back to article Think you're ready to make a big career bet? Read this first...

Disclaimer: Before taking any of my advice be aware that I once bet my career on OS/2 and that in all my careers articles my ambition is to help you avoid some of the mistakes I have made. The Politburo at The Reg wants me to stick my neck out and show some trends in this “future” thing that young people seem so keen on nowadays …

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Pint

Contracting seems to be working here...

And as the salaries on offer for perm work are just insulting, I think it's where I'll stay for a while.

One sector I've noticed that never seems to dry up, ever, is embedded programming. Much of it now seems linux device-driver oriented, with QNX and bare-metal still pretty big. I've no idea if it's a growth sector, but there always seem to be roles available.

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Re: Contracting seems to be working here...

The QNX/Embedded/bare metal market does seem nicely stable.

I think that's because it has a decent barrier to entry, you can get started with most environments on your PC, hardware has a bigger first step.

http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/dominic-connor/68/429/56a/

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You can offshore hardware maintenance...

When you offshore the hardware. It will then also be using someone else's electrical power.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You can offshore hardware maintenance...

They still charge you for it.

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Pint

Re: You can offshore hardware maintenance...

Have you seen the state of India's grid and infrastructure. Any F100 firm that offshores hardware to the region is steered by morons.

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Re: You can offshore hardware maintenance...

Too true. But short-term greed almost always triumphs over intelligence. At least until someone gets hurt. No one can predict precisely when that might happen. So until then, the investors get their dividends and the executives get their bonuses.

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Anonymous Coward

Offshoring - killing prod support

very judiced view admittedly but the rush to cut the bottom line and offshore as much as possible of application support is killing people here in finance IT.

Every time a 'new paradigm' comes in, inbedded knowledge is lost - and please dont come back with 'you should have documented it better', there's no substitue for experience.

The only way I see surviving is either sucking ass ( morally reprehensable ) or getting closer to the BU and learning what the numbers actually mean rather than viewing them as a part of the process of moving them about.

Best of luck everyone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Offshoring - killing prod support

It may be useful to you to know that spelling check functionality is available in popular browsers.

Use of such may help you to avoid writing nonsense and inventing words that do not exist.

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There'll always be a future in security

In the good times companies spend more, so security budgets go up

In the bad times there's more crime about - so security budgets go up

The only problem is that if you're too successful, all the threats get dealt with swiftly and silently. That leads your boss, or whoever doles out the money, to assume that there are no security issues so they are likely to cut your job. The trick seems to be to stoke their paranoia and to find new and serious threats in every change the company makes. If you're really lucky, the MD will already be paranoid and will just need to hear good news stories about "the one that nearly got past you"

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Re: There'll always be a future in security

Good point, but don't worry about working yourself out of a job. For every one PHB that has an inkling about security, there are 100 that think the firewall needs to be done away with entirely as it prevents them from getting to all the really neat stuff. So, you will constantly have tickets open fixing things they have damaged. It isn't always fun, but it can be counted on.

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Re: There'll always be a future in security

Security is a moving target. The mere nature of all the security stuff means you'll rarely run out of work; especially if you go into the Identity/Access Management areas. Even the intrusion detection stuff gets some kind of upgrades or changes every couple of years...

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Most interesting

Thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

As always, enjoyable

I'm not sure I understand the bit about BYOD though. I thought that BYOD was all about being able to connect approved devices to the corporate Exchange Server (i.e. the smart blower you've bought, because your wonderful employer is too mean to provide something good enough for the job). Surely companies don't allow people to bring along their own PC or Mac and connect it directly to the corporate network?

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Re: As always, enjoyable

Yep - consumerisation of the work place, as it is being badged by marketing types is happening. Some of the teams at my biggest customer are bringing MACs and PC's and connecting to the corporate network via NAC. My place also has a strategy for this. This is any computing device and is seen in some circles as a way to reduce IT costs longer term.

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Pint

Re: As always, enjoyable

@AC 12:28

Yup.

