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The Stigma of a Tech Support Background 613

An anonymous reader writes "Since the last semester of college I've been working as a first line tech support agent. At first it was just a way to earn some extra money; then it became a way to scrape by until I could find myself a real job. By now (almost two years in), it's beginning to feel like a curse. The problem I'm having is that no matter how many jobs I apply for, and no matter how well-written my applications are, I can't seem to get further than the first interview. For some reason it seems a lot of employers will completely overlook my degree in computer engineering, the fact that I can show them several personal projects that I've worked on, and that I can show them that I clearly possess the skills they are looking for. I've had several employers tell me to my face, and in rejection letters, that my 'professional background' isn't what they're looking for even when they've clearly stated that they're looking for recent graduates. In fact, a few have even told me that they decided against hiring me simply because I've worked in tech support at a call center for the last two years. I'm wondering if others have experienced similar problems and if there are any good ways to get employers to realize that my experience from tech support is actually a good thing and not a sign of incompetence."
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The Stigma of a Tech Support Background

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  • by ccguy ( 1116865 ) * on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:29PM (#25198183) Homepage

    first line tech support agent

    No offense intended, but at least the tech support people I talk to on the phone just follow a script (which make you follow), so to me first line support means 'a hurdle I need to pass asap'. Last time I needed "support" they asked me to reboot my computer, then press the windows key, move the mouse to 'run', then type c-m-d then press enter, then type in the black box 'i-p-c-o-n-f-i-g', etc. This was my telco and the problem was I didn't have service. The woman on the phone said they only supported Windows and because I said I had linux she wouldn't open a ticket. I had to fake replacing the linux computer with a windows one ("luckily" I had a work laptop around) before having a ticket open.

    Now, I'm not saying this is your case. But it's hard to believe that these kind of people are any good when it comes to computers. [I'm not saying they're stupid]

    Two years doing that - looks like they just can't find a better job. If they didn't find another job elsewhere and they didn't get promoted in their absolutely low level job...well, it doesn't scream 'talent', does it?

    I've had several employers tell me to my face [...] that my 'professional background' isn't what they're looking for

    You obviously had a chance to ask for more details, did you?

    Anyway...this is what I'd think if I was interviewing you, but I might be completely wrong. I'd like to think you would have a fair chance to change my mind, though.

    • I think this is an excellent take on it. And maybe instead of just listing it as tech support you can elaborate on what you were doing and demonstrate your troubleshooting skills more so than just that you were following a list created by someone else,; that your experience has forced you to have a greater understanding of the underlying technology than your peers.
      • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:42PM (#25198351) Homepage

        I agree. I wonder if he just meant that he wasn't promoted into management but he was now higher than 1st level. That question is a very important one.

        The other thing I would add is try smaller companies. I don't know who he is interviewing with (Fortune 500s, 1000s, 5000, companies of 100+, etc) but he may get a better shot at a small company where he can demonstrate his skills or they may be willing to give him a 90 day trial period.

        An entrepreneur who has had to push past obstacles and may be more willing to give you a shot. Somewhere you may be able to talk to someone other than a middle level HR guy you may be able to argue your case more.

        • by Freeside1 ( 1140901 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:01PM (#25198577)

          The other thing I would add is try smaller companies.

          I concur.
          I think smaller companies have better interviewers, and are more likely to give someone a shot for 90 days.
          Also important: never underestimate the importance of your references, personal and professional.

        • by Matheus ( 586080 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @07:05PM (#25199303) Homepage

          Yeah.. Obviously different companies allow more or less movement from a given team but I'll put myself out there as an example of why seeing someone lived on 1st Line Support for 2 years would be a negative.

          My first "white-collar" job (Junior summer of U) I was hired as a Front-Line tech support person. It was at an in-house dev firm and I along with 30 others were the start of their phone-support. I never made it to the call pool. During our week of training my abilities as a burgeoning developer brought me to performing more QA/Tuning functions. At some point, when I had free time, I did spend some time on the phone but at what could best be called 3rd level support (I call you.. you can't call me)

          1 week training, 2.5 months as dev-support liason, back-to-school for one last year. I don't want to degrade my fellow starting team but those that stayed in 1st level for any length of time were not destined to be developers. Everyone who had more to offer was given more responsibility (at the very least 2nd level.. most better)

          Sitting on 1st-Line phone support for two years can demonstrate: Lack of ability, Lack of drive, Lack of work-ethic, Poor communication skills, etc. Maybe you are not any of those things but you certainly haven't shown that to your current employer so why should an interviewer presume anything different?

