The question I’m asked most

The question I’m asked most often these days is this:

“Is the job market really as bad as some people are saying it is?”

and the answer is a definite yes, especially in the Bay Area.

There was an old saying during the boom, if you wanted a new job in San Francisco, it was simple: grab a dead fish, and stand on any street corner in SOMA. Spin around as fast as you can in one place and let the fish go. Whoever it hit would no doubt hire you to work on a web team for a cash-saturated startup.

These days aren’t the same at all.

I’ve gotten the last two jobs from word-of-mouth and casual friendships, but among all my friends currently, there’s nary a one that is working for a company still hiring. So I’ve hit the standard paths of checking out Dice.com, Monster.com, Headhunter.net, and camping on Craigslist. In the old days, making a sound on any of those sites would result in your phone ringing off the hook with recruiters and employers, but I’ve probably applied to a total of 50-60 positions, and in the first three weeks all I had to show for it was two auto-responders saying that too many people applied for the job and that I shouldn’t hold my breath.

It’s tough out there, I’m hooked on the web, this is what I want to do for the next few decades. I was here before the money came raining down from the sky and I know the passion will stay long after it’s gone, but it’s hard to stand out against the other recently laid-off applicants. I’m finding that it’s tough being a generalist. The web’s advanced to the point at which roles are fairly well defined on a team of engineers, and although knowing about all the technologies may be an asset in a project meeting, employers have a role they need filled, and prefer if you are an expert at X, without mentioning Y or Z. I’ve also learned that a million magazine articles and newspaper mentions don’t mean a hill of beans when you’re number 238 in a stack of 300+ resumes. I’m confident that a casual friendship or reader (hint, hint :) will connect me with my next gig, since the cattle call for openings still seems like a long shot.

I’m enjoying the perfect weather and time outdoors a great deal, so I can’t complain.