Clara County — the epicenter of Silicon Valley — the jobless rate was 7.6% last month, down from a record 7.8% in July and up from 1.7% less than two years ago. Close behind: telecom-heavy Dallas, with a 7.2% jobless rate in July — its second-highest in a decade. The jobless include all types: software engineers who in previous downturns were still highly sought after, youngsters who dived into the exploding dot-com market, and older workers who did the same. "It's extremely difficult out there," says Rene Manzo, 45, a network engineer laid off by Global Crossing in July 2001. "There are too many people competing for jobs, and employers are looking for incredibly specialized applicants." The resume 'black hole' For younger workers, this might be their first run at unemployment. For those in their 40s, 50s and 60s, the job search is complicated by the fact that they may be too experienced for many jobs and scare employers, who fear they would just jump when the economy picks up. For all, the market is dismal. Hires of high-tech workers plunged 27% to 834,727 this year, says trade group Information Technology Association of America. David Levine, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, notes that 2001 was the first time a tech downturn and a recession occurred at the same time. Most tech analysts don't expect a tech rebound until next year or 2004. Some companies are going through multiple layoffs. Bankruptcy filings in telecom have claimed dozens, including heavyweights WorldCom and Global Crossing.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 7:41:21 AM EDT
As a result, job seekers are: Looking longer and harder. The typical job search for tech workers is now about six months, compared with three months a year ago and three weeks during tech's heyday two years ago, says Mike Freccero, a managing director at recruitment firm Spherion. "I used to get responses to my resume. Now, it's a black hole," says Betty Fellows, 52, a software-support specialist who has been jobless for 16 months. She has applied for more than 100 jobs. Duffy Jennings, 55, former vice president of communications for e-commerce site Fogdog Sports, has been unemployed for 21 months. He applied for dozens of jobs, e-mailed his resume to more than 200 recruiters nationwide, sent letters to dozens of San Francisco Bay Area CEOs, networked, talked to career counselors and contacted companies in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Portland, Ore. His efforts have yielded only three interviews. "I've gone from feeling I could work anywhere to frustration and resignation," he says. The longer someone is unemployed, the more difficult it can be to get hired. "Employers think there's something wrong with you," Fellows says. Lowering expectations. Those who do find tech jobs are willing to take less pay and fewer perks. "Say goodbye to stock options, free lunches and massages," says Tamara Shetler, 34, an unemployed public-relations specialist laid off by Gateway in January. Last year, the average wage in Silicon Valley declined for the first time in a decade — 2% to $76,800 — and could be depressed further this year by the tight job market, says Mike Curran, director of the North Valley Workforce Board. Jennings made $12,000 last year — from consulting. It was his lowest salary since 1967. At Fogdog Sports, he pulled down a six-figure salary plus bonus and stock options. Changing lifestyles. Thirty-five thousand dollars. That's how much Linda Laubenheimer, 41, owes credit card companies since she lost her job as a systems administrator at software firm Nominum more than a year ago. Calls from creditors have grown so persistent that one of Laubenheimer's annoyed roommates recently bought an answering machine. "I get by sweating the rent and mooching," she says. For some, prolonged unemployment could have a deep financial impact that shadows them for years. Strout has burned through more than $20,000 in retirement savings. "There went some of my nest egg," he says. Jennings is considering selling his San Francisco Bay Area home and moving into a condominium. His wife, Faye, is working extra hours as a nurse. Bankruptcy filings in Santa Clara County and three nearby counties rose 12% through July this year from the same period last year. Most were by individuals. Changing careers. In previous downturns, many of today's unemployed tech and telecom workers were able to switch to healthier companies in those industries. But much of the tech and telecom sectors seem to be contracting at once this time. That has forced some to ditch high-tech careers for lower-paying jobs as cab drivers, bartenders, teachers and department store clerks. Cecil Lee, 39, finds himself in that position. Since he bolted Intel in early 2000 to join the dot-com craze, he's been laid off twice — the most recent time in early 2002. Now, the former network manager — who has a business degree emphasizing information systems — is ready to apply for a job as a supermarket checker and security guard. "I need a job — any job — for the income and benefits," Lee says. Manzo, the former Global Crossing engineer, is contemplating cutting hair. He owned two salons in his native France.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 7:41:51 AM EDT
Lowered expectations Many of the tech jobless are eyeing the booming real estate market. Jennings is studying for a Realtor's license, as is Pacita Dimacali, 53, a former marketing communications manager for Sprint in Dallas. "High-tech has a stigma," Shetler says. She has applied for a job in video production, where she has experience in foreign documentaries. "People are willing to grab a low-paying job of any kind — even if temporary — instead of holding out for the dream job as they did in the late 1990s," says Priscilla Azcueta, vice president of Manpower Staffing Services in San Jose, Calif. The lowered expectations of the unemployed and the dreary job outlook often lead to feelings of personal and professional self-doubt and alienation, causing strained relations and — in some cases — illness, the workers say. Many tech workers were accustomed to being treated as prize recruits. Now, they get rejection letters. "You have to take care of yourself mentally and physically to battle these demons," says Jennings, who concedes his prolonged job search has put a strain on his marriage. "The emotional swings I've gone through have been unbelievable," says Kris Strittmater, a former software-marketing manager who spends four to six hours a day researching job Web sites. "I call this time in my life the roller-coaster ride from hell — up, down, rejection, anger, depression, hope, fear — you name it." Manzo is more resigned: "It's a very slow life."
