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  • As I think you know, I couldn’t agree more. I have 20+ years of computer experience, but am having trouble finding a job because my experience in the latest Microsoft development tools is only a couple of years out of date.

    Yet simply because I don’t have the “checklist” item of the VB.NET instead of the VB 6.0 programming language, my resume doesn’t make it past the filters that HR departments or job sites have on them. It would not take long to get me up to speed (I’ve already HAD training) but I can’t get to a human to convince them of my experience and training and skills because I’m missing “VB.NET” on my resume. Thus I’m doing a lot of social networking….but even that ends up having to filter through the HR department most of the time and I get cut again. It’s a classic Catch-22 situation.

    So folks, talk to your HR people about this issue. It may not help if the HR people are deluged with resumes and have to filter just to be able to winnow the number of resumes to a feasible number, but “years of experience” should be a checklist item as much as “knows these technologies” or “has these certifications” or “has a colllege degreee/specific level of college degree”. I know several programmers with NO college degree that I’d hire to work for me in a heartbeat over someone just out of college. Experience is MORE important than college.

    ANOTHER side of this is that “entry level” careeers in IT now all seem to require 1-2 years of experience! Excuse me? How in the world does one acquire experience if you can’t get a job because you have to have experience first? Internships, self-employement, work for non-profits, lucky breaks, I suppose. That’s ridiculous! Entry level should mean “0 years of experience” but a degree in computers of some sort. This seems to me to be a new and remarkably silly development. II don’t recall it being this way 9 years ago when I was last applying for jobs.

    Heck, Pioneer Hi-Bred called ME after I graduated from Drake with a B.A. in Computer Science degree, and offered me a job sight unseen! Am I somehow less valuable NOW with 20+ years of experience?

    No wonder no one is getting degrees or training in computers anymore and businesses are saying there is a shortage of IT workers and trying to increase the number of visas for foreign workers. Another Catch-22. Programmers can’t be found so they’re hiring or moving jobs off-shore and when people see that too, they either stay away from or get out of the computer field entirely.

    The trouble is, I don’t WANT to get out of the computer field; two reasons: I enjoy it AND it’s what (all) I know how to do. Shall I go back to college and train in some other field now? With a mortgage and a car loan and so on? At least I’m not married and don’t have kids but that might happen soon…but still…don’t be ridiculous. 4-8 years from now that new field I train for might be in just as bad a shape because the MBAs are determined to cost-cut everthing to death by moving jobs/production off-shore with no interest in taking a long-term look at things. It’s all about short-term profits these days. When all our goods are made in China and other 3rd world countries…..we’re screwed if another World War comes along…as Mr. Bush has been threatening recently. Where is our knowledgebase and infrastructure going? Away, that’s where. And the folks pointing this out are branded as “anti-progress” or “anti-business”. I’m not anti-business….I’m pro-progress and pro-America…and pro-AmericANS. Keep the jobs here. Keep the progress in technology HERE. Let the other folks in other countries compete if they can…and not by luring all out good-paying and product jobs away to do it. Let people come here for college from other countries only if they will promise to stay HERE aftewards or charge ’em twice as much if they don’t. Instead we’re giving our lead away in the name of the almighty short-term, short-sighed profit motive. Won’t it be ironic if CAPITALISM destroys America instead of the communism we feared for so long.

    (Maybe I should retain as an MBA? They don’t seem to be off-shoring those.)

    Add to that the evangelical zealots running things here and trying to destroy science (the cradle of all progress and a major reason America became the #1 nation on earth) and forgive me for thinking we are all doomed. Pardon me, I’m unemployed, I’m somewhat depressed. Still…it’s something to think about.

    Add to that too-rapid changes in technology (We’re on version 3.0 of .NET in what, 5 or 6 years? How many variants of Linux do we need? Etc, etc, etc.), off-shoring of all the good jobs, silly HR requirements for entry/HR people who don’t understand experience versus checklist items, the bursting of the .com bubble…no wonder companies can’t find any ITemployees! There are no new ones coming down the pipe and the old ones have moved on to some other area because they have to in order to pay the bills. Yet they throw roadblocks in the way of people who WANT to work for them and show by their EXPERIENCE that they are willing and able to learn new IT skills. And the companies mostly don’t even realize they are doing it, it seems.

    Perhaps we need some other sort of “entry level” tag, such as a “trainee” position similar to an internship but with low pay and a clear “lay off” date if things didn’t work out. Put them to work on small projects with clear specs. If things work out, bumpt them up to a “full” position with better pay and more responsibilities commensurate with what they can do.

    Ageism may be a factor too. Many of the folks I’ve interviewed with are young enough to be my kids….and I’m only 45. I don’t have a problem working for someone younger than me. So long as they don’t have the reverse problem, that is. But I also point out that two of the 4 programmers at my old shop were older than I am; one in his late 50’s, one in his early 60’s. The other was about the same age as me. We did much better than twice as many just-out-of-college kids would have done because we all had decades of experience. But that experience doesn’t seem to cound and might actually hurt….to the point that I’m wondering if I should strip ALL dates from my resume and get out the Grecian Formula. Trouble is, they want “years of experience” ultimately they’re going to want places and dates. So that’s not a practical solution. Catch-22 again.

    It’s very frustrating. On several levels: Personally, and for the computer industry/IT in general.

    Think about it when you’re hiring staff, folks. Not just IT folks either.

    October 24, 2007

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