I strongly disagree with one small bit of this: "Hit the job boards and see what the largest technology need is and get to work learning it."
This is optimizing for finding jobs available via job boards. These jobs generally disproportionately suck, in the way that applicants from job boards also disproportionately suck. Do not willingly sign up to be either participant in two blind geriatric elephants attempting to tango.
Instead, survey the hiring market which is actually decent to be in, where decisionmakers hire people directly. This does require talking to people, but only a little bit. "Why hello, CEO I just met at a networking event. Quick question: what can't you hire for right now?"
The answer you'll get to this question is going to sound a lot more like "devs who speak SEO" than "Enterprise Java monkey." I've been both. One is much, much better than the other in terms of material and non-material rewards to working.
The point of owning your self improvement and taking pay cuts to learn is very true. Most of my big bumps followed tactical stepdowns. People who only chase today's dollars are suboptimizing.
The one point I disagree with the author is referrals. It doesn't matter the finders fee, I always try to help with the connection. It's karma. If you aren't doing it for karma, 500 and 5000 are both too cheap.
I watch for places I could refer friends. But at this point, I probably get 8-10 job queries per week between LinkedIn, email and phone. I don't know 1% as many Rails programmers (or embedded/mobile programmers, or misc other things I get bugged for) as I have recruiters asking for referrals.
Besides, what if the recruiter and the job both suck? All I know is they're willing to email me cold, usually with a job that sounds like it's no fun. That doesn't make me want to pass it on to my friends, you know?
Good points. I guess the caveat is I know a lot of unemployed folks who appreciate the connection. It is true - if you don't know of a match, don't make the connection. I'd still assert that the $500 or $5,000 still doesn't make a difference in that case.
If you're doing a favor, you don't need the money. If you're professionally searching, you deserve a much higher share of the fee.
Good advice, but I would modify it a bit: instead of just letting job skill statistics from job boards inform your choices of where to invest learning time, I would tailor it more to what potential customers and employers who approach you ask for.
I spend my learning time split between Java technologes (huge job market) and Ruby + Lisp languages (smaller job market, but still plenty of work).
BTW, Jay's book "Refactoring, the Ruby Edition" is very good. Obie Fernandez (the series editor) sent me a copy a few months ago and I really enjoyed it. Recommended.