Career Coach - 5

Reader Question: My brilliant career has stalled out. Should I consider relocating to an area with more opportunities?

Career Coach is a column that gives IT professionals a chance to pose questions about training, certification, salaries or any other career-related issues to eWEEKs panel of IT managers, hiring and training experts.

Dear Career Coach: My brilliant career has stalled out. I was working for one of the hottest startup companies in the Bay Area before the dot-com bubble. I did various roles from consulting, to training to courseware development for this software company (Sybase).

The dot-com boom came just as Sybases boom was imploding, so like many of my peers I left for greener pastures designing and building the database back ends for online web sites. It seemed like I made a good move. For the last 12 months, it has become abundantly clear that there are few if any positions that I can perform. The area I live in is flooded with qualified candidates, and there are few if any new companies in need of a database designer, DBA or course developer.

After living here for 20 years, I never thought Id be thinking of moving out strictly because of unemployment. But thats the situation. I admit I havent been networking nearly hard enough. Before the economic collapse, I was used to headhunter calls every night – so many that I never wanted to post my resume to a career board. Now, its been about 13 months since I first posted my resume on Dice, Monster, Hot Jobs.

Ive attached my resume, which probably also could use a little work. Any advice, feedback or other noise will be greatly appreciated!
Thanks, Doug Smith

Randy Dugger

Career Coach: RANDY DUGGER

Doug, you face a very interesting decision point in your career. Hang through the slow period hoping things are going to improve in the near future, or move into another geographical area and possibly face the same thing there?

Living in Silicon Valley, I really can understand the temptation to move out to an area where housing costs are cheaper, the cost living is less, and probably commute traffic is far less, too. However, you have to consider what you are after and if moving to another area will really improve anything. Also you should consider your spouses career path. If her career is doing well, will moving hurt it?

One of the unspoken rules of the living in the SF Bay Area is that its expensive to get in, but its extremely expensive to leave and try to come back later. If you own a house and have a lot of equity in it, this will make the transition to another area easier. However, think about what would happen if things heated up here again.. I know I could not afford to re-purchase the house Im currently in if I tried to come back to Silicon Valley.

In reviewing your resume, I was left wondering what you have really done. A lot of qualifications are listed, but the resume doesnt indicate how they were used at the companies where you were employed. I believe the Career Objective section of the resume is too generic. What you have accomplished really needs to be brought out more. In looking through the resume, I would be interested in the projects you did and whether or not they were accomplished on budget and time?

Since you have what appears to be an extensive database background, it might benefit you to look at cross-training into the Oracle line of products. There might be more opportunities there for you.

I would also consider the temp agencies for job contract work too, but I dont really know how well they are doing for placements. As an independent consultant, your biggest challenge will be letting potential customers know you are available and what you can do for them. Perhaps its time to scan the papers and online for user group meetings. Sometimes interesting leads come out of those. Especially if you can get into the speaking circles.

Charity work for groups in the SF Bay Area is often another overlooked opportunity. While helping out your community, it does bring you into a very interesting network of people. Yes, you might not get paid, but if the work really contributes to a group, your name will circulate and hopefully present you with new paid opportunities.

Bottom line, you need to evaluate what you want to do with your career before considering a move out of the area. Should you move, should you cross train, should do charity/volunteer work and what is the impact on your spouses career should you decide to move to another area?

Keep us posted on your progress.

Randy Dugger is CEO of Dugger & Associates, based in Silicon Valley. He is also an eWeek Corporate Partner.