Keeping your day job

When Daryl D’Souza graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto a little over a year ago, he found himself in a very different market than the one in existence four years prior. During the heyday of the dot-com boom, where entry-level positions garnered wages of $75K plus, D’Souza was in the midst of the Computer Science program, preparing himself for the high-rolling world of IT.

Unfortunately, D’Souza was a little late in the game, as were all IT grads after the year 2000. The dot-com boom came to an abrupt halt, and an overflow of talent spilled out into the marketplace.

That was then. Now, two years later, although the IT marketplace has not gained the momentum it once saw when start-up Internet companies were spreading like wildfire, the job market is in relatively stable condition. According to a study conducted earlier this year by IDC Canada Ltd., AON Consulting Corp. and the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), based on the hiring predictions of some 300-plus technology companies in Ontario, an estimated 38,000 new jobs were created in 2002, leaving a potential gap of approximately 9,000 unfilled IT positions.

But what is needed to land those positions, and how can employees ensure that their jobs are secure? Recruiters and industry experts agree on one thing: keep skills up-to-date.

Certifiably yours

In today’s market staying current in terms of skills is crucial, says Les Banks, lab director for TalentLab, an IT and engineering recruitment firm in Ottawa. And obtaining certifications, including the likes of Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and the severely challenging Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE), can help job seekers stay marketable. While certifications can take months, even years to obtain, and generally require a hefty investment on the part of the job seeker, Banks explains that it can be very worth it.

“If someone is looking at getting a major contract with the federal government…certified is a must,” he said. As an example, the Federal government recently hired 28,000 people, the majority of which were technology-related positions, Banks notes. “If you don’t have your certifications, you are not getting the job.”

However, he admits that certifications become a coin toss for individual companies. If resum