Honest Advice for Job Seekers and Employers in a HOT Tech Sector

If you went to college, chances are you can find a job.  If you went to college and you know what you want to do, that certainly helps.  If you went to college, and you have at least an internship under your belt- you are in great shape.  If you went to college and you are a seasoned veteran in the technical realm- your phone is ringing off the hook.

It’s pretty amazing how hot the tech (and clean-tech) market is these days.  Every day I talk to people on both sides of the equation.  Employers are having a hard time filling highly specialized technical roles and candidates who have said background are turning their phones off on their way to dinner because they are getting so many calls.

This is all from a Colorado perspective.  If you start talking about the Bay Area, Washington, DC, NYC, Boston, and other Hubs of Geekdom, forget it.  It’s almost like the dot-com boom again with the war for talent.  Bring on the stock options, the playful cultures and the private concerts by big name performers…not to mention multi-six-figure incomes for the best-of-the-best.

By my assessment- after ten years of being the one of the best barometers of the market-unemployment is close to 2-3% MAXIMUM in the Computer Sciences, Information Technology, and Engineering realms.  Perhaps less than that, and my take is the remainder of those folks don’t actually want to work or are unemployable (read, bad attitudes or egos this size of Rhode Island).

So, what does all this mean?

First, from an employers perspective- get it together and make a decision quickly on a candidate you like.  If you dither, you WILL lose your top candidate(s) to your competition.  I have seen it happen time and again over the past few months, and my colleagues have too.  Dont mess around- make a GREAT offer and make it quickly if you are serious about finding the best guys (and gals) out there.  If you are not serious about completing the process in short order, then don’t waste your time or the candidate’s time. It sounds harsh, but everyone will be better off in the long run if you plan appropriately for the hiring process.  Also- be open about what you can and cannot do in terms of a full compensation package.  While it’s a strange place to start- in a highly competitive environment, you need to be transparent about what’s realistic and what’s not.  Lastly- provide a timeline in which the offer needs to be accepted.  You would be surprised at how many open-ended offers there are.  Nobody wins in that situation- create clear expectations and foster open communication channels and everyone will be happy.

For candidates.  Be open, honest and forthright with your prospective employer.  Be clear with them that you are interviewing in multiple places.  Tell them that you are interested, if you are- and DON’T BS them if you aren’t.  Share what your ideal situation is and ask them what you can really expect on a daily basis in the position.  Be open about what makes you tick and even how you prefer to be managed.  Again- open and honest communication is absolutely critical to this new relationship…even if you feel like you don’t know the person sitting across from you.  This is an opportunity to get what you need and for the employer to work effectively with you for the long run.  One more thing…DO NOT accept an offer, just to use it as leverage.  That is poor form and you will ultimately have a black eye as a result.  The tech community nationwide is remarkably small.  It may not come back to bite you this year, but bridge burning is never a good idea.

It’s an exciting time to create your own future- whether you are a business looking for talent or a potential candidate seeking your dream job.

My advice for all parties is to treat every interaction as important to your future success. Be open and forthcoming in every discussion you have.  Don’t hold back your honest thoughts- be diplomatic of course- but be clear about your intentions, about your capabilities and your needs.

You’ll be glad you did.