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I am jobless. 10 months ago, I was a Technical Project Manager for a brief stint. Prior to that I was into Java web application development working with various frameworks like Struts,Spring,Hibernate,JPA etc. Now I have a break of 10 months. I do not find a single company responding to my job applications with Project Manager's Profile. My 12 year old career is laced with breaks of 1 year to 6 months. and I am aged 42 now. My immediate goal now is to look for a Job and I have the following options:

  1. Keep looking for a Technical Project manager role. Still waiting for a job in this role with my resume in various job portals with a profile of Project Manager, there are no responses from companies. One of the reason could be that I am not PMI Certified.

  2. Learn On Demand tools like AWS/DevOps, Data science, MicroServices etc. Update my profile accordingly, go back to my previous role e.g. developer. Learning new technologies though unrelated to my previous experience, may help me in my career. Once I join a company with developer profile, I can prove my capabilities and can step up to a higher position gradually.

I can consider this option, but apprehensive of the response from the companies as they tend to hire fresh grads or younger folks for these roles.

  1. Start my own company. I still do not have enough finances and resources for this.

Option 2 is my consideration but, based on your experiences or of some one you have come across in a similar situation like this what are my options to get back on track?

  • If contracting is an option, no one will care about those gaps. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Aug 30 at 6:58
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    @Mawg thanks. I am fine with contracting , I will check with recruiters for contractual jobs. – Tauri Aug 30 at 9:28
  • You can always switch back later, if you want to. But, if you anticipate more gaps in future, then contracting is for you. Good luck – Mawg says reinstate Monica Aug 30 at 10:01
  • "Start my own company. I still do not have enough finances and resources for this." You don't need finances or multiple resources to start a company. You can put up a one man shop, keeping in mind that you ideally want to be able to produce processes/services that can run without you. I recommend checking out the Millionare Fastlane by MJ Demarco for more on this topic. – Jonast92 Aug 30 at 13:35
  • @Tauri, if you can reword your question to be "I am in this situation, what are my options to get back on track?" rather than "which of these should I choose?", maybe your question will be taken off hold. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Aug 30 at 16:00
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You can obviously get back to the 2. point, the thing is that you have to be able to show demonstred skills as a developer, no matter your experience (another problem can be that companies will consider a junior position only for fresh grades = lower salary, even if you are not asking for a high salary you might fall out of consideration).

What I suggest you if you are considering the second option is to train your skills, you can take a few weeks to update your knowledge, then take an interview for a job that is not in your "dream company" to see if you are ready to apply to better jobs.

  • Thanks @stbr! I agree with you, I will go with point 2. – Tauri Aug 30 at 4:49
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This is a tough situation to be in. What I have heard from recruiters (and the experiences of friends and relatives has confirmed this) is that in the IT world any employment gap of longer than two months in your resume will cause prospective employers to shuffle you to the back of the pile. A six month gap sends you straight to the "round file". I've heard there are only two exceptions, the road trip ("I decided to take a year off to travel in France") and caring for a sick relative. However, the good excuse doesn't help if you are automatically round-filed.

My husband fell into this pit a few years ago. He had worked as an electrical engineer for the same company for 15 years and when the company divested itself of its American offices he found himself laid off with a six month severance. So he spent six months (ignoring my dire predictions) messing around with his inventions and when he finally got back into the job market he spent four months with almost no responses to his resumes. He finally had an old colleague put in a good word for him at a company and once he got back into the job-stream he was fine, but it was a rough time for us.

I had my own brush with it back in the early 2000's, when I was around 40. I had been primarily a DOS based programmer and the world was moving to Windows based and Visual Studio, so I took a job doing VB6 for a few years. When that company went under I found myself "virtually unemployable" according to the recruiters. Prospective employers would look at my resume, see "VB6" and say "oh, she's not a real programmer" (ignoring the fact that I had been doing C for ten years prior) and toss out my resume.

