Get a job at a dot.bomb

Subject: Get a job at a dot.bomb
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001 19:01:30 -0800 (PST)

Has the dot.com bubble burst (as Bruce suggested) or is there still life and
jobs for tech writers in dot.com land (as Elyna suggests.)

You're both right! But Bruce may be a little more right.

The bubble has absolutely burst and there are layoffs coming. Based on surveys
I've read, many company's are just getting started with layoffs. If the
current economic trend persists, I would bet on another 9 to 12 months of bad
news and increasing layoffs. This is caused by many reasons. The rising cost
of energy and dramatic slowing in consumer spending is one issue. The other is
a credit crunch. A lot of investments in dot.coms were total failures. That
means a lot of bad credit is about to come due and be written off. That means
banks and other lenders will pull back on borrowing and the entire capital
markets will tighten.

Also, if the power crisis in California persists, you can damn well bet on
increasing problems in high-tech. This summer could be very bad when all of
California turns on their air conditioners and Oregon and Washington give
California the finger when they demand more power.

I also hate to tell you, but tech writers are getting it on the chin. Just this
week I have 29 resumes from tech writers that were laid off in the Bay Area,
Seattle, and Portland. I have two writers on staff that were laid off from
local companies. The other areas getting slammed is tech support and anything
to do with web sites.

What is happening is companies are just not paying for less experienced people.
They want skilled people. If you lack skills, you lack options.

There is some good news...outsourcing is hot (which is good for me!) Bad times
are often good for contracting. This is actually why contracting was so popular
in 1992-1994 when the economy wasn't doing so well. Companies want to reduce
their long-term costs, so they'll outsource work. Outsourced work also comes
directly off the bottom line, which makes for lower taxes. After getting
rammed hard with employee taxes for the last few years, many firms are wising
up to the realities of outsourcing. Changes in the taxation climate are also
making it easier for companies to outsource. (Sorry NWU members, but there is
at lease ONE positive aspect of the Bush administration.)

As for dot.coms. The run-away spending of 1998-2000 is gone. The new order is
control and command. The people in charge are clamping down on excessive
spending. Everything must have tangible return on investment (ROI). ROI that is
short term and very real. Expect long, complex projects with questionable ROI
to get tanked in favor of "slap it together at the last minute" type
operations.

Dot.coms are not going to disappear. What is going to happen is a massive
consolidation in the industry. Good sites will get gobbled up into larger
companies. Bad sites will just die. If you go to work for a dot.com, expect
the worst. Things are not going to be great for a while. However, if you are
lucky enough to get on to a dot.com with a real future, you could make out very
well.

If you really want to know who will survive and who will die - look at the
markets. What is getting rewarded and what is not? If your company's stock is
slipping, then your company will eventually collapse. The stock price is the
only mechanism the outside world uses to judge your firm. So even if you have
the world's most amazing technology and your documentation transcends
space-time. if your stock is diving it doesn't much matter. Eventually, the
institutional investors will pull out and soon the officers will be running for
the Bahamas.

Right now, two markets are fairing pretty well: handhelds and networking.
Networking is lucky, it is like electricity, it will ALWAYS have a future.
Handhelds are doing well too. Not sure why.

What is not doing well - one acronym: B2B-ANYTHING. B2B is a faltering idea and
concept. Many of the promises of technology providing frictionless and
just-in-time inventory didn't pan out.

So, can you get a job? Sure. But, the markets are much more competitive now.
You can't just flash that tech writing certificate and get a job. Expect to
get interviewed THOROUGHLY. I have recently started administering strict
technology tests as a part of our interviewing process. About 65% of our
candidates fail completely. My guess is other companies will start doing the
same. Also, expect people to ask for samples. Again, I won't hire if I can't
get samples of work.

Good luck.

Andrew Plato



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