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Consequences of long unemployed period ??

Andreas Nerlich
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 21, 2000
Posts: 12
Hi there!
In June this year I became a SCJP after studying non-stop for three months. I had no prior programming knowledge at all. I have a mechanical engineering degree but am I totally committed in becoming a programmer. Being unemployed I have been looking for work here in South Africa until middle August, not being successful. So, I decided to focus my job search in Europe (I hold German citizenship). In the mean time I have purchased some books on JDBC, EJB, Servlets etc, to learn what is so often required.
My problem is, that one just doesn't learn all this within a couple of weeks. Let alone having programming samples on the net. It takes time and is definitely not easy learning! I am worried what recruiters or possible employers might think of this long unemployed period (June 2000 - now) I currently have in my Curriculum Vitae. And the fact that I have had no offers let alone decent interviews!
What am I to do to improve my situation? Should I just carry on learning and not worry about the passing time? When are you ready for a trainee/junior Java programming job position?
Frustrated but Hopeful!
Andreas
[This message has been edited by Andreas Nerlich (edited October 21, 2000).]
J Fitzryan
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 21, 2000
Posts: 8
You might get asked what you did during the gap, but just have a canned reply ready, something like "It was a mixture of vacation and professional development." Noone will care. Use the time to learn J2EE and design patterns.
Tony Alicea
Desperado
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 3222
    
    5
Andreas:
I was voluntarily unemployed for two years in what may be the world's greatest economy (I'm open to corrections) and then I got a great job as a Java Programmer with good pay.
To make a long story short, my story is already written here in the last post of three:
http://www.javaranch.com/ubb/Forum37/HTML/000115.html
And the Resumé I used, for which there are no public links, is in:
http://alicea.org/resume


Tony Alicea
Senior Java Web Application Developer, SCPJ2, SCWCD
Andreas Nerlich
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 21, 2000
Posts: 12
Thanks guys for the reply! In that case I'll keep on studying and keep my dream (Java Programmer) alive.
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
Andreas:
I have an employment gap of 14 months on my resume from Oct 1999 to now (Dec 2000). Prior to that is a layoff after only 6 months with a company.

What I tell employers (try to use gap to my advantage):
Basically, I was being sponsored for Ph.D. Comp Sci by last company. Company laid me off (company wide layoffs 500 people) in middle of first semester of Ph.D. program. I decided to finish out first semester.
I then decided to sit in classes for 2nd semester - but could not get University credit for classes since the classes run over $800/credit (US$2500 per class). In the meantime, I tried to find another local sponsor - but no go.
So I decided to drop out of Ph.D. program and spent a month or two deciding my future. Then I spent last 5 or 6 months studying for Java Certification Exam.
----
I automatically provide references (names & phone numbers) of people at the comapny where I was laid off at. I also attach copies of my Master's & PhD transcripts to the employment application. Every company I talked to had me fill out one of those "Burger King" or "McDonalds" type applications.
Surprisingly, not one company EVER (this is the 3rd time in 5 yrs I have looked for a computer job), has contacted my references. I did once have a security guard company (needed minimum wage job to pay for fishing trip out west), call my professor at Lehigh University to verify that I was a student there.
---
In today's market, if you have the skills, the employment gap does not seem to matter. You can always say you were studying for the certification exam (which is what I do). Of course, you need to be prepared for a technical interview. And it is at the tech interview that you get to separate yourself from the others.
Hope this helps,
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)

John Coxey
Evansville, Indiana, USA
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Taking time off is never a problem. I know plenty of people who need to "find themselves."
But if you want to be productive, think of a large project you would like to do, and then do it. This way you can say you have xperience 9as opposed to ahving just learned <insert Java topic here> from reading books. Can't think of a project? I'm sure there are lots of non-profit orgs (locally, and throughout the world) that would love with their web sites or other technical needs.
--Mark
hershey@eyeshake.com
Julie McCarthy
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 28, 2000
Posts: 21
Just be prepared to explain it. Lengthy gaps of employment are red flags to employers. I would suggest accounting for the time in the body of the resume. I did this when formatting my mother's resume, for instance - she took time off to care for a sick family member. In subsequent screens and interviews, the gap was never an issue and didn't overshadow her qualifications.


