February 1, 1998

Employees with high-tech skills confident about finding new jobs

When Dan Murray grew restless as a product manager at an Internet start-up company in Denver, he didn’t fret about finding a new position. He felt sure that an exciting opportunity awaited him. Without sending out one resume he threw caution to the wind and resigned.

“The high-tech business is strong in Colorado right now,” Murray says. “I felt good about leaving a job without having something lined up.”

Steeped in the online world as founder of the Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group, Murray sent out an e-mail to his group of contacts, letting them know that he was leaving and taking some time off.

“I got a really strong response from my network, and it was very encouraging,” he says. Before long he was deluged with suggestions of companies to talk to, invitations to lunch, and a number of offers.

Murray took five weeks to think it all over, and returned to Boulder tanned, rested and ready to join Email Publishing Inc. as director of marketing. It was the most stress-free job search he’d ever had.

In a job market like this, attracting and retaining good employees is more of a struggle than ever, says Beth Zycan, marketing and recruiting manager for Lafayette-based staffing and consulting firm Breakthrough Systems Inc.

“What I’ve seen in the industry over 12 years is very cyclical. It doesn’t appear that this is different except that the economy is so positive now, coupled with the fact that everyone has a computer on their desk, so everyone is high-tech, whereas 10 years ago this wasn’t so.”

Recruiting is a challenge, says Michael Erbschloe, information technology analyst with Carlsbad, Calif.-based Computer Economics. He advises taking part of the money spent on traditional advertising venues and using it on “in-house recruiting,” paying existing employees for a referral.

“Using your employees to recruit is best as it recognizes the value of their professional involvement and their ability to network and know their community,” Erbschloe says. “A lot of people feel alienated from their jobs. This is a way to get them more involved. When I go to places that use that approach I feel that enthusiasm in the air.”

Employer involvement in the interests and needs of employees enhances retention as well, Zycan says.

“The way that we try to hang onto our consultants is, I try to keep a pulse on their mood. I say if you think you want to jump ship let me know that, because maybe I can find something more interesting.”

Interesting work is what keeps high-tech people happy, Zycan says.

“They can really pick and choose what they want to do. Many times the job choice is not based on perks but challenges.”

Erbschloe agrees that attention to employee needs is essential. He also believes that what high-tech people want most is to keep on learning. A lot of companies have benefits like stock options, day care and flextime, but he says, “having an environment where we say we will keep you trained and keep you on the edge; I think that’s probably the biggest (benefit).”

While Dan Murray is happily settling into his new job, he isn’t resting on his laurels, because he’s well aware of the mobility of the high-tech world.

“It seems like that in today’s job market your job security and employability has to do with what you’re learning on an ongoing basis and your network of contacts,” he says.

When Dan Murray grew restless as a product manager at an Internet start-up company in Denver, he didn’t fret about finding a new position. He felt sure that an exciting opportunity awaited him. Without sending out one resume he threw caution to the wind and resigned.

“The high-tech business is strong in Colorado right now,” Murray says. “I felt good about leaving a job without having something lined up.”

Steeped in the online world as founder of the Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group, Murray sent out an e-mail to his group of…

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