Fluck applied his analytical skills to the problem and realized he had to upgrade his repertoire and bide his time until the tech outlook improved improved. His survey of the job market convinced him that he should learn Ruby on Rails, the hottest language in the industry. (InfoWorld's Peter Wayner has surveyed Ruby and the other six ascendant programming languages. He's also surveyed which scripting languages are worth investing in.) Rather than returning to school, he founded his own company and developed a website called Footbalistic crammed with soccer statistics for the rabid fan. It was hardly a coincidence that its architecture is based on Ruby.
Footbalistic failed, but not before Fluck had mastered Ruby on Rails and gained more than two years of demonstrable experiencing using it. By last spring, he was ready to attack the job market again. He posted his résumé on a Monday evening and by 7:30 a.m. the next morning had gotten at least 20 calls, some from recruiters with leads to multiple positions. "If I hadn't taken down my résumé, I would have had to hire a secretary," he jokes. Before long, he had a trio of actual offers, then a new job.
How strong is the tech jobs boom? Right now, the market for men and women in high-tech looks very strong. "It feels a lot like the late '90s," says Axel Kratell, who had little trouble landing a job as a product manager at Kaazing, a company developing applications of the HTML5 WebSocket protocol, after a stint with Cisco Systems.
Talk to anybody in tech and you'll hear analogies to the dot-com boom. A lot has changed since then, but today's job market is nearly as hot.
One way to gauge the growth is to look at job listings on Dice, one of the oldest and likely the largest techie job board in the country. At the beginning of 2010, there were 48,571 listing for tech jobs, including contract and part-time positions. That total has climbed steadily every month. At the beginning of October 2011, Dice listed 83,567 openings, an increase of 72% over January 2010, and 18% higher than October 2010.
Dice is admittedly an imperfect barometer of the job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were just under 3.3 million people working in IT-related technology jobs in the United States as of May 2010. But because the bureau has been hurt by budget cuts, it will not publish more current statistics until well into 2012.