Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….


Posted by sweens on December 18, 2008

So I often get phone calls from people who are curious as to what the current labour market is like or from people who are curious about who’s still hiring in todays economy.  Firstly, the Federal Government is still pounding out the usual amout of work for contractors.  While things tend to slow down the closer you get to Christmas, they will certainly pick up in 2009 and into March as Government fiscal year end draws nearer and departments are looking to spend any excess funds they may have at their disposal.  The private sector is however a different story. 

Ottawa’s IT sector has seen its share of employment cuts over the last year but especially within the last 6 months.  Some of the major players have been Bell, Dell, Avaya, and Nortel.  Others are expected to join the corporate down sizing to cut operating costs during the economic down turn.  Adobe recently announced they would be cutting up to 600 jobs in light of less demand for their recently launched Creative Suite 4 product line.  However layoffs aren’t the only reason the Ottawa job market is looking the way it is.  Ottawa has also seen its share of corporate mergers or acquisitions throughout the year as well.  Most noteably, IBM purchasing Cognos for roughly $5 Billion (or $58 per share).  Cognos, which was always seen as one of the best employers in the city, represented the last Canadian run software company of its size.  This merger has left many Cognoits looking for positions outside of ‘big blue’ either by personal choice or duplication of roles between the two companies.  On a personal note, having worked at Cognos for 3+ years while attending University, it certainly was a special place to work.

As a recruiter who now sees a large number of resumes from the companies mentioned above a trend is apparent to me .  The above mentioned companies were able to retain their employees for lengthy periods of time.  It is not uncommon for people who have recently moved on from Cognos or Nortel for example to have worked at that company for 10, 15, 20 years.  This is also a common trend for former Bell employees as Bell offers a pension to its employees.  I guess the point of mentioning that is where do those people who have worked for the same company for the majority, if not all of their professional lives, go from there?  Some suggest that generation ‘X’ (people like my father – an 18  year Cognos veteran) are loyal to a company and once they are in they try to grow within the company.  The flip side is that generation ‘y’ (my generation) isn’t interested in loyality with employers and are constantly going from job to job.  Having spoken to my VP at Procom he has stated numerous times that 10 years ago when recruiting someone who had gone from job to job, that was viewed as a negative thing.   As someone who is recruiting now and into 2009 I would say that the times have changed and staying with a company for numerous years (while not negative) doesn’t make you as marketable to a prospective employer. 

For whatever reason, todays job market seems to be focused on two things that weren’t priorities 10 years ago.  1) Diversity.  2) Certifications.  I amazed at how many requirements (both public and private) are tied to certifications:  PMP; ITIL; MCSE; etc.  So here I am, a 24 year old recruiter, who looks back 2 years and remembers not being able to get out of school fast enough, considering going back to school for certifications.  While ‘recruiter’ certifications are hard to come by, Human Resources certifications are more common and offered here in Ottawa.  Algonquin College offers a Human Resources Management Certification (HRM) which is CHRP recognized.  As where Carleton University offers a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP).  Which is better?  I’m still trying to investigate so if you have any suggestions or comments I’d appreciate it.

In closing, the job market today isn’t what it was a year ago.  Some of Ottawa’s big players have been forced to make cut backs leaving many long time serving employees without employment.  The challenge is how do those people market themselves to take on a new career options and what should their expectations be…

One Response to “Snapshot…”

  1. Craig said

    I guess it is time to dust off those old text books old E-Books and start reading again. It always strikes me as odd that certifications are held with such high regard. I have been on the certification evaluation side and have not seen much of an improvement to the product – now that might be because it was implemented correctly to the ‘certification standard’.

    Back to the books for me.

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