How do I overcome pigeonholing?

Expert advice for readers' career problems

Over the past few years, I have implemented a web-enabled forecasting system linked to a datawarehouse and created a disaster recovery plan for a FTSE 100 company. I have also been unemployed for 14 months.

The range of my skills seems to scare interviewers, and being 58 years old does not help. I am not ready to retire, but I am at the point of leaving IT and depriving someone with a fraction of my skills of a job by becoming a shelf stacker or road sweeper. What would you advise?

The solution:

Tailor your CV for each job application

The introduction in October 2006 of age discrimination regulations can protect you. Remove your date of birth from your CV - you do not have to provide this information even at the interview stage.

You clearly have a good range of experience and skills. However, being a jack of all trades can put off potential employers. You should tailor your CV to each job. If the advert asks for datawarehousing skills, highlight your datawarehouse experience in detail - do not send your general management CV.

The most successful candidates are the ones who really invest time in their applications. The same rule applies to the interview. Focus only on relevant skills. If the job requires Wintel experience, you do not need to explain that you can code in C++.

With your skills, you could market yourself as an independent IT consultant to local organisations. Being able to set up a website or sort out a database could be just the ticket, and it would surely beat stacking shelves.

Solution by Jeremy I'Anson, principal IT consultant at Hudson

The panel: Computer People, Hudson, No Limits Coaching, The Training Camp, Wreay Group

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