A software developer focuses his job search on financial services and lands a job at Dow Jones.
Sameer Kohli knew it was time for a change when his former employer, digital marketing company 24/7 Real Media, was acquired by communications-services firm WPP in May 2007.
“You just know when your company is taken over by a larger firm that they’re going to make lots of changes,” Kohli said, “and that was one of the main reasons I decided to leave.”
Kohli, 35, had been working on multiplatform digital-marketing and search tools as a software developer for 24/7 Real Media. He said he’d always known he’d pursue a career in software development, and has been working in the field for about 11 years.
The Ewing, N.J., resident began his search for a new position in a fairly traditional way: networking with colleagues and registering on Internet job search sites like Monster.com and Dice.com.
Kohli said while his resume generated sporadic interest from these sites, he knew he had to jumpstart his search. He decided to focus his efforts on opportunities in the financial-services market and signed up at a site called eFinancialCareers.com to pursue lucrative financial-services software opportunities. But he said despite these efforts, he wasn’t getting far.
“My search was going OK, I guess. But I knew I needed to have more focus if I wanted to move into a career in the finance industry,” he said.
Doubling down on financial services
Kohli signed up as a member of TechnologyLadder to hone his search. He said perseverance and his focus only on software and financial services really made a difference, and he began to notice an increase in the number of responses his resume generated.
“I knew where my career path was going, and I knew I just needed to get more focused on this area,” he said.
That intensity paid off, and Kohli landed a job with Dow Jones, headquartered in New York. The company also has an office in South Brunswick, N.J. close to Kohli’s home.
Thriving in a troubled industry
Kohli has now been in his position as an application development consultant with Dow Jones for about a year. Despite the recent economic turbulence, he said he sees incredible opportunity in a market some may write off as doomed.
“Whatever your area of expertise is in software, [the sector] is going to keep growing,” he said. Even as companies are laying off personnel and shuttering projects in non-business-critical areas, he said new opportunities are opening up for developers who can bring cutting-edge software to market and help businesses create efficiencies and save money.
Kohli cites as an example a former Dow Jones colleague – in fact, the very person who’d hired him – who was laid off recently. He said that colleague was let go after a 15-year tenure at Dow Jones but was able to land a higher-paying, higher-level position as vice president of software development for PR Newswire.
“Because of his skills, that layoff was a great thing for him, since he was able to move up the ladder and get a better position for himself,” Kohli said.
Predicting a demand for skills and specialties
Analysts predict heavy declines in IT spending in the financial services industry for 2009 as firms slash budgets for costly projects including infrastructure and software. Despite projections of spending drops between 4 percent and 15 percent, analysts say there are some growth areas in outsourcing and integration services and for companies serving smaller commercial banks.
Most financial-services firms will remain focused on cost-cutting while putting off or eliminating projects like enterprise risk-management systems or upgrades to customer management systems, according to analysis from The Tower Group, a Massachusetts-based analyst firm.
Financial-services companies will seek technologies that enhance their ability to predict market conditions and mitigate risk, and analysts also predict that as the megabanks fail, mergers and acquisitions will spur greater demand for integration services and related software.
Outsourcing, too, may see a resurgence as banks look for other ways to cut personnel costs, according to a November 2008 report by Financial Insights, a subsidiary of IDC research focused on the financial-services industry.
“Software is a pretty safe market, despite the economy, even in financial services,” Kohli said. While layoffs in the industry were widespread and even affected his new company, Kohli said he’s confident in his position and his skills.