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 8:52:51 AM EDT
Yep, this article is right on. This has been my life for the past 3 months. SUCKS!
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 9:36:39 AM EDT
For those companies contracting out their IT work, we will see. IT software must be changed to reflect current bussiness conditions and goverment regulations, after many changes by people who don't give a $hit(i.e. contracting companies) they will end up buying new software because it will get to point where it will unmanageable, and that new software has to be changed to fit the company, of course if there is anybody left that knows how do it all. Of course when the IT industry returns, I will have very little sympathies for those companies. They will just be muddling along
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 9:50:38 AM EDT
Not with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's in business administration.
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and he wants an IT job? In this area if you have or can get a TS/SCI clearance you can find quite a few jobs. If you cant... well IT aint what it used ta be.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 10:03:16 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/26/2002 10:07:25 AM EDT by NukeThemTillTheyGlow]
I have been on the vendor/sales side of IT working for various software companies around the country for over 13 years. IT is just not buying right now and therefore the trickledown is that software companies are going out of business, laying off and not hiring. This is by far the worst job market I have ever seen since college 20 years ago. But all of the excesses and phoney, non profitable companies that have been propped up with all of the VC funding have only made it worst. So the pendulum has swung far in the wrong direction, but it will slowly come back I am sure..But probably never to where it was 2-3 years ago. Hell, 2 years ago I had 3 job offers and could have found more with no trouble. Just way to much hiring and buying..now we pay the price.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 10:19:05 AM EDT
OT - Yep, the whole economy is going to hell in a hand basket. Witness the Dow Jones and the NASDAQ stock indexes, they are way down. BUT I could see that even before the downturn in the stock market. My nieghbor repairs Hunter wheel alignment machines when all thumbs car mechanics break them for the automotive industry; and he is working 10 hours per day 6 days a week for least the past 6 months, and he recently added a new truck and brought in 3 more people into his little company. Anyways, when there is a looming recession, people keep their cars longer. My personal opinion, better hang on to your hat, because personally I think it is going to get worse before it gets any better, despite what the Feds and Alan Greenspan says.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 10:27:36 AM EDT
I just got a call from a head hunter. Go into Quality. "The profession that never sleeps".
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 10:37:10 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/26/2002 10:38:34 AM EDT by trickshot]
This is bs. While the IT job market is not what it was, it is still easy to find work if you are *qalified*--a BS in chemistry and a worthless MBA degree do not qualify you. Neither does being a "fresh-faced PR specialist." These educated nimrods were in demand during the boom because startups needed warm bodies for office work and "light" IT duties. They were never the professionals who actually get the coding done and solve the big problems. There is a collective myth about "computer" jobs that just isn't true and never was. I guess "impulsively" moving anywhere is not a good idea, but the gold rush of 1849 taught us that... I won't bother aping the other sad tales in that article, they're all the same--people who thought they could just jump into IT after getting an MCSE or some other quickie certification.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 10:53:33 AM EDT
Originally Posted By trickshot: I won't bother aping the other sad tales in that article, they're all the same--people who thought they could just jump into IT after getting an MCSE or some other quickie certification.
