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'Specialist or Generalist?' May Not Be the Question

Bynum said nearly three-quarters of 685 personnel executives her association interviewed said the nature of tech work has become more diverse.

The field "is becoming a lot more customer-oriented and product-based," Bynum said. "Sitting in front of a computer all day long is not a realistic view of what many IT workers do."

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Career consultant Lenore Webb said she regularly hears from businesses that want graduates with "domain knowledge," a deeper background in how to use programming, database or other tech acumen in industries such as banking, government contracting and military work.

"The people who graduate from our program and who are getting jobs are trying to leverage skills from past areas," said Webb, of George Mason University's Train to Technology unit.

At the same time, Webb said, every company has room for a superstar Java programmer or an Oracle database whiz. She said techies should ask themselves whether they might grow bored and want to branch out into management or analyst roles later in their careers.

Options Watch

After a long and insufferable tax season, employees who earn stock options as sweeteners to their compensation packages soon could have reason to breathe easy. Rep. Amo Houghton (R-N.Y.) introduced a bill in the House earlier this month that would exempt incentive stock options from Social Security and other employment taxes. Workers who buy shares in their company through an employee stock-purchase plan could also avoid paying employment taxes when they buy or sell the shares. More details on the bill, H.R. 2695, are available at http://thomas.loc.gov.

On Tap

Looking to mix and mingle or find a new job? Two upcoming events could do the trick.

A pink-slip party kicks off at the Capitol City Brewing Co. in Baltimore on Sept. 10. Another pink-slip event is scheduled for Sept. 12 at the Capitol City location in downtown Washington. For more information, go to www.pinkslipevent.com.

Send tips, gripes and your impressions on punching the virtual time clock to Carrie Johnson at johnsonca@washpost.com.

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