I worked for two years as a software engineer writing C on Unix, but 18 months ago I was made redundant. While job hunting I have continued with my study and I am just a few years away from an Open University degree in maths and computing. But I do not know what to do in the meantime: do I try harder to get back into software, or do I get secretarial work to bridge the gap?
Take secretarial post while job hunting
The simple answer is do both. The demand for skilled IT staff is increasing, and the likelihood of a potential employer seeing your tenacity and perseverance as a plus is high. The skills you have with C and Unix are still basic skills needed by many companies.
You may find that your location may be more of an issue than your background. See if you can get advice from agencies you are applying through as to why you have not been successful, and don't give up. Do not lose sight of the fact that the period you were looking for work was one of the worst for a decade.
Many candidates with more experience found themselves in a similar situation. IT is still a highly regarded work arena and the redundancies of recent years have done nothing to dent that image. For analytically minded people it can offer a well-paid and rewarding as well as challenging career.
Spread your net wider, post your CV on more job boards and approach local companies. In the meantime, if you need to earn money, there is no shame in taking a secretarial role. We get many clients looking for candidates from that background to move into IT. Admittedly they are normally support or training roles, but the need is there.
Solution by Tracey Abbott, divisional director, Zarak Group
The panel: MSB International, Spring Group, E-Skills UK, British Computer Society, Computer Futures, Hudson, Computer People, Elan, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology.
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