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Job market - UK vs US

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by OnFire, Oct 25, 2009.

  1. OnFire

    OnFire Nibble Poster

    I best give a bit of a background on this first and details of my own experiences.

    Hopefully I can get some insight from our American friends of which it would be very much appreciated.

    I am a British citizen and also a US Greencard holder. About 3 years ago, before the recession really got going I moved to the US for approx 8 months living in the Carolinas. After about 4 months waiting for my Employment Authorisation to come though, I started the job hunt.

    4 months later I hadn't even landed one job interview and at this point, running out of money, I returned to the UK. I have to admit at the time my resume wasn't that great, however using the same resume, I found a job in the UK within one week of the plane landing.

    At some point in the future I intent to return back to the US with the wife (American) to reside permanently, but I am a little scared by the prospect of getting there and having the same thing happen, especially after having to leave a perfectly good job here to go.

    Having lived in both countries I would say it is the following area that puzzles/scares me the most:

    Job posting descriptions:

    From the US

    Systems Engineer:

    To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.

    Windows Server Environment Administrator (Active Directory, DNS, DHCP, etc.)
    AIX/Linux Server Environment Administrator (SAMBA, Windows/Mainframe Integration a plus)
    LAN / WAN Network Engineer

    In-depth knowledge of Cisco & Dell routers, switches and switch management
    Basic knowledge of network architecture and configuration a major plus
    Network Traffic Monitor (Network Sniffers, MRTG or equivalent tools)
    BGP router technology (Fatpipe family of network appliances)
    Layer 3 Network administration (HSRP configuration, management & monitoring)
    Network Security (Symantec) & Firewall Administration (Pix, Cisco)
    Active Directory & Group Policy Administration (Desktop GPO Admin, ADS Schema Admin)
    Working knowledge of ODBC and XDBC implementation and administration
    Microsoft Exchange Administration, SMTP Gateway Admin, Spam Filtering (Fatpipe)
    Citrix Metaframe / IBM Bladecenter / VMWare Administration
    Microsoft SQL Server Administration (Deployment, Configuration & Database Admin)
    Network & Windows Systems Backup technology (Veritas BackupExec, LTO4 (Linear Tape Open 4), De-duplication, etc.)
    Microsoft Office Support
    Network Printers / Scanners and other network devices
    Windows Help Desk / Windows technical support (Secondary Role, Backs up Helpdesk)
    IT Procurement, Negotiation and Administration (License Mgmt, Vendor Relations, etc.)
    Must be able to adhere to IT documentation requirements, where applicable
    Must be able to meet deadlines as required.
    Must be able to adhere to quality control standards & IT best practices.
    Every employee is a safety officer and has a duty to maintain a safe work environment.

    Equivalent to either a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in Information Management, Computer Science, Business Administration, Mathematics, Public Administration, or an approved related field; and three (3) to five (5) years of progressively increasing levels of management responsibility and management experience in information management systems, local area computer networks, telephone systems, voice, video, and data telecommunication systems, internet and intranet systems and information systems support or equivalent. A Master's degree in Information Technology or Business Administration is desirable.

    In summary, I do not know anyone personally that could perform "each essential duty satisfactorily". I can think of 3/4 people who can do each one but without combining them all into one super admin I'm stuck. This is not the worse job advert I have seen, just one I found after a few minutes of searching.

    Would you said this is your average Systems Engineer role in the US or have recruiters just gone over board?

    This seems to differ from the UK were Job postings seems more focused for example, Windows Engineer, Linux Administrator, Cisco Specialist. You can expect some overlap of skills but not to this extent.
    Certifications: See Signature
    WIP: None....at last!!
  2. UKDarkstar
    Honorary Member

    UKDarkstar Terabyte Poster

    Can't comment on the US but after 18 months of job-hunting in the UK I can say I think your view of UK job ads is a little out of date.

    What I ams eeing across job boards and in discussion forums is a common complaint that in the UK employers/recruiters are not sticking to a specific role but adding many other qualities/areas and holding out for someone that can do them all.

    I think you have just been very lucky in getting something as soon as you've come back. The market seesm just as tough here as in the US to the rest of us.
    Certifications: BA (Hons), MBCS, CITP, MInstLM, ITIL v3 Fdn, PTLLS, CELTA
    WIP: CMALT (about to submit), DTLLS (on hold until 2012)
  3. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

    TBH, I have all the skills mentioned in that ad (and more). It's just a sad fact of life that systems engineers are now (and have been for about five hears) expected to also be network admins, DBAs, security admins, storage admins and fix kettles. It hasn't got to the extremes it is in the US (the company I work for is the British arm of a US firm and their systems department is even more understaffed than we are) but if you want to work in IT - especially at a senior technical level - you'll be expected to know and be able to do everything.

