What would be the best approach for an experienced IT professional who has been out of the market for two years and close to retirement?

Specifically, how can I translate my experience and skill with older technologies to the present job market, and what new technologies would be best to learn to increase one's marketability.

Are skill such as web design, PHP, Python, Ruby, C#, worth learning, or are there other technologies and or job positions I should consider?

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    For young people battling the problem of needing experience to get a job, and needing a job to get experience, I often suggest open source software development. You get to demonstrate skills in a public forum, and build an network. Maybe that would work for you? – Patricia Shanahan Jun 15 '16 at 15:56
  • I have applied fort Business Analyst roles, but employers seem to want some experience as an analyst.. – Sam Jun 15 '16 at 18:19
  • As written the question amounts to asking for personalised career advice which is off-topic here (see help center). Consider rewording your question to something with a more practical answer or about the general case of leaving the IT industry for 2 years instead of "can I find a job in IT?" which is impossible for us to answer. – Lilienthal Jun 15 '16 at 19:11
  • @sam as per the previous comment, specific questions aren't going to live long around here. I edited your post to make it more general – Old_Lamplighter Jun 15 '16 at 19:32
  • @PatriciaShanahan do you know anyone that's worked well for? – user42272 Jun 15 '16 at 20:07

I was in the same position after suffering a stroke eight years ago and was out of the field for five years Right now, there is a dearth of IT people so age isn't the career killer that it once was. There are plenty of "legacy systems" out there that the younger generation does not want to touch as they see them as 'career killers'. Look for those kinds of jobs and study some newer technologies on your own time and you will be able to do well.

If you already know VB or C/C++, learning C# would be a breeze. I'd suggest C# regardless as it is in demand everywhere and isn't going away.

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  • Thanks for advice and encouragement, I am currently learning C# – Sam Jun 15 '16 at 18:17
  • @Sam so much coding discipline has been lost over the years. Nobody documents anything anymore, and code libraries are almost never used. emphasize your skills in those techniques as well as some of the clever things you had to do back in the day. Those skills have value again. Smart devices require efficient code, and systems are getting tighter again. The skills you picked up when memory was at a premium are themselves at a premium these days! Good luck, you can do it! – Old_Lamplighter Jun 15 '16 at 19:02
  • @RichardU and a lot of (nowadays?) project manager just consider that document things is a waste of time, even designing, only code is productivity. I have seen that already quite a lot... Sofware engineering if like dying on some places – Walfrat Jun 16 '16 at 8:19
  • @Walfrat they expect someone to take over without any documentation. As they expect everyone does the same :) – Raoul Mensink Jun 16 '16 at 9:50
  • @RaoulMensink I always include my private email and phone in my code. I've been complimented that even non-coders can understand it. That's the way we older coders learned. Sam has real value he could add to any employer. – Old_Lamplighter Jun 16 '16 at 12:19

You are not wasting your time by learning new skills. If for nothing else, it keeps your mind busy and preventing mental atrophy. And it is never bad to have new skills under your belt when you are looking for employment.

Problem here is, age discrimination. Even though they can not ask you how old you are, by looking at your background (I am pretty sure you have a Linked In page which shows a degree with a graduation date or some other social media profile for that matter) or just by talking to you in an interview, they can guess your age give or take few years. And unfortunately, in the IT industry, where younger and more adept to new technologies population is coming out in hoards and outsourcing so much of IT operations to overseas is so easy, there is almost no role for an older worker at an IT shop, unless you are going for a management position. And unless you have prior management experience, no one will ever look at you as a possible manager.

I will be honest. The job outlook is grim for the old timers in IT industry. But one thing is on your side: The Experience and every shop needs at least a few, extremely experienced subject matter experts. My suggestion is to look for those opportunities, by networking with others and finding companies, suffering from conditions that you have the answers for. Those companies more than likely are not aware of their problems. It is your initiative to explain your value to them.

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  • +1 For beeing honest & on the right track here. Those fancy skills only help in job-searching by showing some commitment on the resume, but at this age no one is going to hire the OP for something like an entry level web-dev position with only self-tought knowledge and no relevant on-the-job experience. – s1lv3r Jun 15 '16 at 16:49
  • +1 I would add that the techniques of efficient programming that we had to learn by necessity with the systems of the day are at a premium now. Nobody under 30 knows them any longer. – Old_Lamplighter Jun 16 '16 at 12:21

To break back in to the field you need to utilise everything you already have. Primarily at your age you should have a network of people in the industry who know you. You need to contact these people and see if they can be useful. And if they know anywhere you can apply that would be a good fit for you in terms of what you already have.

The skills are more problematic, but nothing has changed that drastically in two years. If you're not already familiar with PHP and SQL you need to ask yourself why (these have been around a LOT longer than two years), I wouldn't advise learning a bit and trying to get a job based on that. The people you're competing with haven't just learnt it yesterday.

Make a list of what you are strong with and look for something that suits, you can work on other stuff later. For more mature people a management position might be more suitable and easier to get, so look at all your options. Don't be shy to use your network, it's a major reason for having one.

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Proficiency in SQL is always valuable. Being an expert in an older technology isn't always a bad thing either - a lot of Cobol programmers made a killing when Y2K rolled around and companies needed to update older code.

I am sure there are shops using Business Objects. Some of them may have a developer older than you who is about to retire. Guess how many 20-somethings know anything about Business Objects? Or would even apply to those jobs in the first place?

Depending on where you live it might be a good idea to search nationwide for "remote opportunities" - work from home. The company that desperately needs you might be 500 miles away.

As for learning new skills, pick just one that seems viable and dig into it. Don't worry about becoming an expert, just worry about getting to the point where you are productive and know how to research the bits you don't yet know.

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  • Thanks for the advice, especially on the remote opportunities! – Sam Jun 15 '16 at 18:16

Other than the technical skills suggested by the answers so far, you should invest yourself in some soft skills for an updated workplace. Some people do not want to discriminate older workers, but some attitudes could turn off the HR and the hiring managers right away. You've asked a question here and it is a good indication that you know where to look for some information.

Here are some soft skills that may be useful for you:

  • Keep an open mind: If you meet someone whose ethnical background is not familiar with you, do not apply stereotypes right away.
  • Team work: Rarely any work is an individual effort nowadays.
  • Develop a business sense: Understand why some products thrives but some don't. This will help you in choosing the technologies to pick up.

Good luck!

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