This week I chaired an interactive panel discussion on the skills challenge facing New Zealand technology companies. It’s part of Massey University’s ecentre cloud series. Here’s how the discussion played out on Twitter. The link is to Storify which apparently can’t be embedded in WordPress.
Useful research by Aimee Whitcroft who goes beyond the call of duty testing various ways of turning Linkedin data into infographics.
Her Your LinkedIn profile, visualised concludes the artwork generated by services automating the process are little more than good-looking gimmicks and certainly not good enough to send someone when you’re looking for a new job.
She goes onto the say the idea is lovely and there are some great elements, but the services need to improve.
How often have you read a story about the lack of women working in technology which goes on to suggest promoting tech careers to schoolgirls as a solution?
The idea is dumb and patronising.
Dumb because women face problems with technology careers that a simple marketing campaign won’t fix.
Patronising to think dishonest marketing fools women.
Look at the facts.
- The number of women in technology has declined. Some say the number has been declining for a decade. In fact, the number of US women in tech peaked in the 1980s. It’ll be roughly the same here.
- Women leave technology to work elsewhere. This is more worrying than the lack of women entering the industry. It says a marketing campaign won’t work long-term.
- There’s still a pay gap in IT. The numbers are from Australia, I doubt they are different in New Zealand, most tech companies here report to Sydney.
- Girls are scared of boring, lonely tech careers.
- And let’s not forget there are sexist attitudes in the industry. This morning I heard of a young woman I know being sexually harassed by an arsehole at an industry function.
Of course many women working in technology love the industry. We could start by asking them about what they like and what frustrates them.
But the real problem is down to the people running technology companies – men and women. Clearly women don’t think they do enough to make women feel wanted and appreciated. They don’t feel they are fairly paid. They worry bosses do little more than pay lip service to ideas of equality and are not acting quickly to stamp out arsehole behaviour.
Fix it please.
If you’re a technology manager you need to move jobs roughly every five years to avoid being seen as a job-hopper or a plodder writes Jennifer Foreshew in The Australian’s IT section: Don’t job hop, IT managers told.
She says younger technology workers should look at moving on every two to three years.
For more on this see How long should I stay in a job?
Scott Herrick at Cube Rules says careers are over. Herrick is writing about working in the USA, but his comments apply equally to New Zealand where people tend to stick with their jobs longer mainly because they have fewer alternative employers.
The days of our fathers and grandfathers — where grey flannel suits reigned and there was lifetime employment at a company — are over. I just can’t believe people still think that type of employment still exists. Have we seen the layoffs? The outsourcing? The downsizing? The increased productivity?
If you have a marketable skill and a decent reputation there’s a good chance a head-hunter will call. You may get a personal phone call from a senior executive in the recruiting company, but it is more likely the approach is from a professional head-hunter.
Being head-hunted is flattering – though not always. I was still young the first time I was head-hunted. Instead of feeling flattered I felt insulted. At the time I worked for the leading magazine in its niche and my employer was launching new titles.
The number three publisher rang with an unsolicited job offer. Sure promotion and more money were on offer but there was still something vaguely offensive about being considered a suitable candidate to work at an also-ran company.
While being head-hunted sounds exciting, it is not always be welcome. You may be happy in your job and unwilling to move.
You may have recently moved jobs and feel that it is too soon to move on. The head-hunting company might be in another city a long way from family and friends.
It might be a company that does business in a way you don’t like.
Listen to the head-hunter
Even if you are certain you do not want to move jobs, you should at least listen to exactly what is on offer. It is unlikely you’ll get this information from the first phone call – generally it involves a short out-of-hours meeting in a bar, coffee shop or hotel lounge.
As a rule the head-hunter won’t want to wait, you’ll be pressed to arrange a meeting within days of the first contact.
If nothing else, it is worth sacrificing an hour and shuffling appointments to get a clearer picture of your worth on the job market.
There are two exceptions:
First, I’d flatly turn down a meeting if I suspected its real purpose was a fishing expedition for a business rival. Some people think you’d be so flattered by a job offer that you’ll spill the beans on your current employer.
To avoid the risk of this you should first check that the person approaching you is a genuine head-hunter. This is rarely easy, if possible ask someone he or she has previously placed for a reference.
If the person is an executive of the hiring company or another go-between, try to check they have a good reputation. You should check a head-hunter or recruiter before divulging any information.
If you are still suspicious, then before agreeing to meet ask them how long the job has been vacant and why it became vacant. Also ask why they selected you. You’ll probably hear some flattering words, but try to see through the smarm and decide whether you are a serious candidate for a real job.
When you do meet, if they quiz you about your current employer on no account offer any information – even if the company does choose to hire you later on, your disloyalty will be on the record. More to the point, there may have been no intention of employing you.
You need to play things by ear. The recruiter may ask you legitimate questions designed to show whether you could be persuaded to leave your current job.
I’d also be unwilling to meet a head-hunter if I thought the offer was insincere in any other way – it’s not unknown for people in multilevel marketing schemes to try to pass themselves off as head-hunters.
Likewise some headhunting offers are primarily designed to sew discontent or otherwise disrupt operations. I’ve even come across recruitment consultants who claim they are head-hunters when they are just looking to fill a difficult vacancy.
A head-hunter may call asking for your help finding someone to fill a job or for a reference for someone being head-hunted. The first case may be a subtle way of determining your interest in the job. Both types of call can be a form of sounding out – the same recruiter might ring back months or years later with an offer.