Desktops not so much (but it does happen) but it's more common with laptops than you might think.

Yes tablets and phones get the most attention but it's WAY more common than you think that after Colin in Sales and three of the directors have spent a few months bitching it's suddenly

"They are using their macbook/ultrabook and X,Y and Z things aren't working properly. Why can't they put their 'bits they need at home' in this skydrive thing? Janice from other_major_firm we deal with sends my PA links to her email to a dropbox and everything is there, so they've all be sending stuff home for months and uploading it there. Jims iPhone 5 gets mail but mine doesn't, webmail didn't work when I was using my iPad at the golf club. By the way QA don't like that new CAD software but Derek bought something in from home he got off the net, his manager was going mental and he made IT_minion_1 cough up that pesky admin password thing......."

I could go on. BYOD isn't a flash in the pan, it's here. There's an ever growing percentage of folks who are (suddenly) happily spending a ton on the latest and "best" gadgets.

His boss just told him he's getting the budget galaxy ace android phone/blackberry and has to make his dell D620 last another 6 months or so. He has a brand new iPhone and macbook, an iPad, and a £99 android tablet he got before the iPad. All at home.

You bet he's spending the next 6 weeks whinging at his boss about how slow everything is, how much work he's having to do at home, evening and weekends. Guess what? People in teams all over the business atre doing this too. This means all those managers (who incidentally have forced IT_minion_1 to "make email work" on his/her iPhone and iPad already) arte whinging at directors. This means the IT director whinges at you and you're told, despite any obection you may raise, to make it all play together nicely.

don't forget "but we will save money" is a very powerful, seductive statement.

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FAIL

Re: As always, enjoyable

Blimey, my typing today makes it seem like I've already hit the beer.

I await an angry mob of pedants at my window.

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Re: As always, enjoyable

No place I've worked allows users to connect their personal PCs to the corporate network.

Ever.

They also have separate WiFi connects. One for visitors/personal PCs and one for corporate PCs and they are smart enough to know the difference.

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Re: ecofeco Re: As always, enjoyable

"....They also have separate WiFi connects. One for visitors/personal PCs and one for corporate PCs and they are smart enough to know the difference." We have some seriously rigid rules on security from an ex-CIO that actually knew his stuff. Not only do they mandate how we work, but also what data and connections we share with other companies. We have two wireless nets like you, one only for internal and one for external. Neither touches our core network and joining either is a request affair. However, as we share data with other companies, I get to see more and more companies offering direct wireless connectivity to their corporate LAN, which means Jack Black Hat, sitting in their carpark, can sniff his way in right through to their core systems. When I ask why they have built a major hole into their security the answer is BYOD. You'd be amused by the number that then get shirty when we put additional security on our links to them.

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Re: As always, enjoyable

This is something a little different. My customers and ourselves will still have seperate guest and corp WiFi.

By adding a NAC overlay to the LAN infrastructure we untrust all devices until user authentication takes place, before being trusted. This is pretty much the way BYOD works. A rogue black hat can't just rock up in the car park and gain access - that black hat will need to attack in the manner they always have in the past, they just get the luxury of sweet talking somebodies credentials out of them. Nothing particularly new here.

Guests will still be on the "dirty" side so they can still VPN into their own networks.

Just because you haven't seen it (yet), it will come to a work place near you given time.

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Happy

Re: As always, enjoyable

I myself will look forward to the reality of how BYOD will be adopted (read totally bodged and point missed) so that in fact a lot of companies will need a full time IT support person on each floor or dept to make it all work...kinda.

Looking forward to reaping that big time till sanity comes back and its all back to the standard approved kit support model.

This sort of stuff always goes in cycles.

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Timely

Thank you.

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Good Article

Thanks for sharing and quite informative from the Reg on a Friday afternoon! More of this type of thing!

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Pint

keeping your skills nearer the edge

The bit about "keeping your skills nearer the edge" is something that so many people fail to understand or bother with.

