I want to get back into the industry, where I have 19 years' experience in IBM mainframe operations and storage management, up to operations management level. However, mainframe skills do not seem to be required much nowadays, and courses are expensive. I have applied for junior programmer roles, but there are few vacancies. I also went for an IBM mainframe operator's job but was denied an interview on the grounds of a broken career history. Is there anything you can suggest that may help?
Research potential employers
Nineteen years in any industry would have given you a great deal of valuable experience. You worked in a field that has not changed as much as other areas have, and there is still an enormous amount of work done on and generated by mainframe machines.
All these factors will make you an attractive proposition. Your age is not really a factor unless you go for junior roles - you will then find yourself competing with first or second-jobbers.
To start with, you need to set your stall out clearly in your CV and covering letter. There a number of books and Web sites that can advise on how to present yourself most effectively. Making a positive first impression is absolutely essential if you are to secure a position.
Having mastered the perfect introduction, look to your current and past skills to help direct you towards potential employers. You have a strong mainframe background with some programming and data analysis skills. Get down to your local library and find the Computer Users' Yearbook, in which you will find all the companies in your local area that are likely to need your skills.
The book lists the companies geographically and includes contact names and hardware used. Identify the companies that use the skills you have and make a direct approach. Without an agency fee to pay and the prospect of recruiting a mature, go-getting individual who lives on their doorstep how could they resist?