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Advice regarding re-entering IT world

Rob Holmes
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 11, 2008
Posts: 4
I left the computer world in 2004 and I am now looking for advice in re-entering it. I am located in Dallas TX and looking for permanent work ( not contract ).

2 Years Java Web Development ( 2002 - 2004 )
2 Years C/CGI web Development ( 2000 - 2002 )
1 Year C Data Reprocessing ( 1999 - 2000 )
4 Years Cobol Mainframe ( 1999 - 1995 )

What is a reasonable salary expectation for someone who has not been programming for the last 4 years?

What are the best job search boards to focus on; should I select general job boards like monster.com or IT specific job boards such as computerjobs.com? I found a list of general and specific job boards at http://www.knockemdead.com/internet_resources.php

Has anyone used a service like resumemachine.com? It e-mails [ "carpet-bombs" ] your resume to many different recruiters at once. I don't know if such a tactic would generate good results?

What type of experiences have other people had with re-entering the IT work force?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Rob Holmes:

What are the best job search boards to focus on; should I select general job boards like monster.com or IT specific job boards such as computerjobs.com? I found a list of general and specific job boards at http://www.knockemdead.com/internet_resources.php


It turns out not to be an either/or decision. You can post resumes on multiple job boards and any given job board only takes a few hours a week to review depending on how general or specific your search is.



Originally posted by Rob Holmes:

Has anyone used a service like resumemachine.com? It e-mails [ "carpet-bombs" ] your resume to many different recruiters at once. I don't know if such a tactic would generate good results?


I've never used it but my guess is it's a great way to waste your time. good recruiters know how to find you and build relationships. Any recruiter worth his salt will do basic things like pull resumes from job boards; they don't need to be spammed with them. Recruiters also aren't hard to reach, they generally return all alls and emails. Your best bet is asking friends and colleagues to recommend recruiters to you and then contacting those people. 1 good recruiter is worth 25 bad ones.

--Mark
arulk pillai
Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3219
Also possibly evaluate if a functional (i.e. skills based) resume would be more appropriate than a chronological one.


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Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
2 Years Java Web Development ( 2002 - 2004 )
2 Years C/CGI web Development ( 2000 - 2002 )
1 Year C Data Reprocessing ( 1999 - 2000 )
4 Years Cobol Mainframe ( 1999 - 1995 )



There is a lot of work to be done, but it is possible. Make sure you sharpen your interview skills and be able to clearly describe your abilities. Personally, with the background (above), I would look for positions dealing with COBOL. Four years of COBOL programming is still very valuable. This is your strongest selling point. And this will make you stand out when compared to the 10,000 other "Java programmer" resumes.
COBOL business applications are not going anywhere and the number of COBOL programmers is getting smaller and smaller. Make sure that you learn the Java basics again. Also, learn how service-oriented architectures are designed and learn how to wrap a COBOL application with a web service. Learn how BPM, web services, and enterprise service buses work together.

A second point, take advantage of local associations. Join the ACM, IEEE, PMI, and any other organizations where you can attend local meetings and network.

Thirdly, try to focus on finding positions, not technical recruiters. Look for positions being handled by the organization's Human Resources staff.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by arulk pillai:
Also possibly evaluate if a functional (i.e. skills based) resume would be more appropriate than a chronological one.


In the US, those resumes are not recommended. When someone doesn't do a chronological resume he or she faces two problems....

1) It's a flag that there may be something unusual about the candidate that he or she is trying to hide with a non-standard format.
2) Most resumes are initially reviewed for 15-45 seconds; when a resume doesn't conform to standards the reviewer gets less information from it in that period and it's more likely to be passed over.

--Mark
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18492
    
  40

Another option. With 8 or 9 years experience, can't you call up one of your former colleagues? Maybe you can call in a favor, to get you an interview?

Henry


Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
Rob Holmes
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 11, 2008
Posts: 4
Originally posted by James Clark:

Personally, with the background (above), I would look for positions dealing with COBOL. Four years of COBOL programming is still very valuable.


A quick search on monster.com using the 75287 zip code and a 50 mile radius gave the results of 20 jobs for Cobol and 234 jobs for Java. A different city might give different results but in this case small prospects.



Make sure that you learn the Java basics again.


I have been reading up on Struts2, ANT 1.7 and Java 5. I am not sure whether to study EJB 2.1 or EJB 3.0 which one are people actually using these days for production development work?

Thank you for the advice!

Rob
Rob Holmes
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 11, 2008
Posts: 4
Originally posted by Henry Wong:
Another option. With 8 or 9 years experience, can't you call up one of your former colleagues?


Tried that one, they are not hiring and presently "right-sizing" through attrition. The company has a strong link to the price of oil.

Rob
arulk pillai
Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3219
If you are keen on going down the Java/JEE programming path, I would recommend you to get hands on experience in JSF, Spring, and Hibernate. Also integration technologies like JMS and Web Service. You can find lots of tutorials on these.
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
A quick search on monster.com using the 75287 zip code and a 50 mile radius gave the results of 20 jobs for Cobol and 234 jobs for Java. A different city might give different results but in this case small prospects.


There are many positions that are not loaded into monster.com. If you only depend upon "web" searching and online job boards, you most likely will be looking for work for a long time. However, the 20 open positions are good prospects for you background. You can ignore them if you want. It is your choice.

Good luck!
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by James Clark:

Personally, with the background (above), I would look for positions dealing with COBOL.


I'd advise the opposite. You risk getting pigeonholed into COBOL. Only take a COBOL job if it is a COBOL-Java port or similar job that also includes a more modern language. (This ignores any personal reasons for why you might not be able to wait for the right job for you.)



Originally posted by James Clark:

There are many positions that are not loaded into monster.com.


That's true but unless there is a systemic reason COBOL jobs are significantly underlisted online as compared to Java jobs I think Rob's point is that there is significantly more demand for Java.


--Mark
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Rob Holmes:


Another option. With 8 or 9 years experience, can't you call up one of your former colleagues?

Tried that one, they are not hiring and presently "right-sizing" through attrition. The company has a strong link to the price of oil.



Surely not all your former co-workers are with one company. Haven't some left? What about clients and vendors? How about college classmates? How about places you've interviewed in the past? Have you tried professional groups like JUGs, Meetups, etc?

--Mark
 
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