The high-tech industry is producing other jobs in an array of areas.
“Technology would include all of the companies that manufacture hardware and software. Then you have all the companies that provide hardware and software for communications companies, particularly broadband and wireless,” says Rodrigo Ocampo, managing director for Latin America at A.T. Kearney Inc., an international recruiting firm. “And then there are the companies that provide consulting services to the technology arena, which are in tremendous demand as well.”
Particularly desirable are consultants for the so-called dot corps – traditional brick-and-mortar companies that realize the Internet can be used to decrease costs, increase sales, and network effectively with clients – according to Mr. Ocampo.
In-demand job fields also include finance and financial services.
“Finance always has a certain level of demand for talented people, because it is the most basic of all businesses,” he says. “There’s always a need for people who make decisions on how to deploy capital – so those who do that well are in demand.”
Experience often is the key to getting hired, Mr. Ocampo says.
“What’s needed are people who can bridge the gap with regard to understanding the new technology, who also have experience where that technology is going to be deployed,” he explains.
It’s difficult to predict whether the information-technology field will eventually become oversaturated with job candidates.
“What we can draw from the previous technology waves is that new technological possibilities are being developed all the time,” says Mr. Ocampo. Examples of new technology are high bandwidth, short-distance connections for communication between wireless devices and technology that marries cellular communication with global-positioning systems.
Like Mr. Smith, Mr. Ocampo believes that Hispanics are particularly well positioned to take advantage of the current job market.
“To have an understanding of technology, you need an understanding of engineering,” he says. “And Latin American countries historically are very good at producing engineers. Chile and Brazil are famous for engineering.
“I don’t know where the United States lost its way in education,” he continues. “But its failings are significantly pronounced in math – which is the underpinning of engineering.”
He also feels that Hispanics – especially in Latin America – are accustomed to change, and versatility is a trait that serves them well in the fast-changing high-tech job world.
“You have to be able to adapt to changing scenarios, because this technology is changing so fast,” Mr. Ocampo notes. “People in Latin America have had to deal with tremendous upheaval at the macro level – political and financial upheaval. These people are very adaptable, which is a characteristic that the new economy demands.”
Advanced degrees can put minority job candidates in particularly desirable positions. Those with master’s degrees in business administration are in great demand now, according to the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA).
NSHMBA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to Hispanic leadership through graduate management education and professional development, recently conducted surveys of the nation’s top companies in the consulting, technology, and consumer goods industries. The results confirm that mid-career professionals can increase their marketability by obtaining an MBA, especially if they are considering a new line of work. Survey respondents preferred MBA candidates with previous work experience, good people skills, and leadership or entrepreneurial skills. The most marketable candidates are those educated at traditional universities who have specialized in such areas as finance, marketing, supply-chain management, or logistics.
“Given the economy, students are in the driver’s seat,” says John Honaman, executive director of the Dallas-based organization. “Know what you love and find a place that has a culture where you can learn, grow, and enjoy your work,” he advises. “If [a company’s] programs don’t leverage your background or education, pushing your way in may become self-limiting. Certain companies are considered ‘hot,’ but candidates should really be looking for fit,” he says.
To attract minority candidates, many corporations are stepping up recruitment, and partnering with student associations, at universities with high minority populations, according to the survey. Some establish relationships with professors capable of identifying top students, who are then invited to meet recruiters.
Other companies use existing employee resources to help identify minority job candidates, or they resort to such benefits as signing bonuses to attract top candidates, according to the survey. Marketing MBAs are particularly in demand as more students turn to consulting and working for dot-com companies.
The survey provided some insight into what companies expect from their minority employees as well.
“We need a strong understanding of the culture they represent. It is not good enough just to be ‘of color.’ They need to understand the marketplace and be able to articulate strategies to influence our consumers in those markets,” said one respondent.
Another respondent recommended that would-be job seekers be willing to relocate, and suggested that they review and consider the total compensation package as opposed to just salary. “Think about what your ideal company looks like,” the respondent advised. “Find a company that meets your needs – i.e., structured vs. flexible, large vs. small, industry health vs. consumer products, business casual vs. business attire, work-life balance. Research the company to ensure they can provide what you need and want out of a career.”
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