22/03/01Have skills, will travel, why no job?

I am a 39-year-old analyst programmer with 17 years in IT, mainly in the finance and retail sectors. My key skills are the...

I am a 39-year-old analyst programmer with 17 years in IT, mainly in the finance and retail sectors. My key skills are the Teradata RDBMS and Cobol. I recently spent £3,500 training in VB6, SQL Server 7 and Oracle 8i and yet have been out of work for 10 months. I am prepared to take a trainee position or relocate. What would you advise?

Focus on new skills, be flexible

Louise Hall
Senior consultant, Computer Futures

First, let me reassure you that your age is not an issue. The main problem here appears to be flexibility and the drive to achieve your goals.

Through your IT career you have proved that you can learn new skills and adapt to new technical areas, make use of this if it means you can get back into employment sooner rather than later.

Certain IT skills are still in great demand. Teradata and Cobol are not. You may, however, be able to secure short-term contract work if you are open to relocation. Have you considered working abroad if you have a skill that they use in other countries?

Your new technical skills are more desirable and in short supply. My advice would therefore be to focus on your new skills and be prepared to take a junior/trainee role. You will probably have to start from the beginning, but your skills will become more desirable as you gain commercial experience. Be prepared to look at a salary in the mid-teens, the most important thing is to get yourself into employment as soon as possible.

Contact as many recruitment consultancies as possible to give you the best opportunity of being marketed to suitable companies. Also, back this up with your own efforts, market yourself actively by looking in Yellow Pages, trawl the Internet or go to your local library and look in the Computer Users Yearbook, highlight all the major banking/finance and retail organisations in the UK and send them your CV.

The panel: Apex, MSB International, Best International Group, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, E-skills NTO, Monarch Recruitment, Reed Computing, Netheads Consulting

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