Crying Wolf?

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You remember the lesson from the little boy who cried wolf: If you raise enough false alarms, no one will come when you really need help. As it turns out, that works the other way too: If you hear enough legitimate cries for help, people won’t recognize when a false alarm sounds.

Let me put that in an IT context. For years now, ever since the loud pop of the bursting bubble, there’s been an air of urgency and negativity surrounding certification. Not exclusively, of course, but it’s been noticeable enough. Some good people were so unconvinced of a stable future, they gave up on IT altogether.

It’s a fair concern, fed by recessionary fears, fostered by offshoring and bred to believe the IT age isn’t infinite. No doubt much of that was true, but when fear takes over, it’s easy to keep quaking even after the threat has diminished.

I’m not saying everything’s aces out there, but we’re definitely seeing signs of improvement.

With this in mind, I recently sat down with Scot Melland, CEO of, one of the leading IT job sites. I had two basic conversational points for Scot: How’s the IT job market, and what role does he see certification playing?

Scot is definitely seeing signs of improvement. When we talked, Dice had 70,000 job postings, twice the number from two years ago. He cites Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers to back it up: IT unemployment is listed at 3.7 percent, 1.5 percent below the national average and the lowest percentage since 2000.

Looking ahead, Scot predicted an increase in employee turnover as IT experts shop for new positions again, and he sees salaries going up.

“The labor market is going to be very good for tech professionals in the near future,” Scot explained.

And certification’s role? An important one, Scot said.

Among Dice’s listings, 14 percent require or recommend certification. Recruiters also are increasingly using certification as a differentiator when presenting applicants. (The most popular certifications on, incidentally, are Microsoft’s MCSE, Oracle DBA, Cisco’s CCNA and CCIE, and PMI’s Project Management Professional.)

Naturally, you have a role to play in increasing the value of certification and the demand for certified professionals. It starts with keeping your skills current and being well-prepared for a constantly advancing industry.

Scot had some parting words of advice:

“Take your head up, take a look around, because the market’s coming back,” he said. “Think about your skill set, think about your long-term career path, because the opportunities are there.”

What do you think? How are things in your neck of the woods?

Tim Sosbe
Editorial Director


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