    However, what I tend to find is that a company advertising for a huge, broad range of skills is willing to pay a little more above the market rate for the best people - so at least there are some benefits to being a jack of all trades!
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  4. JK2447
    Highly Decorated Member Award 500 Likes Award

    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator

    This is exactly how I got my job with my current employer in the summer. My background is Mainframe Operations/Analysis (10 years) but in addittion to that I was a Team Leader for 8 years and was lucky to work for a company that let me work on Network/Server/IT Security sometimes for months at a time (these teams needed more resources and they didn't want to pay for new staff/contracts). The only downside was that obviously for a few hours a day and sometimes for months at a time, I'd have to go back to my Mainframe day job so to speak. I learned a lot but was the master of non (except mainframe ops).

    I was head hunted into my current role because of my companies shift into having teams of "Jack of all trades" that can be deployed as when needed and cuts down on the need to have dedicated specialists at sites. When you have 2 Network admins at a site if one is on holiday and the other sick their screwed. So what my company is doing now is encouraging everyone to cross skill but in the mean time, having a team like mine they can deploy who know a little about everything, which is enough to patch anything up until such a time that a speciaist can be deployed to a site (basically means they can employ less highly paid specialists).

    All in all I was selected not because of my network/server/IT Sec knowledge (I'm still learning and am no where near the likes of zeb, phonenix wagner, sparky etc) but because with Mainframes, there isn't any qualifications (except that BCS one but that wouldn't train you if you get me), years of experience is the only way to gain the skills and knowledge. I also have a god track record of turning teams around, hiring/firing etc. Whilst this is true of all disciplines in IT at least Network Support has the Cisco certs, Server MS certs, IT Sec CISSP etc to give someone the frame work on which to build to become a decent specialist. With mainframe skills becoming more and more rare, and the fact that in my previous employer I showed initiative by expanding my experience and skill set, I fitted in perfectly with my companies way of doing things. I've been very very lucky because I get free health insurance, pay is very good but most importantly they actively encourage me to broaden my skills into other areas because ultimately this means if I can configure some IP phones or run some mainframe batch jobs or audit some access logs, they have only had to send me (sometimes my team also but not always) and not a few people who are specialists at just one thing i.e. Network support. Like everything else in the world saving money is whats driving this trend, in my company at least, but as a result I'm on ten grand more than the majority of specialists who work for my company simply because I'm a Jack (well Jack TL).

    Just thought I'd share my experience
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV, VSP, VTSP
    WIP: AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
  5. OnFire

    OnFire Nibble Poster

    Many thanks for your opinions guys.

    I already thought I was a Jack of all but seemingly I just the Jack of some for now :)

    At least I know where to aim for although I guess I need to be careful as I expect the more areas I spread myself over the thinner the knowledge will be of each, which is why I was surprised by the number of areas in this advert. Also there is the dilemma of which areas to pick, since this is was just one job and other jobs may have different requirements such as IIS, Tivoli, SCCM, VBScript, etc.
    Certifications: See Signature
    WIP: None....at last!!
  6. OnFire

    OnFire Nibble Poster

    Darkstar I do both agree and disagree with you. Certainly the UK market is going with the trend of "one man army" type system admin roles, but I still think its no where near as bad just yet.

    I was lucky to land a job so soon on returning to the UK, however from there on I have never been stale and always kept an eye on the job market and acquired better positions. I can only say from my own experience, I applied for approx 200 jobs in the US and not one interview. I have applied in the UK for 20 jobs and had 7 offers, 2 of which I took and 3 of which were within in the last year.
    Certifications: See Signature
    WIP: None....at last!!
  7. Tieken

    Tieken Bit Poster

    Frankly, your view of the UK job market seems to be a bit outdated, I constantly come across bull*t of the same kind on the UK jobsites.

    It looks like employers don't know that a duck can swim, walk and fly, however equally badly. Also they tend to forget that one can get the job done 1. promptly, 2. cheaply, 3. well, with only two of the three options being possible together at a time though. And it's up to them which two options are more preferable. ;-)
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009
  8. dazza786

    dazza786 Megabyte Poster

    Ha, I like that analogy, rep :)
    Where abouts in manchester are you from?
    Certifications: MCP (271, 272, 270, 290, 291, 621, 681, 685), MCDST, MCTS, MCITP, MCSA, Security+, CCA(XA6.5)
  9. Tieken

    Tieken Bit Poster

    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  10. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    Well, I've got those skills. Not to the nth degree, but I have done all those things while working as a network admin. So it doesn't seem all that out-of-the-ordinary to me, particularly if those skills are important to the employer.

