Career Adviser

Dear Career Adviser:

I'm a (fairly) technical person with a computer science degree and a Web application development background. I want to see what's out there without being called by every recruiter, never mind letting my own company become aware I'm looking. - Hide Out Heather

Dear Hide Out:

Once you post your resume, forget about controlling the number of recruiters who call you, particularly in a tight job market, when you have a valued skill set. But here are some suggestions.

First, write a discreet online resume. Omit your name, the name of your alma mater and your current employer's name. Allude cryptically to the type of company you work for by industry segment and include your job title. Then create a temporary e-mail address at Yahoo or Hotmail to use as your sole means of contact, suggests Barbara Ling, author of Internet Recruiting Edge.

Use sites that let you post your resume confidentially and that can block it from being viewed by recruiters from companies you specify. Don't post your resume on the Web space provided by your company, link it to your company's home page or put it up on sites where your own company's recruiters are likely to find it.

But finally, be prepared for a sharp internal recruiter from your own company to notice. It's inevitable.

"Dear Career Adviser:

I have been programming on the Stratus Computer platform since 1985, and prior to that I was an IBM mainframe programmer. Since 1990, I've been consulting as an independent contractor and also via consulting firms. I am concerned that opportunities and installations for Stratus are drying up and giving way to client-based and Web platforms. I'm experienced in Cobol, PL/1 and C, but how can I gain experience with HTML, C++ and some of the newer technologies? - Stratus Senior

Dear Senior:

The hardware platform isn't as important as your software skills, which are more transferable, according to Robert Todd, chief learning architect at DigitalThink Inc., a San Francisco-based company that provides online technical training in Java, Oracle, Microsoft and Lotus applications, and other technologies.

So log on and learn to upgrade your technical skills in short order through course work on the Web and interaction with an expert tutor who is available for consultation as you move through the course via interactive exercises.

If you have no skills in databases, you'll need to take a series of SQL courses to understand the query language. But you could blast through those in as little as a month and then get to courses that involve real substance.

For certification, you'll need to go to an accredited testing center where the test can be monitored. If you're trying to phase yourself out of older technologies, this is a great solution, available anywhere you are, around the clock, while you get your hands on projects and exercises you can show on interviews. In a tight job market, this is a good way to get yourself going and then remarket yourself with some newer skills.

"Dear Career Adviser:

I have a bachelor's degree in computer science, a master's in systems management and five years' experience as a Unix systems administrator and webmaster (Solaris and True64 platforms) at a government agency. I also have some Oracle database administration experience. I like working on a variety of new projects and get bored with doing the same thing over and over again. Where do I go from here?

- Easily Bored

Dear Easily:

Combining your desire for variety with your skill set as an experienced systems administrator who is cross-trained in databases makes you a valuable candidate, according to Evan Corstorphine, director of operations and infrastructure at BenefitPoint Inc., an online benefits administration firm in San Francisco. Corstorphine cites three possible paths: deepening your skills technically, becoming a project manager or working your way into technical personnel management.

If you want to become a master "techie," take more Sun Microsystems Inc. systems administration courses, which will strengthen your networking fundamentals knowledge and deepen your understanding of routing, firewalls and switches, disk arrays and kernel optimization, Corstorphine advises.

Or you could explore project management, leveraging your technical knowledge across larger problems while working with a team to achieve results.

Technical personnel management jobs have all the elements of project management, plus a direct responsibility for supervising, mentoring and developing staff. However, if you're more of a "lone ranger" who's happier solving intricate problems as a solo act, sharpen your individual technical skills and don't commit to managing people or projects day-to-day.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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