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Is there any way back in?

By brian ·
I worked five years in tech. 2 years was tech support, but the later 3 years was in web programming and site integration. Due to personal crises, I had to leave my job in 2002. I would like to get back in to the field. I have a Java Programmer certification from Sun. I have experience with Perl, HTML, JavaScript, and all sorts of front and back-end languages. I have no degree. I was self-taught and broke in during the boom, and lasted through its decline as well.

Is there any chance in the world I can get back into the field? My ultimate goal is programming. I live in L.A. which I believe might be a more flexible markets than elsewhere; but am not sure of the current state of tech employment and especially how I can get back to where I was.


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Apply for Positions

by BFilmFan In reply to Is there any way back in?

If you apply for positions, someone, eventually will hire you.

This is the shotgun approach. If you shoot enough pellets, you are bound to hit a duck.

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Don't be your own worst enemy

by amcol In reply to Is there any way back in?

Whatever your personal crises, they're no one's business but yours. Go and apply for any job you want, and feel not one shred of guilt that you had to do what you had to do.

Be prepared with a no more than ten second response to the inevitable question, "Why did you leave your job in 2002?", and the obvious follow-up, "What have you been doing since then?". Don't spend more than a bare minimum of time on this's not why you're at the interview, it's not going to get you the job, it's only going to hurt you.

Accentuate the positive. What can you do for your prospective employer that will be strategically and financially value adding? Focus on that, keep the entire interview on that topical theme. With a little thought you can probably even figure out how to spin your life since 2002 in such a way that it supports this whole area.

If you get an interviewer who insists on grilling you about your problems and hiatus, chalk that off to experience and keep looking. You're not going to get the first job you go for, and every interview won't result in a job.

Interviewees are in more control of the interview than most people think. Take control and you'll be fine.

And if you have to take a step back on the career ladder to get back into the field, so be it. Life's thrown you some lemons. Figure out a way to make the best lemonade you can.

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10 seconds on the topic ...

by Too Old For IT In reply to Don't be your own worst e ...

I have one of those issues that will sometimes arise, tho more often after trying to reconstruct my IT resume into a Tops TOP32851 (or worse yet, the TOP328 job application.

I have one of those issues that will sometimes arise, though more often after trying to reconstruct my IT resume into a Tops TOP32851 (or worse yet, the TOP328 job application.

I spend about 3 seconds of executive summary, leaving me with 7 seconds to say "as you can see, it bear no relevance to the position I am applying for."

This will usually get me by, unless the interviewer thinks him or herself as Sgt. Joe Friday, in which case (a) I'm not getting the position and (b) I wouldn't want to work there anyway.

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Not necessarily Sgt Joe Friday

by salisburyw In reply to 10 seconds on the topic . ...

A valid reason I see for asking someone if why he/she left the last job is to determine if the same situation exists at my company. There are company costs associated with the hiring process -- including the delay created by replacing a new hire who might leave in a short period of time and recreating the vacancy that originally existed.

All change is disruptive. A person should be able to explain a job change in terms of evolving personal goals -- w/o reference to personal crises. Remember that the interviewer is also a human being that had to interview for his/her current job. If you have the skills toolkit or the ability to learn what is needed, then your career goals should provide a basis on which to discuss your job history.

Gaps in employment history in today's market is not uncommon and should not be determining factor in a hiring decision -- gee, you could have been taking a sabatical to hone your programming skills! The interviewer might even consider that a plus.

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Not so much gaps in employment ...

by Too Old For IT In reply to Not necessarily Sgt Joe F ...

... as the glorious results of a mis-spent youth. One or the other of the TOPS HR forms used to cut off at 7 years, which IMHO is far enough back for anything relevant in and to the internet age.

Not to beat up on TOPS too much. Most employment applications are variations on a theme (we don't want to read your carefully crafted resume anyway), and a TOPS form is certainly better than a slap-dash attempt to "do something different".

FWIW, the firm I am contracting with going forward has for the last ten years has used a "consultant profile" template that redacts not only the consultant's last name, but the name of the firm they were contracted out to, any other firm they worked for, places worked at and so forth. Since most places merely give a "name, rank, from & to" response to employment history requests, and they have a ten-year history of success with same, I'm beginning to think that this is all that should be necessary to get one's foot in the door.

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A lot of people have gaps on their resumes

by DC Guy In reply to Is there any way back in?

If someone asks you about it, just say, "I had an opportunity to try something else, but it didn't work out the way I expected." If they push, just mutter something about not being in a position to say much about it.

Those sentences are probably not even untruthful, if taken absolutely literally.

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I might suggest

by Too Old For IT In reply to Is there any way back in?

... some "Just for Men" hair coloring, an up to date wardrobe, lose a few pounds and some skin lotion for that youthful look HR managers crave.

And be prepared to be told that your skills are worth $15 an hour tops on a short-term contract for a while until you land some place that truly needs your help.

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You've been away

by Polyglot In reply to Is there any way back in?

I used to hang out at my local bar which was popular with the criminal fraternity. When somebody was in the slammer they'd say he was 'away'. When he got back he'd say he'd 'been away', Everybody knew what that meant.

I'm sure that your own personal crisis was nothing like this. But you'd better make sure they don't think it was!

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Waste Management Business?

by Too Old For IT In reply to You've been away

Were they in the Waste Management Business?

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don't fret

by david.planchon In reply to Is there any way back in?

It sounds from your description that your journey in the IT industry was just beginning, and that you had become certified and acquired the necessary tools to be a successful professional. That in itself should be of interest to any smart interviewer/manager looking at filling at position.

Don't worry about the gap in work history, as a few mentioned there are many reasons which can be used.
My advice is to not get into personal details. If they ask, stay cool, neutral and say: "I had personal matters that needed tending to", and leave it at that. If they push, you know that it's probably not a very healthy environment, and they probably have boundary issues; plus a decent interviewer will totally understand that life happens and drop it there.

Also, prepare yourself. Looking for work is actually more work than a regular job. Think very carefully about what you want out of your job; what type of projects, hours, environment, setup, commuting distance, bottom dollar you must get, what you'd like to get, etc... Write these things down and feel free to let your imagination run loose.
Once you've done that think about the people you know, the geographic area, some of the companies you think might have what you are looking for. Create a reposatory of information for each target. Visite the web sites, ask your Chamber of Commerce for information, gather intel. Build that up, you will start seeing patterns and might start redifining what you're looking for... you're on your way.
Next step is contacting the targets. During the research phase you might have found a few names, it's time to use them. Personally, I like a direct approach. Pick up the phone and make the call. Have your facts sheet ready, showing some knowledge of their infrastructure will be helpful. 1 fo 2 things will happen, you'll talk to someone or not. If you do, no matter how the conversation goes try to get some other names/references (even from other companies -keep building that intel database).
Next step is being ready for a physical interview. What I would do in your case is prepare a portfolio; since you are a programmer/web developper I would setup a site with some of your work, also setup a laptop or portable media with that info. Take it with you at every meeting. This will show your interviewer that you are proactive, have initiative and enthousiasm.
I have lots more to say but this will have to do for now.
Just remember that during a job interview the flow of information must go both ways. You are trying to find out if a mutually beneficial union can be created.

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