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Is the Ice Breaking?

Don Stadler
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Joined: Feb 10, 2004
Posts: 451
I'm between jobs right now (in London) and while swotting up on some of the more arcane details of Hibernate and Struts I got an urgent call from a recruiter. Seems he has a couple of hot requirements on the table for contract J2EE developers in Paris and in Silicon Valley. Same client, A US conglomerate. Generous rates AND expense allowance for both gigs. Either one is a sweet deal from my POV.

I'm astonished that they're trying to source developers from London for Silicon Valley (although they won't go for a H1B visa, which limits the field to US citizens and Green Card holders for Silicon Valley). So it's not exactly 1999 again.

Even so it causes me to ask what's up, especially in the US? Have they finally hit the point where the shrunken supply of experienced J2EE developers can't readily supply these requirements? I've been predicting this since 2002 but finally stopped because it wasn't happening.

BTW, the highly unofficial rumor is that an Indian outsourcer was bounced off of one or both projects.

Anyone else seen signs of anything like this?
frank davis
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Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Don Stadler:
I'm between jobs right now (in London) and while swotting up on some of the more arcane details of Hibernate and Struts I got an urgent call from a recruiter. Seems he has a couple of hot requirements on the table for contract J2EE developers in Paris and in Silicon Valley. Same client, A US conglomerate. Generous rates AND expense allowance for both gigs. Either one is a sweet deal from my POV.

I'm astonished that they're trying to source developers from London for Silicon Valley (although they won't go for a H1B visa, which limits the field to US citizens and Green Card holders for Silicon Valley). So it's not exactly 1999 again.

Even so it causes me to ask what's up, especially in the US? Have they finally hit the point where the shrunken supply of experienced J2EE developers can't readily supply these requirements? I've been predicting this since 2002 but finally stopped because it wasn't happening.

BTW, the highly unofficial rumor is that an Indian outsourcer was bounced off of one or both projects.

Anyone else seen signs of anything like this?



I don't have specific stats for IT handy, but overall hiring is definitely and significantly up. Its been up long up enough that its not considered a temporary statisitical blip but more of a trend that is likely to continue for a significant while. I'm definitely receiving more email on job opportunities from Monster.com for my State (Florida); about double the daily average it seems than I got for prior 2 years. The local newspaper ads have increased as well for IT. I think we're on a modest little upswing here for IT.
Don Stadler
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Joined: Feb 10, 2004
Posts: 451
Originally posted by herb slocomb:



I don't have specific stats for IT handy, but overall hiring is definitely and significantly up. Its been up long up enough that its not considered a temporary statisitical blip but more of a trend that is likely to continue for a significant while. I'm definitely receiving more email on job opportunities from Monster.com for my State (Florida); about double the daily average it seems than I got for prior 2 years. The local newspaper ads have increased as well for IT. I think we're on a modest little upswing here for IT.


I've noticed that also - more incoming email for job openings over the past 6 to 9 months. There are a couple of differences though. Offered salaries still trend lower even than last year, and last year was down from 2002. Overall the drop has been between 30% and 50% from 2000 and probably 20% from 2002.

The gigs I'm working on are good even by 1999 or 2000 standards. Not as insane as some stories I've heard (like $2000 a day in the London financial district) but good. I wish I'd pursued one of them then, but I was heavily into monogamy then. Having been divorced I no longer put much value into employer promises....

What I think may happen is a sudden shortage of experienced development people capable of moving on a project. Not a shortage of developers exactly...

I think some companies are learning that not all Indian outsourcers are able to deliver and are moving to bring the control of critical projects back under their own roof. This means hiring more developers. Experioenced developers with the right kind of experience.

These are rarer than you might think. Very few young developers were hired in 2001-2003 and therefore haven't developed the experience to be as valuable now. A large number of experienced older developers have either dropped out of the job market or switched to .Net. Or have been unemployed for 2 years or longer.
Tim Holloway
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Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16065
    
  21

Originally posted by herb slocomb:



I don't have specific stats for IT handy, but overall hiring is definitely and significantly up. Its been up long up enough that its not considered a temporary statisitical blip but more of a trend that is likely to continue for a significant while. I'm definitely receiving more email on job opportunities from Monster.com for my State (Florida); about double the daily average it seems than I got for prior 2 years. The local newspaper ads have increased as well for IT. I think we're on a modest little upswing here for IT.


Also in Florida. I take that with a grain of salt. Most of my Monster.com stuff is still on earning lots of $$$ while working for major corporations at home. As if.

The local fishwrap's still not carrying any adverts from the contracting companies - the few programming positions advertised are generally for something like Cold Fusion.

However, my own employer is hiring, albeit modestly. They just haven't been advertising it. Even so, the world has changed. I'd estimate that back when the dinosaurs (mainframes) roamed the Earth, a company of this size would have had 3 times the programming staff.


Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
frank davis
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Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Tim Holloway:


Also in Florida. I take that with a grain of salt. Most of my Monster.com stuff is still on earning lots of $$$ while working for major corporations at home. As if.



Actually, none of the jobs that have been emailed to me recently are work at home jobs. Here's today's email I recevied :

US-FL-Fort Lauderdale SENIOR ENTERPRISE C# / ASP.NET DEVELOPERS - "CERTIFIED eBAY MOTORS PROVIDER" SOUTH FLORIDA, FL Auction123.com APPLY
US-FL-Jacksonville Java/J2EE Developer Technisource APPLY
US-FL-Gainesville/Jacksonville C/S Developer .NET Fidelity Information Services APPLY
US-FL-Gainesville/Jacksonville J2EE Programmer Fidelity Information Services APPLY
US-FL-Ft. Myers/Naples Coordinator, Computer Applications - Information Systems Florida Gulf Coast University APPLY
US-FL-Gainesville/Jacksonville Identity Management Administrator Adecco Technical APPLY
US-FL-Palatka Actuate Developer Technisource APPLY
US-FL-Melbourne SW Dev Transmission Power Network Applications - Ld Engineer

This is more than double than what I was getting les than a year ago.
Warren Dew
blacksmith
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Joined: Mar 04, 2004
Posts: 1332
    
    2
Don Stadler:

I've noticed that also - more incoming email for job openings over the past 6 to 9 months. There are a couple of differences though. Offered salaries still trend lower even than last year, and last year was down from 2002.

