Although it's too early to conclude that the recession has hit bottom, at least some recent economic reports have been are a bit more promising. In April, the Conference Board's labor market barometer, the Employment Trends Index, recorded its smallest monthly decline since June 2008, with three of its eight components actually showing improvement. This caused some observers to predict - cautiously - an upturn in hiring during the fourth quarter.

If you've been hunkered down in your present job, just waiting to make a move, now's the time to swing into action. On average, it takes job seekers three to six months to consummate a change, and recessions are usually followed by periods of high turnover as employees act on pent-up demand for new careers. While this will only heighten the opportunities for properly positioned IT professionals, the key is to be in front of the trend. Take these steps now to position yourself to snag your ideal job at the very moment it becomes available.

  • Pursue the hidden job market: Be the top candidate for your dream job by contacting line managers and sending them your resume. Do it now. Many of these newly opened positions may never be posted on job boards, as cuts to internal recruiting staffs make it difficult to screen large numbers of resumes. Once managers get the green light to hire, they'll want to move quickly, especially if they already have the ideal candidate in their sights.
  • Get the word out: While it may be too dangerous to throw your hat into the ring during the depths of the recession, at some point you'll have to take some risk to negotiate a job change. Revise your resume and start letting trusted contacts and recruiters know you're on the market, so you're in position when the window of opportunity opens.
  • Network with tech vendors and consultants: Find out which companies are planning to make IT investments either later this year or in early 2010. These companies will begin hiring to meet those initiatives during this year's fourth quarter. If one of those companies is on your target list, use the inside information your glean from your contacts to initiate a conversation with a manager about future hiring needs.

-- Leslie Stevens-Huffman