It always amuses me when you get people in their 40's/50's who get made redundant and are then shocked to find they can't get another job on the same salary, because after all their "years of experience" is all that should matter. Yes you have years of experience - of knowing very little.

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Re: keeping your skills nearer the edge

>It always amuses me when you get people in their 40's/50's who get made redundant and are then shocked >to find they can't get another job on the same salary, because after all their "years of experience" is all that >should matter. Yes you have years of experience - of knowing very little.

I hope that you still find it equally whimsical when, god forbid, it happens to you.

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Years of experience

The sort of experience that IS valuable isn't so much to do with languages or technical skills. After all, languages come and go, development environments likewise and programming fashions, too. Plus, it's never too difficult to pick up the latest fad since there's very little that's actually new or novel in most of them. Added to which, most interviewers can't distinguish whether "6 years experience of XYZ" means 6 years of implementing new and ever-expanding techniques - or just 1 year of experience, repeated 5 times over.

The sort of experience that good people accumulate is knowing which of a list of requirements should be implemented first, which are difficult and which are wrong. Also being able to spot a project that's going off the rails (and knowing how to get it back - or whether to just let it go) and how to handle work issues like conflicting priorities, how to meet you targets and still keep your weekends free and how to tell the boss, in the nicest possible way, that he/she is a complete 'kwit and you're going to do the project YOUR way as that's the right way to do it.

The problem is that none of this is ever brought up at interview and is difficult to put into a CV in a way that a callow, just-appointed team leader, trying to recruit for the first time would recognise as a good thing.

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Re: keeping your skills nearer the edge

Hmm, remind me to choose a new handle as mine seems to be stuck in the early 90's.

Heaven forbid that I might seem to be behind the times.

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Re: keeping your skills nearer the edge

>I hope that you still find it equally whimsical when, god forbid, it happens to you.

That's exactly my point - it won't happen to me because I'm someone who's prepared to focus on learning and keep my skills up to date as I go along. You sound like the sort of person the original comment applies to. Someone who is bitter at the idea that your years of experience are not as relevant as what you actually can (or cannot) achieve in real life.

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Anonymous Coward

"it won't happen to me"...

Dear Mr. 'it won't happen to me'. You sound like a guy who won't actually see the bus coming! Just accept life ebbs and flows and try and negotiate the best deal that you can at any time. There are countless techs at ex-firms from Excite to Enron who didn't see the bus coming either. Many were heavily invested in the success of the firm. Its not just about current tech skills, its also about protecting your nest egg...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Years of experience

"....most interviewers can't distinguish whether "6 years experience of XYZ" means 6 years of implementing new and ever-expanding techniques - or just 1 year of experience, repeated 5 times over."

What an understated point! My two-cents: If you always try and work at places where people are better than you, then I think you'll be less disappointed regarding the above statement. That may mean showing a little humility and modestly. But is being humble in IT a bad thing? Sometimes arrogance exists to hide underlying technical weakness...

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Bronze badge

Re: keeping your skills nearer the edge

>"it won't happen to me because I'm someone who's prepared to focus on learning and keep my skills up to date as I go along"

Obviously, the joys of being in IT in your 40's & beyond still await you. Good luck in keeping your ever expanding skill set up to date and relevant to what you actually do - or are just banking on doing what ever you did in your 20's for the rest of your career?

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Pint

Re: keeping your skills nearer the edge

I see it as graceful degradation. I can no longer be arsed keeping up with every fad and latest whizz-bang thing that comes along. I consciously decided in 2000 to hitch my wagon to one last technology wagon, previously having been a bit of a C++ /Java Oracle SQL jack-of-all-trades developer. So I chose Oracle-Siebel. Thats it. Nothing else since, lots of bank and government work. And there will be for years to come.

Will I be shocked at my lack of current knowledge when every single Oracle-Siebel implementation finally ends? Not really, I will also see it coming a mile off, it will take years to replace all these systems. And I'll be happily dribbling in my cocoa on some beach by then.

Every contractor reaching the age of 40 should just take on one final technology and hang on to it with a death grip, knowing when it finally runs out, they can retire.

