4

I'm in my late thirties, and have been out of full-time employment for almost 10 years.

Prior to that, I worked for six years in software development and systems engineering (fields in which I had experimented from a very young age); and then for a few years in corporate finance at an investment bank. I have a masters degree in computer science from one of the world's top universities, and have studied law as a post-graduate.

During the past 10 years, I have undertaken various pieces of consultancy work and have been involved in a business venture with a friend—but I don't feel that I have greatly added to my experience or skills.

I'm keen to get back into full-time employment, but I can't quite see where I fit. It feels like most recruiters want to see recent experience in a relevant field, which I don't exactly have—and their rigid application forms/processes are not well designed for unusual backgrounds like mine. So far, I've had zero responses (not even acknowledgements) from the posts for which I've applied.

How can I stand out from the crowd, when I'm probably not exactly what employers have in mind (but I believe could nevertheless be very valuable to them)?

  • Are you saying that the consultancy work and the business venture were part time endeavors (i.e. the combination is much less than 40 hours a week on average)? Or when you talk about "full-time employment" are you just thinking about being a full-time employee of a corporation as opposed to being a full-time consultant/ entrepreneur? Why wouldn't the last 10 years have added to your experience and skills? It seems odd that work you did 16 years ago would have more value than work you're doing now. – Justin Cave Feb 18 at 23:04
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    @JustinCave: Broadly, yes, they have really been part-time endeavours; whilst in some weeks I may well have worked over 40 hours, those have very much been the exception. Certainly I can identify some value from this past decade—but other than developing broad commercial and management skills, I can't really point to much substantive technical experience in computing, law or (to a lesser extent) finance—which are (were?) my core backgrounds. Perhaps the problem is that I'm not entirely sure what sort of role can best make use of this broad range of skills (especially without deep expertise). – user100037 Feb 18 at 23:13
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    If you're a really good programmer - it won't matter in the slightest – Fattie Feb 19 at 0:13
  • "So far, I've had zero responses from the posts for which I've applied." HOW MANY? 30-40 applications is nothing, barely starting – Fattie Feb 19 at 0:13
  • A start-up sounds like a good idea. Whether yours or someone ele's – Mawg Feb 19 at 10:55
5

After a stroke, I was out of full time work for 5 years.

Here's how I got back into the industry, full time, and back in my field. Try something similar.

  1. Volunteer doing the work you want to be doing, that will give you recent, practical experience.
  2. Apply to a company that has a department that does what you want to do. I had been working for a convenience store that had their own IT department. I got in the door, worked at a store and stared applying as an internal candidate.
  3. Network, network, network, and then network some more. Talk to friends, family, acquaintances. Tell everyone you know that you want to get back to doing full time work.

3 is especially important. When people see you are serious, and are striving to improve yourself, they will open doors for you. Now, in general, people tend to be uneasy about sticking their necks out, but if they see that you are willing, able, eager to step up, they will open up doors for you.

1 is important, as while volunteer work doesn't pay, it give experience, and it impresses people.

1

You'll probably have more success applying to smaller companies than the larger corporate ones. They rarely get the same deluge of applicants, are much more likely to have a use for people with a varied skill sets who can fill multiple roles at a pinch, and tend not to have rigid application forms that are a poor fit for someone of your experience. Instead you get to set your own stall out with your CV and cover letter.

With an impressive early career and educational qualifications you ought to be off to a good start. Your business and consulting career might not have been the success you hoped it was going to be, but don't forget that most people don't even get to the point where they could start one so it's still a plus overall. Feel free to cherry pick the highlights most relevant to a particular job and try to draw as many parallels as possible between what you've done and what thy want.

The only obvious thing that might count against you is a lack of the latest buzzwords which, unfortunately, are frequently searched upon to cull down applicant lists. Doing a bit of homework on these will tell you which ones you'll be able to wing from your existing skills - I'm sure there are a good dozen or so where you'd find all you need to know about them with half an hour's research - and which might need a bit of time invested in a hobby project to pick up, as well as the ones you won't want to touch with a bargepole. There's a course for pretty much everything on Coursera too if you feel the need for a piece of paper to back them with.

Other than that, keep firing off applications, follow up if you don't hear back, and request feedback from anyone who deigns to speak to you.

0

It's sounds like a non-issue.

the last 10 years you had your own consultancy.

