CXO

Am I too old for an entry-level job in IT?

An experienced IT professional wants an entry-level job because he's looking for a meaningful activity during his retirement. TechRepublic career coach Kevin Rosenberg has the answers to this and other career questions.


Let headhunter Kevin Rosenberg help you set your career compass. Kevin is managing director and partner of BridgeGate LLC, a California-based search firm. Kevin specializes in IT management searches and shares career tips in this monthly Q & A column.

Q: I am 60 years “young” and I have been out of the workforce since 1996. I retired from a major telecom company after 20 years working, mostly as a software engineer/programmer. I have learned to use Java and Oracle database software since I retired just to keep my “thinking” skills active.

Money is not an issue as I have [a] pension and [a] nest egg to use until I start on Social Security. I would like to obtain an entry-level position as a “system tester” or just help out with whatever no one else wants to do.

Will any company consider me as a full-time employee, or would it be a waste of my time to send out a resume? Or should I seek part-time work via a temp shop?
—JV

Rosenberg: Asking for an entry-level job with your degree of experience will be seen as counter intuitive to most employers. Your age might not be a deterrent, but the type of work you are contemplating could inhibit your placement.

It sounds as if your desire to work is motivated by the want to stay sharp and involved. Perhaps you could consider philanthropic application of your talents or perhaps you could work in consulting in exchange for equity. You may find either option more rewarding and less restrictive than a full-time job.

There are literally dozens of ways a bright and far-from-finished IT pro can stay in the market post retirement. Call your chamber of commerce, local business incubator, or user groups and get involved.

Q: I am a two-year veteran of a dot-com company in engineering management, supervising a team of software engineers. I am privy to the fact that our company is running out of money and may have difficulty raising additional funds since B2C (business to consumer) is out of favor. Accordingly, I am about to begin a job search.

I have very good management skills and have remained somewhat technical. I think I will be an asset to another start-up. My question is this: With the recent downturn in the dot-com market, should I think about going back to the brick-and-mortar world, or is there less risk out there than I perceive?
—IQ

Rosenberg: The dot-com bomb picture being painted by the press has caused many technology professionals to rethink their career paths. While start-ups are not for everyone, by no means is the revolution over. On the contrary, venture investment is being raised at a very impressive pace in certain regions, including Southern California.

I believe that despite the dot-com failures that have been in the news, the Internet will continue to change the way business is conducted. Furthermore, we are only at the beginning of the cycle. There are still many very good business ideas that leverage the Web that will improve the operational efficiencies of industry and create new markets.

Don’t give up on the dot coms if it’s what you like and feel you are suited to do. However, change your evaluation criteria when selecting your next role. Executive candidates we work with use the following criteria when evaluating the viability of the new economy companies we represent.
  • Dissect the business plan. Is the idea viable? Is there a market? How soon can the pendulum swing from cash burn to cash flow?
  • What is the caliber of the investors? What is their track record? What is the depth of their resources? What background do the founders have? Have they ever run a company or start-up before? Are they performing the job function they are most suited to fill? For example, is a software engineer acting as CEO?

Here are a few other articles that describe a variety of resources to help you research dot coms.

Q: I am an IT instructor in Fresno, CA, which is not the most booming city economically, but it’s not too bad either. At least, I think so. That’s my problem. I am unaware of any good tools to determine the real (versus the hyped) growth here, as well as any accurate tools to help me determine if my salary is fair for my experience and education.

I recently got a 6 percent raise after six months on the job, but [I] am not sure if that’s good or bad comparatively. The searches I’ve tried have yielded sites that were less than satisfactory for salary estimations. What sites would you suggest?
—SM

Rosenberg: In real estate, the axiom is “location, location, location.” The same home in a less desirable area may cost much less than if it were located on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The market barometer for compensation is very much the same. County by county, state by state, salaries for IT professionals will vary. Even so, you probably know that you are in a profession that can boast among the highest salaries in the nation.

To determine your market value given your geography, you may have to do some old-fashioned detective work. Here are a few ideas:
  • Call search firms that serve your area and ask about salaries for jobs that are comparable with the one you have.
  • Contact local colleges and universities and ask if they have statistics.
  • Ask other IT professionals if your salary is fair. Check out TechRepublic’s Technical Q & A. Many IT pros describe their salary, workload, experience, and geographic location. Then, other TechRepublic members will give their opinion about whether that IT pro is earning a fair salary.

In addition, here are a few salary surveys that are available for free or at a low cost:

Of course what you are paid is less relevant if you work in a place where you want to live.
Are your coworkers getting on your nerves? Is your boss a roadblock to advancement? Send Kevin your career questions or post a comment to this article. We can't guarantee that he'll answer your letter, but he does read each question and addresses the most common concerns in this column.

Editor's Picks