Are there enough SQL Server professionals to go around? Last year I explored this topic (“Is There a Shortage of SQL Server Experts?”) from the perspective of companies with exceptionally complex and high-end SQL Server needs. Senior Microsoft employees had shared market research that said some companies were hesitant to commit to SQL Server because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to attract the right candidates with the right skills. They felt more comfortable in the Oracle market because the talent pool was perceived to be deeper in that space. This week I want to explore the topic from the perspective of “normal” companies. What do I mean by a normal company? I’m talking about the sort of company that most of you work for. Most companies don’t manage 100TB, manage thousands of servers, or have any of the other massive requirements that it’s fun to read about. Most companies are, well, normal.

Are there enough SQL Server professionals for these normal companies? In this job market you would certainly think the answer is yes. However, I’ve collected some interesting anecdotal data over the past few months. Many of the stories I’ve heard indicate that normal companies are struggling to find the right SQL Server people they need. I’m aware of jobs that stay open for months. And I know of SQL Server professionals who find their next job within hours of leaving their past job. However, I also know of some pretty senior folks who have been looking for the right next thing for a while. It’s also easy to lump all jobs and people under the category of “SQL Server professional,” but it’s pretty apparent to me that the demand for all SQL Server jobs isn’t equal. For example, business intelligence folks seem to be a very scarce resource these days, and there are certainly different skill sets within the BI community that are scarcer than others.

Let’s say your company folds and you lose your job tomorrow. Would you rather be the SQL Server professional who gets their next job in a day or be the one who is stuck in limbo for a month? Of course you want to find a new job in a day. Here’s a harder question. What are you doing to prepare yourself to be the SQL Server professional who gets their next job offer in a day?

I’m planning to cover this topic in-depth over multiple posts SQL Server Magazine blog L.E.A.P. Think. (L.E.A.P. stands for leadership, entrepreneurism, and professional development.) But I think this is theme that all SQL Server pros should ponder. What am I doing today to prepare me for my next job? What skills am I developing that make me indispensible? The answers to those questions aren’t obvious and will require some reflection. But I believe in you. I think you have better answers than you might be willing to give yourself credit for.

I have a challenge for you. Spend at least an hour over the next week reflecting on this topic. Finding the answers will improve your career even if the next time you need to look for a job is a decade away.