    That said, there ARE jobs over here in the US that don't require this massive of a skillset. Perhaps you're just looking for jobs that are above your experience level.
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  11. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

    Hmm, took me five months to get a job over here
    but I pretty much knew that already, and most of that was waiting for the opening to happen at the place I was wanting to work (I met a guy at VMWorld the year before and we were in talks)

    Eventually it opened up, ant it was a fun ride waiting for it to all happen

    There are however some significant different considerations when job hunting in the US

    Location Location Location
    The US is a VAST place, many of its towns and cities are TINY compared to the British equivalents, close to 80% of the UK population lives in a handful of large cities, that's not the case here, and I chose to live in probably one of the smallest state capitals in the union, go figure! It's harder to find the right role, there are less to choose from, but at the same time a much smaller pool of competition

    Setting your destination requirements first lock you in, I did it, and it made it harder to work, I almost took a contract job in Oregon but would of meant staying in a hotel on my own dime for the duration, if it was a permy job I would of had to move 700 miles, this is not something that seems to be all that rare over here, lots of people move around for their job, even within a company (Our EMC rep just moved from here to SFO for his new position, same company, and had to lug his family with him)

    Its worth noting too, that I have had plenty of jobs in the UK that had similar requirements to that listed, broad lists like that are exactly that, broad, you dont often need to have 100% of them, they are fishing
    that said, theres also a good chance you wont need to be too deep in any of them, they are unlikely using each of those apps to their full potential, or they wouldnt need them all in the first place!

    Plan Ahead
    Moving to the US was not a cheap endeavor for me, I left the UK with close to $30'000 in savings after the lovely 2:1 exchange rate back in 08, a year later I'm probably more than $30'000 in debt, two cars, credit card bills and whatever else I had to put down to keep my head above water till the job rolled in
    just like back home, the debts are falling, the savings are building back up, but it's going to take time, I knew that, and I did what I could for it, have you considered having your wife move over and get a job and settled prior to your arrival? its hard, but no harder than the months we spent apart during the whole process anyway

    Abandoning your green card is a big issue, and it makes it a lot harder the second time round from what I have heard, as its a spouse based one it likely wont mean you cant get one again, but they will certainly grill you the second time around, if your out of the country for X months your green card can be revoked (doesn't mean it will be, but in most cases i've heard it is) and it happens at the border, so from what I know your stuck at the immigration desk waiting to get put back on a plane home, never fun

    EAD I guess was a pain, I had a full IR-1 visa when I moved, no EAD required, I was good to go, Fiance visas generally require the EAD when you do an AOS, as the fiance visa itself has no work auth attached to it, your married now so the process may well be different the next time round

    and you may have to deal with the fact you need to start off in a larger city where people and corps have more exposure to hiring visa holders, the pool is more saturated, but so is the demand, that or start networking before you go and look for an 'in'

    Remember once you have a full green card, that's actually still valid, you can apply for US jobs from the UK just like you would a UK one, most job ads will have the restriction of 'US Citizen or green card holder only' listed
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, VCP
    WIP: > 0
  12. OnFire

    OnFire Nibble Poster

    Many thanks for all your input, especially Phoenix.

    My Greencard has definately expired (Out of the US for longer than 12 months) however I'm hoping not to have too much trouble in reapplying. I will be DCF within the UK and hopefully acquire AOS/EAD well in advance moving over so I can start applying before actually residing there.

    I have visited the US after my Greencard has expired without an issue on the VWP and was just told at the desk to reapply for GC if I wanna live here again :) Either way I will be glad once the Visa part of it is over as it was a difficult process the first time around and I basically have to start it all again.

    Location is still to be determined but will likely be the East coast, thinking Boston, Jacksonville, NYC....time will tell as it depends where the wife is accepted into college although its likely to be City. Relocation will certainly be considered it nothing is going on where we live at the time.

    No doubt money will be tight until I find a position and I am saving like crazy to give us a one year buffer before we are truly screwed.

    Thanks again
    Certifications: See Signature
    WIP: None....at last!!
  13. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

    DCF for an IR-1 or CR-1 Visa basically is a Green card

    its a visa until the point of entry, when its stamped its your green card until the actual card arrives, no EAD/AP required, just have to go get a SSN and your good to go

    but for DCF to be filed in London your wife needs to of lived there with you for a period of time, not sure how long

    also if you have been married less than two years when your visa is granted it will be a CR-1 conditional for two years, if you have been married over two years it will be an IR-1, good for 10 years
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, VCP
    WIP: > 0

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