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Has the analog job market emerged into daylight? Certainly brighter times are upon us

We have noticed a strong emergence from the lackluster job market which has lasted three years. Our phones at both Analog Solutions and Career Analog (job posters and job seekers) have been extremely active over the last sixty days as companies have determined the time is right to focus on building and growing. The downturn reflected a pervasive attitude towards self-preservation and cash conservation at the expense of growth. Most organizations were seeing limited sales and lower revenues as they worked through inventories that were quite large. I believe this turnaround to be sustainable without new demand and shrinking inventories.

Companies are now in the midst of setting new growth strategies as they seek to gain competitive advantages. The job market appears to be comprised of both smaller start-ups as well as public companies. In addition, the time seems to be right for the VC's to open the coffers and begin a more aggressive campaign to fund companies. Most of the VCs I have spoken to recently feel that they have seen increased investor confidence, and are seeing a number of start-ups that have solid upside potential. Almost all companies we talked with report a solid upturn in sales and earnings results and the belief is that this will continue into 2005.

Consequently, we're seeing analog job requisitions in several key areas including WiFi (wireless LANs and Internet access), ultra wideband technology (UWB) and power management. Demand for designers with expertise in high-speed data conversion seems to be high across a variety of industries.

At the height of communications funding bubble, designers of Serdes, CDR (clock-data recovery) and PLL (phase-locked loops) could count on receiving 10 job offers almost as soon as they flashed their resumes. While the comms bubble has burst, there remain a number of openings for designers with solid analog experience.

The talent pool, already populated by mid-level engineers, has shifted as well: The number of seasoned designers willing to explore new opportunities is increasing. During the downturn, this group seemed resist recruitment efforts, perhaps hesitant to venture far from the security of their current employment session. With the turnaround, many of the same engineers are expressing openness to new situations.

The most adventurous analog designers are seeking a technology challenge. Previously attracted to high salaries or startup company stock options, this group says “type of work” is the most important consideration for a job change ” higher up on the scale that salaries or location.

As the employment market starts to heat up, it may be important for both companies and candidates to evaluate search firms and recruiters. Just as the semiconductor world has experienced a change in landscape so to has the recruiting industry. A large number of recruiting firms have fallen by the way side, only to be replaced by new, sometimes inexperienced recruiters, many looking to profit from the upturn. But that can make for big differences among recruiters in general. For analog employers and candidates, the decision on who to go with should definitely consider the length of time the recruiter has servicing our particular industry. The recruiter should understand the kind of specialization that analog engineering requires. A well-seasoned professional with a long tenure can offer added value by having access to a high number of the most highly qualified people.

Candidates too must understand the unique differences between the true specialist and the average recruiter who occasionally focuses on analog/mixed signal assignments. The part timers will often send resumes to companies based on seeing an advertisement. But an experienced recruiter will have direct access to (in many cases, a personal relationship with) the actual department head within the client company. This access brings a higher level understanding of the client's need as well as insights into the job opportunity itself. Using his understanding of the analog world, the experienced recruiter will aid in the process companies use to extend an offer, and ensure that both parties truly understand each other's positions in the negotiation phase.

I am excited to report that the semiconductor melt down has seemed to reverse its course and we should all look forward to more rewarding times. I welcome your thoughts, feedback and ideas for future columns. I can be reached at Analog Solutions 865-458-441 or gary@analogsolutions.com

If you are company looking for analog engineering talent, go to www.analogsolutions.com.

If you are an engineer, exploring new employment options, come to www.careeranalog.com.

I'm looking forward to speaking with you.

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