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Pint

Re: Years of experience

Oh my dear god. I think you just bled my mind.

Have an upvote, and one of these:

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This is a disappointing comment thread. Is everybody really more concerned about the cancer they'll get when they visit the Martian seaside?

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Pint

Relying on bits of paper when recruiting

Not for me. From personal experience I tend to view these as certificates for managing to stay awake and off the booze for long enough to use your brain on exam day. My interviewees are subjected to "give me an example of a time when..." and "tell me about any work you've done which...", with a bit of on-the-spot testing of their technical knowledge (occasionally I even allow Google, because we live in the real world and being able to filter some of the rubbish you find on the internet is an important skill).

Beer because it's also part of the interview process.

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Boffin

Qualifications are not as important as you might think

Time and time again I have beaten off hundreds of other candidates when applying for jobs and why?

Because instead of saying stuff like "i have this bit of paper" i say stuff like "when i did X i proved I had Y skill which is what you are looking for."

I've spoken to a ton of managers that now refuse to entertain the idea of employing a junior developer who has as their main technical source of knowledge a comp sci degree simply because these people are not being taught how to write good code to standards and works with few bugs, the habit seems to be to teach students how to read books and surf the net whilst drinking a lot of beer.

Most people I have worked with have said that they often feel their degree wasn't exactly well spent time too.

It seems to me that a simple practical test is the way of the future.

And as for what to bet your future on ...

Go with the flow like all good IT staff do!

You work in an ever changing world in a faster changing industry and always have, you will only find yourself out of work when you fail to keep up with the times.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Qualifications are not as important as you might think

I found my comp sci degree to be very useful. Then again I was lucky to be taught programming by a professor that had much experience writing code for industry. The same cant be said for databases or software design which I had to learn from non course text books and open source code.

Many people on my course finished being able to write programs. The same cant be said for those on the electronics course who would struggle to put a circuit together. I blame the Doctoral teachers who had no experience building real world circuits for industry.

They would provide endless knowledge which had to be memorized and regurgitated in an exam. For example they would pointlessly teach all the variations of a multivibrator. S-R Latch, Gated S-R Latch, D Latch, Edge Triggered Flip Plops, J-K flip-flop, asynchronous flip-flops, monostable multivibrators. If a student was asked to build some memory for a microprocessor they would not know to attach a decoder and a tristate buffer to these basic memory cell units to build some memory. I just wished I had come across Tonys book before I started by undergraduate Systems Engineering Degree. The Art of Electronics by Horowitz & Hill is difficult to learn from.

Many wonder why we have no electronics industry in the UK. The companies we have are basically putting components together from Japan. Then they cry about the exchange rate to cover their shortcomings.

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Joke

Re: Qualifications are not as important as you might think

" I have beaten off hundreds of other candidates"

Nice to hear that Rent Boys can make the transition to IT smoothly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "teach students how to read books"

Oh, if only a respectable proportion of graduates were actually capable of reading books, my life would be so much easier, and the world would be a much better place.

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Anonymous Coward

Being an IT guy but not talking like one... &... The art of bluffing...

Technical skills are always crucial. But there is another aspect not mentioned on the list and its something that comes naturally or you must work at and its this... I've won a fair share of contracts and positions based on being IT rusty but highly-articulate. I use those words because having communication-skills like the definition of history, can mean different things to different people at different times.

The business side often needs a tech guy who can communicate well with them. This means whatever you want it to mean, but for example it can mean that you can break things down using analogies and stay well away from jargon when you're in round table meetings etc. This is highly prized and can net you jobs over other candidates that are more qualified. I've taken lots of career breaks in downturns or with IT boredom, and so I've had to leverage this to cover up gaps so to speak.

