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The Dot Com Bust - Part 2


The Dot-Com DBA Bust - Part 2

We've all seen the dot-com bubble burst. Every week companies are laying people off. And not just dot-com companies, but large companies like Cisco, Dell, etc. are making their staffs leaner. Last year I wrote an article about the job market while (I thought) the dot com bubble had burst and the economy was slogging through the aftermath. Little did I know that a year later it would still be going and extend far beyond the dot coms.

My Story - 2002

When I last wrote about this, I was working at IQDestination.com (IQD). In April of 2002, after lasting much longer than anyone, except maybe the owners, expected, we ran out of money. We laid off a large percentage of the staff at IQD on a Friday, after a major hardware failure on Wednesday. I was in a meeting discussing what to do when the CEO came in and told us. He was trying a last ditch attempt to raise money and planned to try and run the business with about 10 or so people. It failed and we were all formally launched the next Tues or Wed. I wrote about it at the dkRanch.net.

So I was out of work, filed for unemployment (a joke) immediately, and started sending out resumes. An interesting side effect was the a former client had escrowed the source code (a good idea, by the way, if you are a small guy trying to sell to big guy) and hired me with a couple others for some consulting. Ended up being only a day for me, but supported a few friends for awhile. Since then, they've actually had good luck reselling and using out platform. At least a little validation we built something good.

Kind of funny as well, the Intellectual Property was purchased by a broker and has been resold since then a number of times. Kept our former CTO busy with consulting. Good for him, he's a friend of mine.

After a month of Mr. Mom time with the kids, probably 50 resumes to targeted companies, I got two interviews.


I suspected part of it was that I was overqualified, but when I say targeted, I mean I have about 12 different resumes. Each with a different look for different positions. Management, windows admin, SQL developer, SQL DBA, etc. I match the resume for the job.

Interview 1 - strange guy, but decent company. Large company as well.

Interview 2 - JD Edwards. I like the people, but it's an operations job. Not sure it's what I want.

After 2 interviews with each, I'm leaning towards the first company, but not by much. More interesting people at JD Edwards, but it's a software company and I'm leery. Supposed to hear from company 1 on a particular week on wed. Had the 2nd JD interview that Mon and they were "in the next two weeks".

I get called Thurs by JD and offered a job. After 2 months of not working, I accept, set a start date, and get more money than I expected.

A month later I still hadn't heard from company 1. Neither had the recruiter. What's the deal with people? I guess they have the upper hand and f** the candidates. Oh well, I won't apply there again.

I started with JD Edwards in June. Enjoy it and like the team and company. Looking forward to spending some years here. Some of my friends from IQD are still unemployed. Not many, but a few. A few others got jobs after I did.

August 2002 - The US

A quick check on Monster for "sql server dba" brings back 298 jobs. A good concentration in the NY and TX areas. Lots of good jobs. Most are for local candidates, in other words, no relocation given. Doesn't seem too bad, especially if you have some other skills, there are jobs. Dice shows 318 jobs with similar results. Seem to be a fair number in FL as well.

But they might not be in your area.

And the salaries might be lower.

Not so bad. I always thought many of the salaries got a little out of hand.

Of course, it's still a scary world. Companies are still dropping people like flies. My wife's company has 3 mandatory "shut down" weeks where people have to burn their vacation. No choice. Plus they had layoffs.

And it's not just in the technology industry. There are plenty of headlines in any number of industries that are letting people go. The good news is that a DBA with some other skills, like networking, would probably be more valuable then a Windows administrator. You might be asked to double up your workload, but you would still be employed.

If you're likeable.

I've talked to people and read through some postings where people are confused (and angry) about being let go. My feeling is this.

It's a personality thing. When a manager gets asked to lop off people, he will let slackers go, but probably right after the people who annoy him or her. Especially if there is any chance someone else can do their jobs.

If it comes down to two people and the skills are remotely close (or could be), the one who is better liked will survive.

Just an FYI. Human nature and emotions often overrule logic, so while I don't like to kiss a**, I don't go out of my way to tick people off either.

August 2002 - Colorado

A similar check shows 6 jobs in Colorado.


In Silicon Valley East. Dice has 4, none of which is a real SQL Server DBA. 2 are Oracle with SQL Server experience and 2 are developers.

Colorado has been decimated by the economic woes of the country. We have lots of telecom and lots of startups here. Or had. Starting to wonder if Lucent, Avaya, Qwest, Worldcom, etc. will even be here in a year. It's amazing.

The jobs? Jack of all trades developer type jobs. At lower salaries. It's not a great time to be looking for work in Colorado.


There are still prospects out there for DBAs. Not all companies have them, but they are likely to keep one if they do. Most likely the DBA will survive longer than most other jobs. Of course, lots of that depends on how many DBAs there are and how much work, and, of course, how the databases perform. Be sure you understand that the perception of your value is tied tightly to how well your databases perform. Read this as "keep them up". Do your maintenance, don't get fancy or creative and stick to simple, best practices that work.

This is a work in progress and I hope that I will get some stories from the field letting me know good, bad, status, etc. about what it is like being a SQL Server DBA. Send your stories to Steve Jones.

Steve Jones

September 2002


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