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Long term employment with single company, versus mutiple employers

By DanLM ·
I worked 22 years for a state agency on big blue in a cobol environment which converted to a client server/oracle environment. I retired last year to relocate to a different area of the country to remarry, and hopefully expand my technical horizon's. I find that there are still many mainframe environments out there(banks, insurnance, and other high volume buisness's). But, for the life of me. I do not seem to be able to find a position in either oracle or cobol.
During my tenure I acquired what I felt was a respective resume even though it may only have been in a single work envioronment. This environment was the largest buisness's entity of its respective type in the state I worked for. I also am able to provide reference's of all my supervisors and other technical people from various other companies that I have had contact with.
But, based on the interviews that I have had, which I had the impression that I did very well in. I get the feeling that due to my single work environment I am not being given as much consideration as others are.
Am I incorrect in my assumption that my single work environment has hampered my technical career. Even though my references will all state that I have always kept up on new technoligy on my own, and offered those type of solutions when I thought they were cost affective? To the point that I would use one of my personal computers at home to teach myself any skill that I seen was slowly being migrated to?
I always felt that by moving around so much, that you would only get a sampeling of any technical skill. And never get a good understanding of both its pluss's and it's minus's. But by being diligant in my personal reading on the subjects, that I would be able to both sugest and fullfill solutions in any new technoligy if it was not currently in place.
I just wonder what other's oppinions are in staying with one company versus moving from company to company.


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by BFilmFan In reply to Long term employment with ...

It truly depends on what the client is seeking. Do they want someone with massive exposure to lots of clients to come in and solve their problem for a contract?

Or are they looking for someone to join the team and remain with them?

I can tell you that from being an experienced consultant the more big names the client sees on the resume, the more likely they are to hire you for their short term project.

And just as an aside, have you asked any of the interviewers in a follow-up if their is anything you could have done differently during the interview?

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unfortinoally, no i havent

by DanLM In reply to Depends

I have been straight forward in my interviews in stating that I have been out of the job market for a long time with regard to interviews, and asked how I had done in presenting myself. I have been told that I presented my technical and communication skills well, and that they felt I would be a good fit for the position. Then, I have heard nothing else.
I know of some interviews that I did, that I just did teribly in. I do not count them, for I know that I just screwed up the interview. But, I have been told to expect call backs and further interviews. Or a call back on a start date. This occured with three different positions. And, nothing has occured.
Its been a long dry spell for me sence I've moved(6 months), and I worry that I am reaching that stage where I have been out of the field too long to be considered at all.
When I moved, I moved to a larger metrapoliten area of the united states. I was hopeing to go into consulting at this stage in my career to round out my skills. And with me moving to a more populated area I did expect some employment in my field, even if it was short term.
I don't know, maybe its a wake up call. Time to move on, and choose a new career.


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There could be many issues involved.

by stress junkie In reply to unfortinoally, no i haven ...

First I'll say that I'm 48 years old so I've got some familiarity with your situation as far as age goes. Regarding age, that may be working against you. There is a reluctance to hire people over 40 years old. Period.

Second I would encourage you to look back on your own work experience and recall when your department had decided to hire someone new. These plans can often go awry. Quarterly budgets get in the way. New IT initiatives such as moving from Unix to MS will change the requirements for new hires. Managers get busy with new problems such as implementing a new and improved level of security. Hiring gets delayed because someone decided to move offices around. Anything can get in the way of a department offering a job to a candidate. The bigger the corporation the more likely this sort of stuff is to happen. So, it may have nothing to do with you.

Third, I worked as a contract employee for 15 years. I would recommend that you look into this style of work. Issues such as age and education are not relevant to consultancy or contract employment. Read my blog regarding some issues related to this style of work. If you do decide to do this NEVER take a 1099 job. Always work as a W2 employee to a contract house. Otherwise the taxes will eat away at your profits and you will be overburdened with tax paperwork.

Fourth, maybe your interview style needs to be improved. Some of your statements such as having asked the interviewer if you could have done anything better or whatever indicate to me that you are not approaching the interview with the right attitude. When you approach an interview you have to adopt the attitude that these people are lucky that you are willing to work with them because you know that you are the right person for the job. All you have left is to persuade the interviewer that you are that person. You have to calm your emotions and adopt a sense of confidence in your ability to meet whatever requirements the postition asks of you. Be friendly but not obsequious. Be confident but not arrogant. Be a leader but also indicate a willingness to work on a team, as the leader. :) Then there are certain steps that should be included in any interview. If the interviewer doesn't do these steps then you have to control the interview and make the interview include these steps. These are:

The interviewer should list the skills they are trying to fill. Let them finish before you respond.

You tell them how you can fill each of those requirements. In some cases they will have a skill requirement that you cannot meet. You should be willing to state that without shrinking away from it. You simply state that you are not familiar with that skill but that you can easily add that to your skill set once you start working there.

At the end of the interview instead of asking the interviewer how you did you should state firmly and confidently that you look forward to seeing them again.


Believe me. I've had many many interviews in my career. If I was interviewing for a job that I could do well then I would get the job 90% of the time. Interviewing is just another word for sales meeting. You are selling yourself. Don't go into it as a nervous rodent who doesn't even believe that he should get the job. You have to believe that you are the best candidate that is going to show up and they will be lucky to have you.

