Help With Starting A New Career

I have recently become unemployed and am finding that my previous experience is not going to help me get me a new job without some very specific training and certification of some sort, and I need to consider getting myself some training. In my last company, I was involved with a lot of the technical aspects of my industry from lasers to PLCs to project management to high-vacuum applications and micro-photolithography, even though I have no formal education to speak of.

One task that I took on for my last company was database design using Access, and even though I was totally self-taught, I was pretty good at it. Now that I have to contemplate changing careers, perhaps my best bet would be something in the IT industry.

Looking at various employment websites (Monster, Dice, JobSever, etc.), I see a ton of jobs related to XML, .NET, SQL, Oracle and a host of others.

  1. Can you give me any advice on how to proceed – or even if I should proceed? Can taking some online courses for a few weeks or months help to get employed, considering that after the training, I would still have no experience at all?
  2. Are there any online learning courses available that are particularly effective for a specific discipline?
  3. Do you have any specific recommendations about XML, .NET, etc., or should I concentrate on learning any specific programming languages?

I know that this is a complicated subject, and I’m sure that I haven’t begun to ask the right questions, but any guidance you can give me to get started will be appreciated.

I think the first step should be developing an overall plan. You got as far as you did with no formal education, but these days people are in a lifelong learning mode that combines formal education, informal education, and experience in an ongoing way.

I would not rely too much on online programs at this stage. You want to focus just as much on meeting people and seeing how a course of study fits together as a whole as you do on just learning languages and standards. A visit to the local community college to talk with an advisor would be a good place to start.

One thing to consider is getting certifications that validate what you already know, rather than just concentrating on learning new stuff. Sometimes just having that piece of paper will open more doors than just the experience itself.

The specifics of what programming language aren’t my thing, but talk to people locally. The right thing to do may depend on what companies are in your area, or whether you are able to relocate, etc.

Also - a general piece of job searching advice. Consider your former employer’s customers, competitors, vendors, and regulators as potential sources of employment. They likely have people who do similar stuff, and may value your knowledge of or relationship with your former employer.

Thanks, Harriet. This is very good advice.

This is not something that I’ve examined closely, but makes perfect sense. It seems that most employers and certainly the recruiters are looking for that piece of paper, and that’s what I’m lacking.