Salary survey: Restless times

Networking professionals are a restless lot. Some 88% say they are job hunting even though most are satisfied with their current jobs.

In these economic times of uncertainty, job hunting seems like the last thing an information technology professional would want to do.

Leaving a current job means giving up seniority, and as the old saying goes, "Last hired, first fired."

But the almost 11,000 IT professionals who responded to searchNetworking's Interactive Salary Survey, conformed to another old saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

And the tough seem to want to get going, with 88% of respondents looking for new jobs although 74% of respondents are satisfied to very satisfied with their current jobs. In fact, 32% of respondents' job satisfaction increased in the past year, while 32% remained at the same level of satisfaction. Only 36% of respondents felt their job satisfaction decrease this year.

The top two reasons for job hunting, according to respondents, are salary and benefits, at 44.95%, and the opportunity to work with new technologies, at 20.31%. Job hunting may not be the easiest task in this economy, however. Most companies are in a hiring freeze or even cutting staff. And most agree the days of walking into a company with your resume and receiving a raise are over.

Average salary $51,000

The highest yearly salary listed by survey respondents was $250,000 a year but the average was considerably lower, at $51,000 a year. More salary survey results are available in the link listed below.

"If most people say their jobs are tolerable to very good, and a lot of places are really reducing their headcount, it doesn't seem like an optimum time to jump," said John McConnell, president, Boulder, Colo.-based McConnell Associates, a network management consulting firm.

"People are looking for the next best thing, the next big gold rush," said Joel Conover, senior analyst tracking e-business infrastructure at Sterling, Va.-based Current Analysis. Inevitably, there will be another gold rush, he said.

Some networking professionals said salary issues have propelled them into the job market.

Jeffrey Schwartz, a network engineer, is hoping to find a pay raise and better benefits by switching jobs.

"There are three companies locally that provide telco support. Generally, if you move from one company to another, you get a pay raise," he said.

Michael Wright, a network, systems and procurement administrator, is always looking for new opportunity.

"Currently, I'm at a not-for-profit organization, and they pay far below scale."

Reality strikes

But, they said, the current economy has ever-increasing salary offers may be a thing of the past.

"Before the downturn, when people were hard to find, you could walk in the door with your resume and get a 10% to 15% raise, but not anymore," McConnell said.

Others are looking for the intangibles. A network administrator at a law firm who wished to remain anonymous plans to leave his job because he doesn't like the end users -- mostly lawyers -- at his current gig.

"Bad management at the parent company has become a very big problem and forces us to constantly move backward in technology," said William Hopkins, an IT services manager.

One-third of the job seekers are probably more motivated by the prospect of learning new technical skills than money, McConnell said.

Athough there are about 800,000 IT job openings worldwide, some people are unemployed and looking. George Knudsen, a Certified Novell Administrator, is seeking new employment after being laid off in February. He doesn't expect to find the same level of payment and benefits he reaped at his last job.

"For the last few months, (job-hunting) has led to my frustration with the lack of openings for mid-level IT personnel in the Detroit area," he said.

Many job seekers are contract workers. Companies like contract workers because they can be let go at any time and don't carry benefit requirements, Conover said.

"A lot of (contract workers) don't know where their next paycheck is coming from," he said.

Worried about company future

Some are also skeptical about their own company's solvency. James Grimwood, senior technical specialist, information systems has seen indications that his company will be sold, and layoffs are inevitable.

Those who aren't looking for new jobs say they are staying at their jobs because of the current economic conditions. Sheldon Williams, a technical analyst for Federal Express Corp., plans to stay at his job because of the job security involved. In the Washington, D.C. area, where Williams works, he observed The Washington Times IT employment insert dwindle from 20 pages to a mere five.

"Job opportunities seem to have disappeared," he said.

Others say they are staying put because they're satisfied and don't feel there is a better job out there at this time. Patricia Lanier, a senior-level telecom analyst, is satisfied with her job.

"I'm always challenged, always learning, always busy, and I feel that my work is appreciated," she said.

"I recognize I can likely make more money elsewhere. Money, however, is not a central motivation for me," said Dale Sims, a systems administrator. Sims said he enjoys working with his team and benefits from study and research time, as well as support for ongoing training and skill enhancement.

Most agree that those looking for jobs right now need experience, because companies can afford to be choosy, said McConnell.

"If one has at least a couple of years using the most current technologies, jobs are available," said Herb Wagner, a systems administrator.

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