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RealTime IT News

A Job For The Holidays

If the first item on your holiday wish list is a job, you just may get your wish.

That is, if you lay off the eggnog and work the phones. Many people see the time between Thanksgiving and the winter holidays as downtime, a period where business goes into a lull. They are wrong, wrong, wrong, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

In fact, the professional outplacement firm says, this month can be an excellent time to look for a tech job.

Around 20 percent of job seekers take a break during the holidays, Challenger said, figuring that they'll begin another full-court press on Jan. 2. Those who do will miss out on what the company estimates at 300,000 managerial and professional jobs that may be added in the closing months of the year.

"The end of year used to be a slow period for most businesses, but the 24/7 global economy has changed all of that. There is no slow period now. Companies make constant adjustments to their payrolls regardless of the date on the calendar," CEO John Challenger said in a statement.

He noted that companies are setting their budgets for the coming year, so managers know what they have to work with in terms of expansion. In addition some managers speed up the hiring process to use up funds from the current year.

One caveat to this rosy picture, however, is that the lion's share of those 30,000 jobs won't be in technology. There, the cuts continue.

According to Challenger, technology companies announced 41,439 job cuts in the third quarter, up 4.3 percent from 39,720 in the second quarter. For the year, tech-job cuts totaling 140,696 were 18.8 percent higher than the three-quarter total of 118,427 in 2004.

But Challenger saw signs that job cuts in the sector, which includes computers, telecommunications, electronics and e-commerce, may be slowing. The 41,439 job cuts announced between July and September were 24 percent lower than the 54,701 job cuts during the same period in 2004.

In 2006, the company expects the biggest job gains to come in the financial services, technology, health care, energy and international business sectors, which together could create as many as 1.3 million new jobs next year.

When it comes to salaries, though, the technology industry finally seems to be recovering from its dot-bomb hangover.

Hourly wages for highly skilled technology professionals improved in the third quarter of 2005 compared to the same period in 2004, according to the latest Yoh Index of Technology Wages, the quarterly compensation index used by Fortune 500 companies to determine salary scales. Yoh is an international recruiting firm focusing on technology and professional talent.

In its latest quarterly analysis, Yoh found that the highest-paid technical job, database engineer, made an average of $60.53 an hour, while the lowest-paid, process engineer, got $36.75 an average of an hour.

"There is a momentum in the professional and technology hiring ranks that is helping to increase competition among companies for the highest-quality consultants, and, consequently, to boost wages in order to attract the best talent," said Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing for Yoh, in a statement.

To snag one of those high-paying tech jobs, Challenger advised job seekers to party, but party with a purpose.

You should attend all holiday parties, he said -- and he means all. If two or more are held on the same night, the savvy seeker will party-hop. The key is to meet as many people as possible.

While the chance of meeting the person who eventually hires you is small, there's a big chance you'll meet at least one person who can get you in the door of a potential employer.

Sending holiday cards is a great way to stay in touch with contacts, thanking them for their help and updating them on your progress. Volunteering for non-profits can expand your professional network, teach you new skills and boost your self-esteem, Challenger said.

Use December to do well by doing good, and that goodness may last for years to come.