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A search of dice revealed 314 jobs containing the word MCSE. If it's a quickie why don't you have it? Every little piece of paper helps. Don't BS yourself into thinking otherwise.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 11:19:43 AM EDT
Originally Posted By trickshot: This is bs. While the IT job market is not what it was, it is still easy to find work if you are *qalified*--a BS in chemistry and a worthless MBA degree do not qualify you. Neither does being a "fresh-faced PR specialist." These educated nimrods were in demand during the boom because startups needed warm bodies for office work and "light" IT duties. They were never the professionals who actually get the coding done and solve the big problems. There is a collective myth about "computer" jobs that just isn't true and never was. I guess "impulsively" moving anywhere is not a good idea, but the gold rush of 1849 taught us that... I won't bother aping the other sad tales in that article, they're all the same--people who thought they could just jump into IT after getting an MCSE or some other quickie certification.
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I seriously disagree with your opinion. I know several people that have maintained some of the largest data centers in the nation. They can't so much as get a call for an interview. The biggest problem for finding work is that for every job posting, there are litterly thousands of applicants. When I spoke to an HR manager for a local company who was looking for someone to design, build, and maintain their entire network as well as design, build and maintain their entire domain structure, she said that she received 800 emailed resumes the first day alone. She mentioned that if they had kept their fax machine on, they would constantly be adding paper for days on end. This was all for a position that was going to pay $30 - 35K per year. A couple years ago, that same position would be paying above $70K per year. Another local company said that when they placed their ad, they received so many replies that it took them over a month to sort through all of them just to find out which ones to interview. Fortunately they had the time to do that, as the position was for an upcoming contract and didn't need to be filled right away. Being one applicant out of thousands is very small odds, regardless of how "qualified" you are. You are also competing against people that will offer to take the job for much less than the position was initially designed for. An employeer has a lot more options then they have ever had before.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 1:58:05 PM EDT
I am now into my 6th month of job searching after a layoff. The few that do respond take months and then state that they have had several hundreds and sometimes thousands of applicants for the same job. Once I gain employment again I will never ever say that work sucks, it sure beats the hell out of the alternative. Unemployment really sucks.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 2:29:38 PM EDT
Hey, it is rough, but there are jobs to be had. I am working for a pharmaceutical company, and may be out of work before another 12 months goes by. I am getting my CCNP cert next month and will be moonlighting as a consultant in the evenings just to assure myself of work. When I leave where I am at now, I will be working for myself. Low overhead and no management or middleman to soak up the profits. Yes, when the boom was going, it was easy, but if you are as good as you think you are, you will find a way to make it and do well. You may have to relocate, but you do what you have to do. dave
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 2:53:35 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 3:05:47 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 82ndAbn: Why don't people look for work in the Health Care industry?
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Because of all those dang sick people you have to deal with. It's like being LE, they have to deal with less the charming company sometimes. I don't want a job where people will spit on me, or throw their bodily fluids/solids at me.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 3:18:28 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 3:22:54 PM EDT
Originally Posted By fustercluck: I am now into my 6th month of job searching after a layoff. The few that do respond take months and then state that they have had several hundreds and sometimes thousands of applicants for the same job. Once I gain employment again I will never ever say that work sucks, it sure beats the hell out of the alternative. Unemployment really sucks.
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Damn, sorry to hear that. 3.5 months here. And yes, it really does suck. The only thing keeping me going is my wonderful 4 month old daugther and taking care of her.....and my wireless laptop so I can read ar15.com! LOL Oh yeah, and my wife who has a good "steady" job and is keeping the ship afloat.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 3:41:18 PM EDT
Yeah it sucks. I have the A+ and a certificate in Digital Computer Technoogy. Had them since Dec. 1999 and still no job. The first 18 months of searching was more like discrimination rather than experience. I've seen less qualified persons hired over me simply because they can hear. They always tell me they need someone to use phones when all I really need is a start as a bench tech or so. I know it's bull. Once I brought up the word discrimination to my job placement counselor, she says, "no, no." If they wanted to be able to communicate with me, I can use a handheld communicator instead of a phone. I too wanted to get MS certs but I never got a job that would have given me experience or the money to get them. I get by part-time landscaping and freelancing as a PC tech for friends and family.
Link Posted: 9/26/2002 4:10:09 PM EDT
It really is tough out there! I work in telecom, and our city has reduced its workforce by nearly 80%(!) in the last year. I'm really lucky to even have a telecom job right now. However, since my education is in EE and not telecom, I've been thinking of going back to my original career that ended when Klinton got elected and the Cold War ended: working for a DOD contractor. They have already called wanting to know if I want to come back, and I told them "maybe". If/when IT and telecom rebound, I'll be sitting very pretty where I am. If not, well, I think we'll have plenty of hi-tech defense spending for the forseeable future. It would be fun to chase electrons again...
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