IT Employment

Member unemployed for four years needs to find a niche

A resume makeover and good interview etiquette haven't seemed to help this member who has been in a four-year employment drought. It seems as though some soul-searching might be in order.

Q. I am a seasoned IT specialist. Please note the generic reference as it is the closest I can come, in a concise and efficient manner, to reference my vast field of specialization in areas of IT and/or computer technology. My experience ranges from assembly-level work (computer) to managerial areas of expertise (data processing manager for several years). I also have a great depth of social expertise. I am able to communicate with anyone who is willing, thanks to my excellent sense of people. I have made an effort to maintain balance between my technological expertise and my social expertise.

I have been unemployed (except for occasional self-employment) for nearly four years now. The fact that I am still unemployed is something I’m having a great deal of difficulty trying to accept. I need a full-time, long-term position.

I’ve done everything that has been suggested to me, including revamping my resume and following up on interviews. I am still not employed. Why?

A. As I read through your question, two possible explanations for why you are still unattached came to mind. First, you sound like you have a lot of experience in a wide range of IT areas. You may have chosen to do that or it might just have been the way your career has gone. Unfortunately, this array of experience makes it difficult for a hiring manager or HR manager to fit you into a particular job slot.

You did not mention an area of specialization or any degrees or certifications, so you probably don’t have any. This underscores the problem of categorization, and it also suggests to a potential employer that you either have problems making up your mind what you like to do or that you become bored easily. Neither trait is appealing to potential employers, who like to have steady, predictable employees.

Second, you mention that you’d like to have a long-term job. That made me think that perhaps you have had some job offers over the past four years, and you turned them down, thinking they were not the right ones for you. You’ve continued searching for the job that fits your idea of the perfect job. If that’s the case, then you have put the search for perfection in place of your stated goal of a regular paycheck.

No job is perfect, and if you keep searching for one that is, you’ll be unemployed the rest of your life. I’m not exaggerating; I know someone who got his Ph.D. in computer science decades ago and has never held a steady job. He bemoans the fact that he can’t find work suitable for his mind, talents, and education, but I think he prefers making his own schedule and letting his wife support him.

If potential employers have seemed interested in you but pull back when they realize you have not focused on a particular IT skill, then it’s time for you to develop a focus. Pick a niche that’s hot—IT security for example—and dig in and get some training and certifications. Meanwhile, take the next job that you’re offered, even if it’s not your ideal job, or you think it won’t last. You need to get back into the working world, even if you do it just so you can pay the bills and improve your resume.

Finally, you asked me why you aren’t employed, but only you can answer that question. I can tell you that you’ve got some soul-searching and some expectation adjusting to do before you can answer it, though. One last thought: If you haven’t been offered a job in four years, despite searching for one diligently day in, day out, then maybe you’re in the wrong career, or maybe you secretly want to do something else with your time rather than work in the IT world.

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