Hope to find a new engineering job in the first quarter or first half of 2010? It won’t be easy, unless you have a specific skill set that a company is looking for to meet its product development requirements.
“We will be doing very targeted, specific hiring, and on a very limited scale,” says Mark Finger, vice president for human resources for National Instruments, reflecting a common view. “Like RF and analog—to meet very specific requirements we need to fill.”
And with few exceptions, few of those slots will be new to the company. “Much of our hiring is driven by turnover and our turnover is way down,” notes Finger. “This is probably having as great an impact on hiring as anything else.”
Still, Finger thinks engineers will fare better than most people in technology. They just may not get their first (or second) choice of where to locate for a job.
Turnover has been a big but little discussed issue. At NI, turnover averages 10% to 15%. “We want to keep it less than that—at or below 10%,” says Finger, who believes that turnover at some companies may be as high as 50%. It also doesn’t help that several large companies are still laying off people.
Nokia recently said it was cutting 330 R&D jobs at sites in Finland and Denmark as it introduces few mobile phone models. Nokia Siemens Networks said in November that it may cut as many as 5760 jobs as part of a broad manufacturing and cost-cutting program. ST-Ericsson is conducting a global review that could result in the elimination of an additional 600 employees worldwide, as it works to increase the efficiency of its R&D program.
Sony Ericsson is closing several sites, including its 425-employee North American headquarters in Research Triangle, N.C. Electronic Arts says it plans to eliminate 1500 jobs, or about 17% of its workforce, in another round of restructuring. (EA cut 11% of its workforce in 2008.) Rogers Communications, the largest wireless carrier in Canada, is eliminating 900 jobs as the company reorganizes. Sprint Nextel also plans to cut more than 2000 positions companywide.
There are very few hot spots for jobs, either by job definition or company. Heidi Nagel, staffing and development director of Texas Instruments, says TI plans to hire hundreds of engineers and other professionals in 2010. Some of those new hires will likely be people who have worked for TI in the past. “People affected by layoffs have the ongoing opportunity to apply for new positions at TI. In some cases, these individuals are the best qualified and able to fill these new roles,” Nagel says.
“Our main needs include electrical engineers, especially those with analog skills, for applications, systems design, and product/testing engineering. Additionally, we continue to recruit software engineers, marketing engineers, and engineers with product line management skills. We seek the skill sets of both new college grads and experienced hires,” Nagel notes.
In fact, unlike many companies that may have to skip college recruiting in 2010, TI plans to continue to hire students directly from universities. “We had nearly 400 students in our 2009 internship and co-op programs, and we anticipate a similar level in 2010,” says Nagel.
Hiring is a mixed bag. Dell very recently listed 1000 openings with CareerBuilder.com for development engineers, software engineers, information technology specialists, and finance, sales, and marketing professionals. Fujitsu listed 75 openings with CareerBuilder.com for system engineers, quality engineers, and sales engineers. As if to emphasize the need for specific job skills, Jackie Nelson, vice president of marketing of CareerBuilder.com, says technology companies are among the few sectors that need “qualified employees” because “the success of their business, especially in today’s tough climate, relies on their talent.”
According to CareerBuilder.com, the top jobs of 2010 will include information system security managers (ranked sixth by the company), with average salaries running from $59,395 to $87,024, and system engineers (ranked seventh), defined as “someone who can make sense of all of the new and emerging technologies,” with salaries in the same range as information security managers.
“We think the economy is on the road to recovery. Six months ago our questions were, ‘How low will it go? How bad will it be?’” Finger says. “We’re starting to see signs that \\[the economy\\] is coming back. But is it a long-term strong recovery? And I’m not sure there’s a lot in the stimulus that helps businesses substantially. Small businesses drive much of the economy, but I haven’t heard much from small business that says this is great.”