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Wall Street's pain, IT workers' gain?

Pollyannas want you to think that this economic crisis can be good for your career. I have my doubts.

One man's loss is another man's gain.

I've heard this at least a half-dozen times in the past two weeks, thanks to the thinning of the herd on Wall Street. The theory: A financial industry collapse isn't all bad. Viewed in a prudential light, there's a lot of good that can come from it -- like a glut of highly qualified IT workers.

This from Crain's New York

Local tech firms that have struggled these past few years to fill openings said Wall Street's pain is their gain.

This means that if you live in New York and you're in the market for highly qualified IT workers, you're in luck. And don't worry about meeting some outrageous six-figure income. The playing field has now been leveled, says the Crain report.

Banks have been willing to pay $250,000 base salaries plus a bonus for top talent, said Michael Flannery, managing director of Redwood Partners, an executive search firm. "That made these people untouchable," he added.

And if you're one of the thousands of IT workers looking for work, some CIO recruiters say you won't be in the unemployment line for long.

"All these really smart IT people gone from Lehman Brothers -- it's a great opportunity to pick up some talented people," said Ellen Carney, who covers banking and insurance IT spending for Forrester Research Inc., as reported by senior writer Linda Tucci in her blog.

Typically, I'm a glass-half-full kind of gal, but this position that everything will be coming up roses for out-of-work IT workers sounds to me too much like Pollyanna and not enough like Aunt Polly.

I offer a more realistic take: This is no silver lining for IT workers or the people who are looking to hire them. Here's why:

  1. The economy is bad all over, not just in New York.
  2. Companies are cutting back on spending.
  3. Companies continue to outsource more work.
  4. Hiring freezes.

Upshot: The market may be ripe for hiring, but there's just not that many jobs out there.

According to a recent Fierce CIO report:

The Corporate Executive Board in Washington, D.C., surveyed 50 CIOs, and nearly 25% said they have imposed a hiring freeze, while half said they are cutting spending on consultants and contractors.
This position that everything will be coming up roses for out-of-work
IT workers sounds to me too much like Pollyanna and not enough like Aunt Polly.


I know this isn't much help if you're unable to fill positions or if you're looking for work, but I just can't be the optimist here. I will concede, however, to at least one potential (and realistic) bright spot in this debacle.

The day after the bankruptcy of investment bank Lehman Brothers and the takeover of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, high-profile venture capitalist (and blogger) Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital launched a new website:

"If you are one of those 150,000 employees, you might want to consider joining a startup. These days, startups are more stable than Wall Street (seriously). And while a startup probably won't offer the creature comforts of a job in the financial services industry, startups offer different benefits. You get to participate in the creation of something new. Your work makes a direct (and clear) impact on the success or failure of the company. No more politics, endless meetings, or multi-layered organization structures. Plus, you'll likely get stock options to share the upside."

Now, good luck finding a healthy startup.

Kate Evans-Correia was executive editor of To comment on this column, email

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