One IT Leader’s Approach to His Job Search

Ken Cameron was senior vice president of global operations at AIG Global Partners until he became a casualty of the company’s recent well-publicized troubles. He spoke with Sonia Lelii about his approach to job hunting in IT in general, and financial IT in particular.

By Sonia Lelii | Dice News Staff


How are you finding the job market?

The IT job market is tough right now, but not impossible. There definitely are fewer advertised positions, plus far more candidates to pursue them. I’ve seen an opening appear on a jobsite at 8 a.m., and be pulled by 10 a.m. the same day. Recruiters have told me they get thousands of applicants. Consequently, I’m using a combination of sending e-mails to recruiters, looking at job boards, and networking. Since I’m at the executive level, my concentration is on networking.

Are you focusing on the finance sector, or expanding your search into other areas?

I’m looking at all sectors. Since my background is in managing IT infrastructure, I consider myself an industry generalist. I am focusing my search on medium-to-large commercial enterprises, IT Outsourcing companies, and consulting firms specializing in IT infrastructure and/or outsourcing.

One challenge is actually a fun one: learning how to use the new social networking tools.  I have become quite proficient on LinkedIn, and am just getting into Twitter. These are tools that are not "job-search" specific. They are for personal and business uses, but happen to also be useful in job search. I highly recommend both.

How do you think the changes in the finance sector will affect IT? Finance represented about 20 percent of the IT industry’s revenue, after all.

The final long-term impact remains to be seen. On the surface, you expect it to be devastating.  Most financial institutions are laying people off, including their IT workers.  In situations involving mergers or acquisitions, the number of lost jobs will probably be even higher. However, after the industry thins out and the economy begins to recover, you’ll still need IT to process transactions, combine disparate IT organizations (for mergers or acquisitions), and implement the expected rash of new regulations, etc.

So, I expect demand to pick up rather quickly and strongly. It’s just a matter of when. The question is, in what forms will the jobs come back? Will they be full employees or will we see a higher percentage of contractors and consulting? Will companies use more managed services, SaaS, and/or cloud computing services? What about the debate on on-shore versus off-shore?

What are you doing to stay motivated in your job search?

I manage my time between several activities. Initially, I sent my resume to more than 1,000 recruiters. Now, I spend time looking and responding to job postings. I spend quite a bit of time networking, using LinkedIn plus my own direct contacts. Plus, I’m just getting started with Twitter. I allocate time to reading IT industry material, attending webinars on the latest concepts and technologies, and blogging on topics I am passionate about, like leadership, ITIL, IT metrics, virtualization, mainframes, cloud computing. With technology, you never stop learning. I try to get to at least one networking event a week.

I’m doing some volunteer work and participating in local civic activities. I volunteered to be a judge at Temple University’s Fox School of Business "Be Your Own Boss Bowl," a business plans competition. I also mentor one of their graduate students on his submission. It’s both rewarding and exciting to work with these bright, energetic students. On the civic side, I’m working with our local township government and the high school board on various activities, especially relative to fiscal responsibility.

Of course, it goes without saying my number one motivation is my family and providing for them. The severance, 401K, and personal reserves are finite.

Comments

  1. BY Brad Garland says:

    Good article! Everything said is right on the money. And, I agree about the “industry generalist” approach to the search. However, not always finding that the hiring manager agrees. The tendency to weed out candidates sometimes leans too heavily on industry experience despite the transferable skills acquired in the IT arena of any business. Best of luck to Mr. Cameron, and all of us searchers.

  2. BY Bart Sayre says:

    Its helpful to hear from others this way – and its not hard to relate.

  3. BY Joe Dwyer says:

    Excellent article and I wish Ken and the boat load of others the best in their search. When it comes to industry generalist, and when I was hiring, I only allowed that for junior positions. My reasoning was they were young and could be trained in a new area. If someone already had 15 years or more, well they were in that industry for “life”. Given the choice I think it also works againist the generalist and we do now have a lot of choices when it comes to candidates. But I will add this, times are changing, things are being shaken up………….so, maybe getting fresh ideas, a different prespective and a broarder view will help in the near future. Hiring managers what do you think about hiring a great generalist?

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