Next move: How do I come back after a career break?

Expert advice for readers' career problems

The question: How do I come back after a career break?

I am 52 and have a lot of IT experience, but it all seems to be obsolete. Much of my earlier work was in IBM mainframe systems development (Assembler Cobol, DL/1) and after that in PC support. Could my age or the fact that I have been out of IT for a couple of years discourage employers?

The solution: Use mainframe skills or take support role

The reality of it is that you have the triple whammy: mature age, obsolete skills and a career break.

There are two ways you can go. One route would involve you gaining new technical knowledge. The other would potentially utilise your mainframe skills.

There are a couple of trade bodies that represent companies that use “obsolete” IT as the backbone of their businesses. They have an ongoing need to recruit individuals on both a permanent and contract basis and often struggle in this endeavour. Many of these companies will pay above market rate as it is essential for them to keep their systems running. It is always worth looking at the Professional Contractors Group’s website to see if they have affiliates advertising for the skills you have.

With regards to training, you need to decide whether you want a development or a support position. If support, what type of role? I often suggest in these instances that you research local companies via the Computer Users Yearbook and apply direct. Many firms will try a direct applicant who does not have all the skills over someone from an agency.

Solution by Tracey Abbott, divisional director at Zarak Group and Atsco board member

The panel: Plan-Net Services, Hudson, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology, No Limits Coaching, The Training Camp

Need advice on your IT career? E-mail your questions to: computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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