I read a good article yesterday called The Rise of Developeronomics. It brought together two concepts that I have thinking about for a long time. The first is the incredible marketability of software developers and the second the encroaching job crisis that many people are faced with.
I started my real career as a software engineer. I really enjoy writing software although I do very little of any longer. I was really in my zone back in the late ninety’s when the entire Internet world was on fire. Around 1996 or so I realized just how in-demand software developers were so I picked my bets carefully, meaning startups and founders, and essentially stopped worrying if I would have a job next week. Even in the dark days of the Internet nuclear winter the fact is I could always get a job, could probably get that job in about 10 minutes, and ironically would probably be making more money not less. It might not be the job I wanted, but I could – get a job – if things went bad. Really the only risk was that I may work someplace that didn’t have upside potential, meaning I may risk only working for the salary. Literally, for me to be happy I have to have plausible belief I am working toward a total homerun – or im out. That does not mean job hopping – it means picking my bets and seeing them through.
If you juxtapose that thought process with the news every single night (yes I get my news old-school from the NBC nightly news), I’m astounded how so many people are seemingly out of work and giving up on finding work. Of course, we all know these people are in a different position. They worked hard, and were loyal employees and probably did concern themselves with selecting the safe jobs. But, while they were doing that, the world made a slow and insidious shift out from under them like a slow moving glacier. The world of software and technology slowly ate their existence. We were all told it would happen very fast, starting with robots first eating our medications, but in reality it took about 20 years. The fact is, if you are waiting for middle-management and clerical jobs to come back, they are not coming back. If you are selling cars on a lot or books in a story, they are not coming back. They were replaced with Amazon.com, Saleforce.com, personal computers, iphones and ubiquitous broadband connections.
The two worlds of technology enabled and not technology enabled are not colliding, in fact they are moving apart from each other at an accelerated pace. I do not believe that government polity will help. Stimulus will not help because jobs that will be created will be for the technology enabled. If you are not that person, you simply can not stand on the sides lines and proclaim you are not that person. You will for all intents and purposes financially perish. You must go educate yourself in something.
If you are now a software developer or a technology-enabled person, my advice is NOT to hand wring about your career stability. I honestly feel you have nothing to worry about IF you can handle being out of work and uncomfortable for a few weeks here and there. YOU are the ones that will be making jobs for everyone that needs one.