resumes, certification, changing careers

Subject: resumes, certification, changing careers
From: Frederick Falk <ftf -at- ABM -dot- AUSTIN -dot- TX -dot- US>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996 15:56:55 -0600

Several individuals have asked what was it like for you...
Well, having had experience in several of these areas, I feel
compelled to answer those issues that I have had direct
experience with.
A little history about me:
I graduated from a four year university with a BS in Computer
Science and went to work in Dallas TX as a junior level
programmer starting at 16,000 in 1982. I started this low
because my GPA was below 2.5. Ugh. Too much party and not
enough study. In two years, I was making 25,000 so my GPA on
my resume was to help (but in this case, hindered) me get my
foot in the door. Trying to get my first job was very trying
since my GPA was so low because everyone wanted experience. I
was told that my first job would give me experience, but I would
then take that experience to some other company after two years
of working for the first company. Nah, I said and, two years
later, I had quit my first job and moved to Alabama to be a
Project Leader. On my first couple of resumes, I listed hobbys,
health, marital status, no children, etc. because I thought it
would help me find a job. It didn't. *EXPERIENCE* halped me
find jobs. The only thing I now list on my resume besides
experience and where I graduated college, is any professional
organizations that I belong to, like: Data Processing Management
Which brings me to my next point. DPMA has long had a
certification process for DP managers, Programmers, Associate
programmers and the like for many years. The process of
certification is long and expensive and I have yet to apply to
a firm that has hired me or turned me down that said they were
looking for someone who was certified. As a programming manager
and later a DP manager, I have never hired anyone that was
certified. I looked at their experience and had them take a
little programming test to test their basic knowledge skills
and how well they could solve a problem. I believe that
certification will only truely work in the fields where people
are forced to go out and find someone to do something for them,
and the searchee is using the certification as a means to weed
the chaff from the wheat. For instance, lawyers, doctors, and
plumbers have been mentioned on this list as professions that
have been certified and reason for techwriters to also be
certified. You are comparing apples to oranges. The above
professions are external in that I as a consumer am seeking
them out to perform a service for me. It will be short term
and if I don't like them, I can get a new one. I don't fire my
doctor, I just start using another one. A tech writer on the
other hand, is more permanent. Even contract tech writers try
to get additional work on an on-going basis with a satisfied
client. Permanant employ is more the norm and I don't think
certification will help in finding employment. They want to
see *EXPERIENCE* on that resume, NOT that you are a certified
to be a tech writer.
AS for changing careers, I am a programmer who is tired of
programming and wants to do something different after 13+ years
of programming. Also, my company is phasing out the language
I am proficient in and wants me to learn C++. Ugh!! No thanks.
I will try something else. One of the reasons I enjoy
programming, is I like to write and I like to make people's
jobs easier for them. Technical Writing will allow me to do
both and I have a wide array of experience in many technical
fields that I have been employed in. My current employer is
allowing me to program during the day for my salary and is
letting me do technical writing at night from my home on a
contract basis. This is ging me additional income that I can
really use and also gives me *EXPERIENCE* that I will need
someday if I ever leave here. It also allows me to find out
if this is really what I want to do the rest of my career.
As for cost of living, a lot of things come into play.
In Alabama, they have state income tax but very low property
tax. In Texas, no state income tax (yet) but a very high
property tax which kept us from qualifing for a new home
when we moved back. Food prices, gasoline, electricity rates
all add up. You have to do your homework and don't trust an
index. Also, check out your employer's benefit package. I was
burned big time in a job move because I didn't check into how
much my new employer expected me to pay for medical benefits.
My previous job paid everything while my new job required me
to shell out 350+ a month for a family of three to have the
same medical benefits.
I am sorry this was so long, but I wanted to address
several people's questions on what I had first hand
experience in. I look forward to all of the non-boring
discussion on these topics and many more as I go back to
lurking mode.
Frederick "Magic Fingers" Falk
He who answers before listening,
that is his folly and his shame. Proverbs 18:13

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