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Staying in the job pool

The motto for Monster.com is: Think Big. Be Happy. It may seem like just another slogan to some, but Jeff Taylor thinks it’s a directive that jobseekers should take to heart.

As the employment ride of technology professionals went from a rocket to a rollercoaster, job sites like Monster.com tried to help workers keep their seatbelts fastened. Founded in 1994 by Jeff Taylor, Monster became a symbol of how wildly successful a dot-com could get. Unlike other companies, however, it stayed successful.

Now with sites in 20 countries, the job board has expanded into a career center, where job seekers can post résumés, get advice, look at new employment listings, and research companies. The site even has resources for a cross-country move in case of relocation. While the tech sector seems to be a little tough to navigate right now, Taylor still believes in Monster’s motto: “Think Big. Be Happy.”

The current employment scene for technology professionals still looks bleak to many job hunters. What can they do to bolster optimism for the future?

The technology job market is still in a slow recovery mode, as technology workers are likely to continue to face the effects of the boom-and-bust period. Technology spending will gradually increase, but that won’t necessarily lead to a return of double-digit salary increases and the large bonuses that we saw back in 1999 and 2000. With companies continuing to closely monitor expenditures in all areas, money will be used efficiently for technology and for technology workers.

In today’s market, it’s important for IT workers to demonstrate core and highly desirable IT skills as well as a general business savvy, since that will be what defines them and gives many an edge for employment.

If technology workers find that their skill set is not up to par, now’s the time to invest in learning and development, in order to be able to showcase a wide array of workable IT skills.

How has Monster changed in the last six months to accommodate changes in the tech industry?

As the leading online career Web site, it’s a priority for us at Monster to make ourselves a career resource for all types of workers and companies. Following our inception in 1994, technology companies were the earliest to adopt Internet recruiting, and a vast majority of our first job postings were tech-related.

As we grew, other fields and industries began to see the value and effectiveness of online recruiting and soon joined the ranks of Monster member companies.

Today, we still have a very strong technology jobs pool on our site, but we’ve grown and diversified our offerings. For example, government and healthcare–new focus areas for Monster–offer excellent technology opportunities.

Do you have a few tips for job seekers who are trying to differentiate themselves from the dozens, sometimes hundreds, of other candidates for a position?

Something I ask all job seekers who inquire about their job searching is how many hours per week that they look for a job. For those who are only looking 10 hours a week, that’s not enough. There are hundreds of other candidates vying for similar positions. You have to make sure that you are not being beat out by someone who’s working harder.

Therefore, my advice to job seekers is to spend at least as many hours looking for a job as you spent at a previous job. If you worked 40 hours a week, spend at least 40 hours looking for a job.

Secondly, I also advise job seekers to energize all of their network relationships. Networking is a crucial part of looking for a job. Job seekers need to package together a full strategy, including searching through job listings, joining industry groups, and networking with family, friends, and former co-workers, to most effectively differentiate themselves in a competitive job market.

You’ve said that you see Monster as a career operating system, the way Intuit is a finance management system. Can you expand on what you mean by this? How does the site help job seekers manage their careers over time?

Monster has grown to offer job seekers a full career management system. A job seeker’s experience on Monster begins at onset of a career. For college students and young alumni, we offer MonsterTRAK.

Monster also offers opportunities for all levels of job seekers, from mid-career to the senior management level. We empower job seekers to take control of their career–whether they are proactively seeking a new job or keeping their résumé posted online for employers to come and find them. Job seekers can also create job search agents so the system can look for a job for you.

Additionally, we offer expert-driven tips and advice to guide seekers along every step of their career to ensure that they are taking the right steps to manage their career, so they can get that next big opportunity. All this from a single desktop environment and their “My Monster” account on our Web site.

What are some of the challenges facing technology job seekers in particular? For example, do you feel the amount of offshore outsourcing is making a major impact on the job pool yet?

Technology job seekers enter a tight job market with tough competition, as companies are evaluating all of their technology investments. The recession has hit the white-collar sector of the workforce including technical people more so than past recessions. That is why it’s crucial for technology workers to polish their skill sets, to ensure that they are knowledgeable in the basic foundation of skills for an IT worker–examples are C++ and Java. Technology workers need to do research to discover what skills companies are looking for.

Checking out companies’ job postings will often highlight the skill sets that technology companies covet, and it is essential that job seekers strive to attain these skills in order to make them a desirable candidate in this marketplace.

Offshore outsourcing is an area that is starting to pick up momentum for companies, as they look to cut costs and attain IT talent at reduced cost. However, there remains an abundance of opportunity for today’s IT worker in the United States, provided that their skills are up to date and reflect the needs of today’s leading technology companies.

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