That matches what I've seen, both in terms of hiring activity and in terms of downward price pressures.

What I think may happen is a sudden shortage of experienced development people capable of moving on a project. Not a shortage of developers exactly....

These are rarer than you might think. Very few young developers were hired in 2001-2003 and therefore haven't developed the experience to be as valuable now.


Plus many of those hired during the boom in 1998-2000 were desperation hires that never actually became skilled developers.

I think some of the downward compensation pressure is because the average skill level is lower now than before the boom. Unfortunately, there still isn't any good way of determining how productive someone will be before hiring him.
Don Stadler
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Joined: Feb 10, 2004
Posts: 451
Originally posted by Warren Dew:

Plus many of those hired during the boom in 1998-2000 were desperation hires that never actually became skilled developers.[/QB]


Very true, Warren.

Originally posted by Warren Dew:
I think some of the downward compensation pressure is because the average skill level is lower now than before the boom. Unfortunately, there still isn't any good way of determining how productive someone will be before hiring him.
[/QB]


I'm not sure skill levels are comparable. It's hard for me to compare myself now to what I was in 1997. Then I was a very skilled C++/Unix developer, now I'm a somewhat less skilled Java/J2EE developer (though I'm swiftly catching up).

For me the real question concerns productivity. Am I more productive today than I was in 1997 in terms of the functionality I can pump out? Undoubtably, I am very possibly 6-8 times as productive as in 1997. My pay is possibly 20% lower than in 1997, and the time and expense for just keeping up is much, much higher.

I imagine that this is mostly true of someone who was writing Java in 1997 as well. Think of the changes since then! J2EE was only a gleam in the eye of some people at Sun then. Open Source had barely begun. I don't think Ant existed then, much less Maven, Struts, and all the tools which we have come to take for granted.

There wasn't any good way of determining how productive a hire would be before the boom and that remains the case. Although I would look at a CV for keywords like Maven, Cruise Control, JUnit (and other specialized JUnit-spinoff test tools), Hibernate, etc which might indicate a person with a serious interest in productivity. Unfortunately they could also indicate a weenie who spends all day playing with new tools and never gets a damn thing done! So there you are!
Tim Holloway
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Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16065
    
  21

Fidelity is rewriting a 35-year old COBOL batch (punch-card!) mainframe system in J2EE. As a former long-time employee, there, I've been watching this project with some interest. They're not hiring in quantity, but they have been soliciting steadily just about from the day they bought the mortage servicing business from ALLTEL.

I might be tempted to pull some inside strings and go back now that it's under what is apparently more intelligent management, except I got mighty tired of the commute after 6 years.
Tom Clancy
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 04, 2004
Posts: 5
Tim it's good to hear that Fidelity might hire J2EE folks for their new project. But also bear in mind, Fidelity has a couple of development centres in India, one in Bangalore and other in Noida. So whether they will hire in US or India is a big question.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16065
    
  21

Originally posted by Tom Clancy:
Tim it's good to hear that Fidelity might hire J2EE folks for their new project. But also bear in mind, Fidelity has a couple of development centres in India, one in Bangalore and other in Noida. So whether they will hire in US or India is a big question.


This is Fidelity National not the famous Internet brokerage Fidelity. AFAIK, any offshore development they're doing would be contracted, rather than part of the company. That's assuming that ALLTEL didn't sell their offshore units when they sold the mortgage servicing business.

Anyway, they're doing some recruiting directly here in Jax. This isn't just headhunters feeling hopeful.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Originally posted by Warren Dew:
Don Stadler:
I think some of the downward compensation pressure is because the average skill level is lower now than before the boom. Unfortunately, there still isn't any good way of determining how productive someone will be before hiring him.


That's a main reason why many companies (far more than before) hire people on short term contracts with a clause that the employment will become permanent if both sides are happy at the end of that term.
That's pretty much the standard in the stuff I've seen here over the last 2 years or so.


42
Don Stadler
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Joined: Feb 10, 2004
Posts: 451
Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:


That's a main reason why many companies (far more than before) hire people on short term contracts with a clause that the employment will become permanent if both sides are happy at the end of that term.
That's pretty much the standard in the stuff I've seen here over the last 2 years or so.


In the US they used to call these 'Right to Hire'. The client would make a deal which allowed them the right to make an offer to the contractor at the elnd of a period (usually 6 months). It often included a fee to the contracting company if the option was exercised. It was always optional for the contractor to actually accept the offer, although I've seen contractors terminated for not accepting. I've turned down an offer myself and continued working as a contractor with no problem. I refused politely however......

Curiously I see very little of this in the UK, however. At this point I'd actually prefer a right to hire contract rather than a straight contract OR an offer of permanent employment, but it doesn't seem to be a popular choice these days.
[ July 09, 2004: Message edited by: Don Stadler ]
Tony Collins
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Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
I hope you find work soon Don and thanks for the positive advice when I was out of work. I'm now teaching in an east London School, so for everyone there is a route though it may not be in software.

Tony
 
Don't get me started about those stupid light bulbs.
 
subject: Is the Ice Breaking?