[size=10]Be alert. We need more lerts.[/size]
Eric Barnhill
Rancher

Joined: Feb 25, 2000
Posts: 233

Maha, are you listening?
maha anna
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 31, 2000
Posts: 1467
Yes Eric. I am
Just yesterday Dec 6th,2000 I been offered a Java job with title as 'Senior Java Developer' in a Raleigh based firm. Like some of you posted here I also had to take looong break in my career for 4 years in order to take care of my son's health issue. Previoulsy I was working for 4 years professionally. But for the last 2 years as our son became better, parally started preparing myself in java area.
But back of my mind I was wondering how employers going to treat me. Even I talked to Eric about this. But beleive or not, people look at your CURRENT SKILLS and try to see if your skills can help them achive their goals.
For this offer I had to go through a series of 3 TECHNICAL INTERVIEWS. First 2 are phone interviews , each lasted about 20 mins. But the last one (yesterday's) was SOLID 3 ( 2 pm to 5 pm) hours technical interview with a panel of 9 people ranging from Director of S/W dev, Architect to Developers shooting technical questions one after another continuously. They said I did pretty well and offerd a job immediately I came out of the room. Didn't really expect that. They said they will offer H1 sponsorship also.
I think if you impress them with your current knowledge and if that's what they want right now, the long gap doesn't play a role. Recently I developed a full fledged Servlet /JSP/JDBC application for an IT company and got permission from them to put the demo version at www.webappcabaret.com/maha/index.html This REALLY impressed them a lot and they aksed in and out of the application from design , coding upto performance issues. (May be to confirm if we are the one who really done that )
So if we do some small project and upload to web, we are in a better position I think. They even took time to go through some of the discussion thread which I collected and put at www.javaranch.com/maha site. They didn't ask why there was a big gap seriously. But they did ask everything about what I am doing currently.
Also what I observed was, they don't expect IMMEDIATE CORRECT answer for DIFFICULT questions. But they really observe how we go about takle the issue. Of course for simple questions, they expect us to undestand them immediately and give the correct answers. After 3 hours interview they all said they are run out of questions.
Regards,
maha anna

[This message has been edited by maha anna (edited December 07, 2000).]
Eric Barnhill
Rancher

Joined: Feb 25, 2000
Posts: 233

Maha,
It sounds like you blew them away to me. Nobody around here will be surprised to hear that. Congratulations. Keep us posted on how it all goes.
maha anna
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 31, 2000
Posts: 1467
Thank you Eric.
regds
maha anna
Liu Zhensheng
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 28, 2000
Posts: 5
Hi, Maha,
Great job, congratulation from my deep heart...
Liu Zhensheng
Randall Twede
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2000
Posts: 4347
    
    2

maha,
this part of your reply
Recently I developed a full fledged Servlet /JSP/JDBC application for an IT company and got permission from them to put the demo version at www.webappcabaret.com/maha/index.html This REALLY impressed them a lot and they aksed in and out of the application from design , coding upto performance issues.
really encourages me. I am SCJP and have brainbench certificates in java and html but I have no formal education in this field. I am hoping my full fledged Servlet/JSP/JDBC application at http://javaguy.yi.org (it is my own server too and is not always online) will take the place of work experience. I dont know my chances but I must try. I have had some email inquiries which is encouraging and now that I am certified I will send two of them resumes.


SCJP
Visit my download page
maha anna
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 31, 2000
Posts: 1467
Randall,
It will surely help you! Also you have to sell well yourself. That's the key. Use more technical terms while talking and try to observe their reactions while talking.
regds
maha anna
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
subject: Consequences of long unemployed period ??