Career Watch

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: John R. Wetsch

The WISE program director for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction discusses returning to IT, and leaving it.

I left IT seven years ago, when my second child was born, and now I'm ready to get back into it. I used to do Windows support and some Exchange administration. How bad is my timing? Do I need a skills refresher before anyone will even talk to me? It's never too late to get back to work. Employers will want to know if your skills are up to date. Good references attesting to how well you've done in the workplace are a must, as are evidence that you're up to speed on the latest versions and releases of Microsoft tools, platforms, applications, etc. Taking refresher courses is good, demonstrating practical application is better, and showing a prospective employer that you are a team player and know your stuff is highly relevant. In addition, if you did any support work on a volunteer or part-time basis during your seven-year hiatus, include that experience; it shows that you stayed involved in the field.

Overall, be persistent in your job quest, and realistic: Depending on your years of experience, you may be looking at starting at entry level again. You will need to market yourself through as many avenues as possible, including networking with former colleagues, to get to that all-important interview. With the current state of the job market, you will be competing against a larger pool of applicants, so don't give up.

I've been offered a fairly decent early retirement package. I'm 62, but I'm not eager to spend my days watching TV yet. I figure that even if I take the offer, I'll look for another job. But I actually like the job I have and don't want to put myself out there when others my age are having trouble finding work. The offer is enticing, but I wonder whether I would regret leaving this job. I guess I just want an outsider's view. First off, if you decide to take the package, make sure you believe you'll have financial stability for the long haul if you can't find another job. If you're comfortable with the package, you may want to consider taking it, but you should also evaluate your current skills and look at the job market to see if there are opportunities to pursue. In today's job climate, another job may be hard to come by. You can also test the waters and see if you can get another job lined up before you take the retirement package, as this would allow for an easier transition. Or you may want to take early retirement as an opportunity to explore doing something new and different.

If you decide to stay put, you'll want to make sure you're planning for your retirement anyway. My best advice on this would be to establish as many options for yourself as possible so you can choose what's best for you. See if your company's human resources department offers planning services. The bottom line is to arm yourself with knowledge on retirement so you can make the best choices.

Always a Silver Lining

Sure, the economy is far from sunny, but that doesn't mean it's completely devoid of bright spots. Accountemps sponsored a survey of 457 U.S. office workers and found that 77% reported at least one positive effect that the recession has had on their jobs.

What positive effects, if any, has the recession had on you and your job?

  • Taken on new projects: 53%
  • Gained more responsibility: 52%
  • Taken on more challenging work: 52%
  • Had more interactions with management: 44%
  • Had more interactions with clients or customers: 38%
  • Been promoted: 12%
  • None of these: 23%

Note: Multiple responses were allowed.

84,217

That's the number of job cuts announced in the U.S. tech sector in Q1. It represents an increase of 27% from the 66,312 announced job cuts in the fourth quarter, and it's nearly five times the 17,345 cuts announced during the same period a year earlier. But as outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas notes, quarterly technology job cuts are far below the levels reached during the dot-com collapse of 2001-02, when 1,163,742 tech-sector jobs were lost and employers announced an average of 145,467 job cuts each quarter.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., April 2009

Compiled by Jamie Eckle.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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