And don't say that you can't act like that because it isn't your nature. I am very confident in any work situation including interviews because I believe in myself. On the other hand I am almost a social cripple out of work. So it isn't a question of your personality. It can be draining but you can do it. Here's a good exercise in putting your fears aside and doing something. Go skydiving. I did that a for a whole summer a couple of years ago. Any rational person will be nervous about jumping out of a airplane in flight. If you can put that fear aside and go ahead with the jump it will be a good experience in controlling your fear. I made eleven jumps that summer. The last one was just as scary as the first one. Finding the resolve within myself to control the fear and perform the jump was an excellent exercise in self control. If you can do it more than once then that's even better.

Good luck.

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Accept reality

by amcol In reply to unfortinoally, no i haven ...

When you entered the job market the conventional wisdom was to spend the first five to seven years working for several employers, looking for "the one" you'd then spend the rest of your career with. That's no longer the case. Nowadays, people typically have seven to ten employers across the broad stretch of a career and don't spend more than five years of so in one place.

That doesn't mean your two decades of service with one employer is a detriment. It's all in how you present yourself. Your resume can show the best of both worlds. If you've had a few different jobs at your one employer, hopefully showing a pattern of progression and growth, list each of them separately as if each was a unique position. You can knit them together, if appropriate, in a cover letter or interview.

Having long service at one employer is not your problem, however. You spent virtually your whole career at a state agency, a nurturing comfort zone in which bureaucracy is paramount and the profit motive is irrelevant (I'm in the Federal government...I know what I'm talking about). Now you want to move into consulting?

No one's going to take you seriously in that arena, and it has nothing to do with your service longevity nor your mainframe based skill set. You lack the experience, and quite frankly judging from the quality of your writing you also lack the communication skills. You yourself say you blew a few interviews, so I'm not sure what leads you to conclude it's the consultant's life for you.

You're also not going to get hired as a mainframer, nor as a Cobol programmer. Yeah, I know, there's still a couple trillion lines of Cobol code out there. Sorry, but no one's hiring those skills. If that's what you want to do for a living then seek out employment in the public sector, which is a notoriously slow adopter of technology and may still have the need. It's your only option.

You say you have Oracle skills. Great, that at least is marketable and transferable. Concentrate on that. Find something with a very small company that'll give you the opportunity to pick up the server based skills you'll need to augment your DBMS knowledge, then after a while parlay that into something bigger and better. A small company may be hungry for someone with your length of service and willing to overlook the fact that you lack some of the specific technical skill requirements, figuring your vast experience can make up for that gap and you'll learn what new skills you need quickly. You'll have to convince a prospective employer you can do that first, of course.

DO NOT choose a new career, at least not for the reasons you're considering. It's never a good idea to take a direction because you're moving away from something. If you want to do something else, by all means do it...but because you want to, not because you have no other options.

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I have to thank everyone

by DanLM In reply to Long term employment with ...

I was looking for honest and straight insight into my situation. And thats what I see here. I knew there were things that I was doing wrong, I also knew that there were things out of my control. I beleive what I'm seeing here is an insight into both. Which, to be honest. I was not seeing.
My interview skills must improve. Your correct, I am selling myself. Just by the asking how did I do, shows lack of confidence.
The years in public service are against me, and I can not undo that. What I need to show or present is how I set myself apart from the other application people both in the agency that I worked for and all other goverment contacts that I had.
Again, thanks everyone. This is exactly the type of intput that I was hopeing to get.

dan miller

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What might not go astray

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to I have to thank everyone

Is some volunteer work for Charity while you are not working if only for your own benefit to keep your hand in and gather some more experience with the small side of the industry.

This is a problem that I've never encountered mainly because of my reputation I was constantly Head Hunted from place to place while I worked the big end of town.

But some other opportunities just drop in your lap from out of the blue. I was at my mothers place when the guy arrived to fix the photocopier and they had just switched to an Orical system and of course ripped out the entire old system installed the new Orical and of course nothing was working and they couldn't even invoice out a screw from the warehouse. The Senior Tech was complaining bitterly about the system so I offered to look in and see if I could help them out, there was no ulterior motive here other than getting a brand new photocopier working again and more importantly getting my mother off my back.

That company is now one of my biggest clients and even though they have an excellent in house IT department I'm constantly being called in to fix things with the new system. Apparently they have now factored in my costs to implement the new system and all I wanted to do was get my mother off my back and have her new photocopier work properly. To say that they where desperate when I first arrived there would be the understatement of the year and I did the work for free without expecting any form of payment I just wanted to get some new parts out of the warehouse and if I got their system up and running it was a bonus but not imperative.

The check that arrived in the mail was unexpected, unnecessary and way too much for what I had done but since that time they have only had a few problems and the longest down time has been about 2 hours where as previously it was measured in weeks of not being able to use the system. Of course the sales people from Orical had supplied completely the wrong hardware for the requirements and this was driving the Techs crazy from both Orical and the company involved.

Just get out there and do something you'll never understand what will happen and why when it does but it's always nice when it does.

Incidentally I'm pushing 50 this year and I've never seen age as any barrier.


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kinda doing that, but will expand

by DanLM In reply to What might not go astray

I have always operated mutiple os's at home just because Im a geek at heart. What I have always wanted to do, but never did till recently was get involved in the open source community. My only contributation at the moment is posting my solution to the brute force issue, which is only a unix script. But, I feel it is more transportable then some of the other solutions that I have seen and accomplishes the same thing. I also felt that I could point to that in any interview, and say if you wish to see my unix abilities, you can go here for a sampling of my skill's.
Your right, community work would be to my advantage for several reasons Just because I like the idea of helping people and also because it is a means of making new contacts which might work to my advantage in the long run. And if nothing else, least I will have helped someone. Which, I think is as important if not more important then the contact possibilities.

Dan Miller

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