Getting work is a huge skill in itself. My ol' man was a corporate executive, entrepreneur and later consultant who'd be asked to pre-screen executives. He once interviewed John Rusnak and told them 'do not hire this guy whatever you do'. Mr. Rusnak later went on to help AIB lighten its wallet to the tune of half a billion. What I learned from watching my ol' man work is there is an element of bluffing to the hiring game i.e. making hiring managers believe you are their hire over the others waiting outside. That applies even if you're not the guy, or not the guy at the time but you are willing to graft and become their guy. In short, always get offered the job, or as he put it, never turn down something you haven't been offered yet! Having several offers on the table always helps in negotiating pay and terms...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Being an IT guy but not talking like one... &... The art of bluffing...

the hardest part is knowing how much to lie. you have to lie at least 3% of the time. but if you lie 6% of the time you might get caught.

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Re: Being an IT guy but not talking like one... &... The art of bluffing...

I agree with the OP, but have never found a need to lie. Best way to bluff is keeping your mouth shut, let the person who is talking about the thing you don't understand talk, listen, nod, and encourage them. Most people will assume you know what they do. If you get asked something outside your knowledge, just admitting you aren't an expert, but "think it works like this" or "but here's how I might approach it" can disarm a lot of problems up front. And better yet, "I'm not an expert on that, but Frank is. Frank, how's it work?" and then translating works wonders.

If you view your job as empowering the boss to make good decisions and get his/her shit delivered on time, a lot of good things fall out naturally. Understanding the business, having good general problem solving skills, and being able to explain tech to business and business to tech lets you be valuable even if the underlying tech is changing.

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Re: Being an IT guy but not talking like one... &... The art of bluffing...

Yeah being honest and open with the customer is something they really appreciate (amazing eh!). Plus being able to explain things in concepts they understand is vitally important. Most customers go into a IT meeting expecting to be totally mind-blown so will either go "Shields up!" or just "Eyes closed!"

In my role of IT Relationship manager I've had to subtly take over many a presentation that is just going over the horizon. "Okay I think what Gary is trying to say here is..."

If you make them realise you are not giving them the BS they trust you and you become the trusted partner. When you get to this level of relationship the customer doesn't mind so much any negatives or issues that crop up as they feel there is still a level of control and they are still getting the best advice and decisions made. They don't have that feeling in their gut that "something just doesn't seem right somehow!"

Plus on launch day there are no surprises.... Customers hate those kind of surprises.

"What do you mean it doesn't work with our E-commerce platform?"

If you are having to lie to a customer then you really aren't doing your job properly.

As one of my customers said when I left my last relationship role -

"Oh Christ what do we do now? You were the only one of them that spoke any sense that we could understand!"

I kept the email as a reference.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: paper trend

You are right many people with First Class degrees from the Top universities would struggle to program or solve a real world problem.

It depends on who you are tought by. The best professors teach the basic building blocks and problem solving skills. Then in industry you are able to program whatever problem is thrown at you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: paper trend

Seriously, you're an experienced IT bod and you're thinking that undercutting graduate salaries is a good way to go?

It seems you haven't been all that successful in the field really...

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re: persecution

like it or not the percentage of autistic people in society has been growing for decades and they must

MUST be accommodated.

They should be given the good careers and futures that we ALL deserve, not sidelined and marginalized for a perceived deficit.

by hook or by crook these people will make their way into mainstream society, and anyone who has a problem with that better get their fucking act together before their are less of them than the "weirdos".

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Anonymous Coward

@ Alpha Klutz

Maybe you would see better employment prospects if you were to learn to write in sentences.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: re: persecution

To paraphrase a learned AC's popular comment above:

"business ... often needs a tech guy who can communicate well"

Communication is key to success.

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Re: re: persecution

I sometimes think that the most valuable course I did at school was Drama.

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Flame

persecution of autistic people is a big trend in IT now

It used to be that IT was the one profession where autistic people could catch a break, but now they are slowly being weeded out, to be replaced with the more socially acceptable "normals", even if they do crappier work (and by any rational account they do), they have that all important quality of "not being slightly weird" which is all HR people give a shit about these days. highly talented people with high IQs are getting shit canned left right and center because of how ignorant our world is. think about that when the lights go out and you wonder "where are the smart people to help us now???"

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