Next move: The wheels are coming off my MCSE

The question: I thought you might be able to give me some pointers to help improve my stagnating IT career. I have been working in IT for about 14 years now,...

The question: I thought you might be able to give me some pointers to help improve my stagnating IT career. I have been working in IT for about 14 years now, but seem not to be able to break out of the stable as the companies I have worked for will not or cannot offer me the career advancement I have been looking for.

I took the step to expand my qualifications to improve my prospects and so have been self-studying for MCSE for 18 months but it is taking an age to complete because of my long work hours and home commitments. I am still studying for my third exam and am aware that at this rate Server 2008 will be out before I complete.

I have approached my current company to fund a course but despite two other techs being funded last year, I was told it was not possible because "it is not in the company's interest". I cannot afford to self-fund or get a loan to pay for the course.

I have also found little interest in my CV despite my new qualifications.

I would like to be a consultant or senior system admin but cannot find any agency or employer willing to accept me for such a role or a position that will allow me to grow.

The solution: As a starting point, it may be worth considering the knowledge and experience you already have with business applications in the sectors you've worked in. Increasingly, IT and the business are being viewed as one and the same and it will be equally important for you to know the business process and applications as well as the nuts and bolts of infrastructure and technology.

In this climate, explaining and expanding on your business ability in your CV may be worth considering. You could do this by outlining experience with business applications you may have used in the past 14 years, for instance.

The process of identifying a suitable company that will offer the career development and funding capabilities you seek can be a difficult task. This being the case, continuing the self-study and getting hold of the MCSE will give you the best chance of securing a new role.

Industry accreditations really do carry considerable weight if you can get them and will help you stand out from other applicants provided the role you have applied for is relevant to the qualification area.

Accreditations such as ITIL are also increasingly popular and all companies that utilise ITIL will look favourably on a practitioner qualification, particularly if it has been self-funded.

If it's a consultancy-based role you're after, volunteering yourself for as much end-user or customer-facing experience as possible will stand you in good stead and give you more relevant exposure to this area. If you can generate the experience and develop your skill set, a more suitable and appealing role may be easier to come by.

The technologies you discuss will continue to have opportunities, with strong demand expected over the coming months, so increasingly it may be the case that there is an employer out there who needs these skills within their organisation.

Solution by Nick Dettmar, managing director of Computer People, part of the Adecco group

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This was last published in January 2008

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