I spoke to a friend on Tuesday who recently received a promotion with a company he’d been employed with for just about a year out in Ohio. And the day before, on Monday, I learned that two friends had been laid off from the jobs they loved here in the Bay Area. When the Tuesday friend said he didn’t know how to feel about his promotion, I advised him to be grateful.
The Tuesday evening news informed me that if trends don’t change, California is going to run out of money for people on unemployment within a year, and will then have to borrow money from the federal government, as my home state Michigan and its neighbor Indiana are already doing. California’s unemployment rate now sits at an average of 8.2%. Layoffs are occurring left and right, and those in the tech industry can be tracked at both the TechCrunch Layoff Tracker and at CNET’s Tech layoffs: The scorecard. As was noted in October at sCommerce, “[w]hen it rains, it pours in the Tech World,” and already December has certainly seen its own fair share of downpour.
One recent victim I talked to kept shaking his head and insisting that it just didn’t make sense. But unfortunately, much as I sympathize and wish circumstances were otherwise, it does make sense. Businesses are doing the same thing the rest of us are doing, tightening their belts and hoping to survive the winter. Most people I spoke with didn’t seem to know where to begin once they’d lost their jobs.
However, while many industries are (however temporarily) very decidedly on the decline, others are thriving, growing even, and it isn’t impossible for the tech savvy to migrate over. Education, for instance. With so many people out of work, many are looking to further their educations. The Labor Department reported 9,800 jobs were created in the education industry. Additionally, the director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC, Dean Baker, is quoted on CNNMoney.com as saying, “Education will be an area that governments will try to protect because there’s a lot of political support.”
But you don’t have to be a teacher at an established institution to teach. (Though that certainly isn’t a bad way to go if you can manage it. I suggest checking your local city or community college’s website, or trolling through the local paper’s want ads. That’s how I found an opening for an English teacher at my former local community college.) Freelance tutoring is a perfect opportunity for some quick money and a new addition to your resume. Lots of people are turning to private tutors when they don’t have the time or discipline for a structured class schedule.
Another industry that will always remain strong is the health industry. CNNMoney.com reports that “[e]ven in the midst of the economic fallout, healthcare employment grew by 34,000 jobs in November,” and later went on to add that “[o]ptions…abound at pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms and medical-equipment companies.” The moderator of Your Health and Tech, William Welense, urges people “to look into healthcare information systems! Seriously, HCIT [Health Care Information Technology] really really really needs some web 2.0 people, especially on the visual design part of development.” And with innovations like Google Health (blogged about here at Your Health and Tech) coming out, this could be a really exciting field to get into!
If you are already in the Bay Area, and don’t know what health care management software companies are around, I suggest you first stop by the Yahoo! Directory for San Francisco Bay Area > Health Care Management Software for a handy list of companies with links to their websites. Don’t overlook the classified ads on Craigslist either. After typing “healthcare information systems” into the search field, nineteen results popped up for me on Tuesday, December 16.
And speaking of people wanting to further their education in these times of low employment, a master of science degree in Human Computer Interaction might be a handy thing to pick up, especially when looking at the field of healthcare information systems, and can be earned entirely online at certain universities, such as Chicago-based DePaul University.
If you’re looking online for jobs, why not stop by Stephan Miller’s quick list of 11 Places to Find Tech Jobs? If you are looking for freelance work, definitely check out Elance. They have everything from “web & programming” to “writing & translation.” Other sites in this vein are Project4Hire and GoFreelance.
Most importantly when looking for a new job, don’t forget to network. Ask your friends. If they don’t know somebody, maybe they know somebody who knows somebody. I myself have connections at both Google and LucasArts that will likely never do me a damn bit of good, but could come in handy for other friends who are in those fields. I’ve found that a lot of companies offer recruitment bonuses to their employees, so don’t feel bad asking. And as pointed out in my previous post, don’t overlook even little things like the local happy hour.
The only way to get through this economic downtime and get things moving again is to persevere. Don’t lose hope, and don’t give up. If you can’t find a new job in your usual field, branch out. There really are jobs out there, we just have to know where to look. Hopefully this has offered a few launching points. Best of luck! I’m rootin’ for ya.