So your CV looks like this

  • AAAAAAA Degree (!)
  • ... minor in commercial law (!)
  • 2003-2008 Famous Investment Bank (!)
  • ... lead in charge of synthetic generative algorithmic (!)
  • 2008-2018 McDonald Consulting (!)
  • ... senior consultant financial software multinational clients (!)

What more do you want? Gosh.

"Perhaps the problem is that I'm not entirely sure what sort of role can best make use of this broad range of skills (especially without deep expertise)"

You're worrying about nothing. What you will be doing is "programming".

If you're a Truly Good Programmer, you can pick and choose programming jobs.

Don't sweat it if you have an only moderate salary for a few months.

  • Not sure why this is getting downvotes, as this looks like good advice to me. Technologies may come and go but programming is 90% transferable skills. You just need a hobby project (something for the business maybe?) to get you up to speed, and you're back in the game. – Matthew Barber Feb 19 at 3:08
0

You seem over-worried to me. Your experience is relevant in all cases.

Your background is solid enough to get back on tracks and reach a permanent position. The only thing that matters now is, as Richard U said :

  1. Network, network, network, and then network some more. Talk to friends, family, acquaintances. Tell everyone you know that you want to get back to doing full time work.

Networking is the key to reach a goal, tell people about it and let the noise make its own path. People will hear about you soon enough and be either interested and/or intrigued by you. You are a senior in several relevant fields, which may make you over-qualified for some positions.

However, by explicitly stating what position you want (I assume IT department), you will ease the process of your comeback.

Here are some steps I would recommend :

  1. Networking

    Keep doing that, never stop

  2. Update your resume to match the position you want. Make it shiny and fashion.

    If your struggling to fit all in, remove/lower importance (for) irrelevant experiences

  3. Upload your resume on some social networking platform (once again, not a crappy but relevant one)

    You can specify here everything you've done, don't limit yourself to IT position, write it all

  4. Train yourself on new techs, methods, processes, ...

    Keep doing that too, never stop either

  5. Apply to positions
  6. Don't let applications go unseen / forgotten

    Keep reminding HR (be reasonable, avoid harassment) that you're interested until you reach an interview

    DO NOT LET GO OFF THE PHONE WITHOUT AN INTERVIEW

    That is extremely important

I don't need to explain why Networking is so important, it has already been explained greatly by Richard U.

3 is important to gain visibility and activity, HR WILL see you there and you will see them. That's related to 1.

4 on the other hand is based on pure assumption as your IT background may have become "outdated" for some positions. You are a senior developer, but your methods and languages may have been deprecated, enhance and renew your skills !

This will show several important factors about you, such as being able to adapt to new technologies (Fork some projects on Github, code and contribute to some others for fun, learn to enjoy it all over again).

Now,

It feels like most recruiters want to see recent experience in a relevant field, which I don't exactly have

I don't think that it's true. IMHO, recruiters will apply such process to juniors, not to someone with such a heavy and adaptive background as yours. If so, an up-to-date Github portfolio will do the trick.

and their rigid application forms/processes are not well designed for unusual backgrounds like mine

Then contact them directly without passing by such form. If they still want you to apply this way, do it, but not without letting HR know about you prior to that. You have to pop into their heads enough that whenever they see your name they go "Oh, this is that guy again".

And slowly but surely "That guy again" will reach their thoughts enough to accept an interview with them. Do not be afraid to ask for one, you have the right to do so, don't wait for them to make the moves !

So far, I've had zero responses (not even acknowledgements) from the posts for which I've applied.

You should go and get those responses, waiting just allows HR to forget about you.

Hello, I am inquiring about my application to X position submitted on dd/mm/yyyy to which I didn't have an answer yet [...]

Finally

[...] but I believe could nevertheless be very valuable to them

That's the spirit. Play on that and keep believing in it, if you believe it enough, HR will be convinced and see your potential rather than your recent experiences.

0

It is true that having multiple domains is tricky to handle for some companies. They still have big silos and even if you can use your skills from several of them, you will probably get one big domain and the others will agglomerate on it.

One important thing I notice was Open Source work. Lots of employers will value the projects that you did outside, as this is something they can look at. This landed me lots of interviews. It also builds your network.

For instance, in my case, I have a background in machine learning, signal processing, medical imaging, and lastly music and I worked in earth science and finance. And yes, some people were not seeing this as great, but then these kind of employers may not be the best fit for someone who likes to learn and is curious.

So build your online resume, sell yourself!

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