Here's how I got back on track. I went back to school for a term. I took all the advanced classes (taking SQL III as your first introduction to the technology isn't something I'd recommend to the faint hearted. I figured, hey, it's not a real language, how hard could it be... :) I sucked every ounce of juice that I could out of the classes, doing all the assignments and extra credit even if I already had the "A", I wasn't doing it for the grades...

Then, I started my own business. I wrote an app to keep track of immunizations for my daughter's day care. I created an HTML page for my church. I created a web based questionnaire for my sister-in-law's company. I had a DBA and a public facing web page and business cards and everything :)

I didn't get paid for any of it, at least, not much, but I did the work and it looked good on a resume. That finally landed me a job with Intel, and my career has been on track ever since. I don't let any moss grow beneath my feet when I find myself on the job market.

Things don't always work out. I have a friend (also in his forties at the time) who had to quit his IT job to care for his wife who was seriously ill. She recovered enough to go back to work after a couple of years, but his career never did. He has been going to job fairs and studying tutorials and haunting recruiters' doorsteps for years. I think he's just given up by now and prospective employers can sense that.

BTW, I have tried going the junior role route but companies don't want to hire old people for junior roles. The reason has little to do with skill-sets, and more to do with the fact that in IT you need to be, as they put it in interviews, "excited by new technologies". Older people seldom are, and those that are seldom have gaps in their resumes.

I'd recommend that you start by talking to recruiters about what technologies are "hot" right now. Looking through Linked-in and Glass Door job requirements will also tell you a lot. Take the top five which are hot now (that will all change by next year so study fast) and go through the tutorials. I'd recommend either Linked-in (https://www.linkedin.com/learning/me) or Pluralsight (https://app.pluralsight.com/). Their tutorials are extremely well organized, and the purpose is to bring a newbie to the technology up to speed, which is what you want.

Good luck. You'll need it, I'm afraid. If you've only been in this profession for 12 years and you already have multiple breaks of "1 year to 6 months" you are going to have a hard time selling yourself to an IT hiring person. The expectation is that you live and breathe IT, that you code in your sleep (no kidding, I actually had someone ask me on a job interview if I ever found myself coding in my dreams). The big gaps will be hard to explain.

  • Thanks @Francine, I agree with you, while I consider your recommendation, right now I am developing an App now, and would want to showcase it to my prospective clients and want to proceed accordingly. – Tauri Aug 30 at 4:47
  • Excellent, @Tauri. I hope this will act as a "wake up call" for you, as it was for me. IT is a high demand profession, I always liken it to running downhill with a boulder bouncing behind you, gathering speed. I hope you can get up to speed :) Good luck... – Francine DeGrood Taylor Aug 30 at 15:58
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If you are in the U.S., PMI certification is considered the gold standard for project management positions. If you choose option 1, I strongly encourage you to pursue PMI certification. If you do not have PMI certification, and you are competing with other applicants who do, it is very unlikely that you will be the most competitive application unless there are exigent circumstances (deep domain knowledge, for example).

  • Thanks @HappyGilmore, I agree with you. I have started studying for PMP. Thank you! I would have upvoted you, but I have no privilege, thanks anyways. – Tauri Aug 30 at 4:38
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Depending on where you are looking some companies have dedicated routes for those in their 40s to jumpstart their career.

While I am not in your position, I am in the field and 10 months out can lead to you become somewhat behind with the trends. Many positions for part 1 would expect you to have the skills you outline in point 2, therefore if you are serious to remain on a fix career progression I would suggest going for a junior role.

However, have you looked into/is it possible in your location to be a contractor? I know many people around your age who have gone into contracting in a specific language and used the role to then learn new skills, new languages, alongside what they know.

Is this an option for you?

  • Thank you. I am ready for Contractual work, will try to learn new technology most probably Machine learning or DevOps/AWS. – Tauri Aug 30 at 4:48

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