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My question will be whether the situation I'm going to describe should be mentioned, emphasized, or omitted when writing a resume.

After many years with the company an Application Developer sees a legacy business-critical application all the way to its ultimate retirement. In fact for the last few years he was the sole developer to maintain and support the system and quite successfully kept the system up-to-date and running.

After all end of life procedures and processes are completed, the developer (for whatever reasons) is not able to obtain another position with the company.

There are at least two ways one can look at this situation:

  • passive behavior, lack of ambition, etc.
  • someone who was entrusted with an important task and completed the job

So how should it be reflected on the resume?

  • 1
    Hypothetical questions run the risk of being open-ended (See the help); this question is going to end up being just opinions. – user8365 Jun 9 '14 at 18:09
  • @JeffO Writing a resume is not a precise science. So any answer to almost any resume context question will be based on its author's opinion. I specifically started my post with a 3 discreet choices to narrow down the scope. – PM 77-1 Jun 9 '14 at 18:23
3

Omit?

I'm going to bet that omission will look completely odd. If this is going to cause a gap of a month or more, than it will look weird to omit the experience entirely. I'm leaping to the conclusion that this was your full time job and you spent a non-trivial amount of time in this role.

If, however, you supported a legacy system for a few hours a week and you had a way more interesting other job, feel free to omit.

Mention?

Absolutely. It's part of your job history.

  • if you want to continue to use the legacy technology, highlight all the jargon on your resume.
  • if not focus on the softer side - the area of responsibility, ingenuity, and big picture perspective and independent problem solving prowess.

Emphasize?

If you are focused on keeping up with the legacy technology, then emphasize that.

If not, you want to set the tone of dedicated but willing to learn. Be actively engaged in learning something new and make sure it's on there. I hired an awesome last man standing who had never worked in my subject domain, but who was going to school nights to catch up and working on a personal project in my domain. It showed he was willing to take the initiative to learn and didn't expect it to be easy.

Have Ready

An answer to the question "why are you looking?". It should be more than "there is no job available in my current company". It may be true, but be clear on why.

These answers sound good:

  • My company is moving all work like this to another location and I'm not willing to move.
  • My company is dying and now that the product is loved is gone, so am I.
  • Everyone I liked and respected left.
  • The only options in the local location are an unacceptable work/life tradeoff.
  • I don't see very interesting work in the company. I like X, they do Y.

These answers don't:

  • I have no idea, but my boss told me to look.
  • All the jobs in my company turned me down.
  • I hate new technology and I don't want to learn it.

Most companies that aren't doing a radical move want to retain good people who work hard - so the goal is to present the fact that the company is making a radical move, rather than that you aren't a great person that the company would want to retain.

3

It sounds like you gained a lot of valuable experience by maintaining that system. Don't leave it off your resume, but do reword it based on the company that you are sending your resume to.

There are plenty of companies out there (banks in particular) that are looking for people who are willing and able to work on old systems. In your case, having worked with an older technology would be a major plus, especially if you are still willing to work with that older technologies (or a different, old technology.) The number of people that are willing to do this kind of work is shrinking and the banks still have major needs. Be sure to call or otherwise investigate a prospective company to see if they have needs in that area. If so, then adding specific details about your experience would be very helpful.

If this is not your plan and you do want to work with newer technology, you will need to focus on responsibilities and accomplishments more than language specific resume attributes. Being the sole developer probably included self management and/or project management elements. Also, focus on the positive aspects of your experience and don't get stuck thinking that every company out there would frown on it. Some may, but those aren't the ones you should be focusing on anyway. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and your job prospecting needs to be more focused, researched and detail oriented anyway.

However, you may really want to work at one of those 'less than receptive' companies. It may be a great time to get reeducated (possibly with a project management focus) or take on some smaller jobs to gain some diverse experience.

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Mentioned, certainly. It's going to be obvious useful code experience at the very least. Leaving it out might create odd gaps that would be hard to explain. It'll also convey that you are more experienced in the workplace and hopefully more mature than your counterparts. The fact that old software got retired isn't a black mark, it's just what happens in computer land.

That said, I'd also do my best to highlight a new / modern programming skill. I can absolutely respect an experienced dev, but in order to consider hiring them I want to make sure they have kept up to date, just like I'd expect any younger dev to. Mention a modern language, the blogs and books you've been reading, etc. - don't just focus on the legacy skills, unless that is genuinely the only area you want to work in.

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