          Just a thought..

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Chrisje ( 471362 )

            As an employee who started out by doing 3.5 years first level support for a host of products at first and then for particular larger accounts, I take offense.

            After the first years I rolled into Consulting, meaning implementation, maintenance and enhancement of customers' infrastructure. Then I held a job as a Pre-Sales Consultant for two and a half years, and I was an EMEA Escalation Manager for a year, but in the end I decided I simply like Tech Support so I stepped back into Software L2 support for enterp

      • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:36PM (#25199013) Homepage

        on what you were doing and demonstrate your troubleshooting skills

        I don't how it is in the US, but here in Europe no law will force you to list every single jobs that you have worked on. In fact nobody expects you to. Generally you don't give out an exhaustive résumé, instead you put focus on highlight a couple of entries that you think relevant to the job you're applying for.

        So a different approach would be to just remove the Tech Support from the begin of the résumé. Focus more on the academic achievement (Titles, Awards, Publications, etc.). Also on all the various opensource/personal project that you have developed or contributed (specially the ones now in production stage), trying to highlight the diversity of tools that you master.

        Of course at some point of the interview the question will come what you have been doing all this time between graduation and the present.
        The best is to only mention the job then and explain that you haven't considered your current job worthy of getting mentioned on a CV for that peculiar application (so they understand that you *do* indeed work, you just have something better and more interesting to pitch about you).
        Maybe mention then too, that people tend to misrepresent what your job consist and tend to focus on it instead of your actual skill, thus you choose to not mention it in the curriculum. You can subsequently jump on the topic on what you think you've done actually cool that people would misrepresent : mention the tech understanding the out-of-the-box hacking/fixing, etc. so the employer gets the point that you were not a "follow the script" drool-drone.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by liquidpele ( 663430 )
          Having a gap of more than 6 months on your resume where you were not working and not in school is regarded as a bad thing in the US. Some companies will simply trash your resume. Others will want explanations on the 1st interview and not call you back if your explanation was not to their liking.

          This is because the employers fear that it means you're not putting work/school history down because you were fired and don't want you to contact that place as a reference or that they failed out of the school t
        • by inKubus ( 199753 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @11:23PM (#25201081) Homepage Journal

          Yeah, why not just lie? If you really think they care to check out the references of some 30-40K a year beginner, you're fooling yourself. They don't give a shit. So, what they're really looking for is how well you sell yourself? Oh, you sat and answered phones doing tech support? "Developed solutions for clients." You had to fill out an end of shift report? "Documented solutions accurately" You came to work on time "Demonstrated reliability and punctuality".

          Now, forget the jobs, forget the education. Those are your smallest sections. Create a section called "skills" and list your skills (literally every piece of software/language/technique) you've touched and how many years you've done it. You've surfed the web? "HTTP" You've chatted before? "Realtime Communications" You've used MySpace "Content Management Systems" And since you are a "computer engineer" (which hopefully means 4 year degree and not some devry bullshit [in that case, leave it off entirely]).

          If you can't get a job with a computer engineering degree you must not

          A. Have a decent suit
          B. Know how to shave ALL the hairs off your face
          C. Take a shower
          D. Be personable at ALL.

          So, basically, you need to lie, list ALL your skills, and stop being such a jerk in the interview.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            "And since you are a "computer engineer" (which hopefully means 4 year degree and not some devry bullshit [in that case, leave it off entirely])."

            Hey fuck you, you insensitive clod! I went to DeVry. And since graduating in 1990, I've had a prolific career in IT. I continue to have companies and recruiters phoning or emailing me daily or weekly with job opportunities.

            Other than that, you've made excellent good points.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'll add to this. No doubt the people reading this who have worked/are working tech support will likely balk at what we are saying, but just like the original poster, they are on the other side of the bridge and are angry because they think they shouldn't be there.

      Fact of the matter is, this guy settled. Imagine someone who went to school and got a masters in some sort of engineering/drafting for bridges, but instead started his first job drawing caricatures at at a carnival. Imagine a PhD is psychology wh
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:59PM (#25198539)

        Sure. MAYBE these people CAN do what they went to school for, but taking such jobs right out of the gate tells me and others that you are incapable.

        It could also mean that the economy is shit and these were the only jobs they could find.

        • by Presto Vivace ( 882157 ) <> on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:23PM (#25198855) Homepage Journal
          It could also mean that the economy is shit and these were the only jobs they could find. Preach it brother. Maybe if companies hired more developers with tech support backgrounds we would better designed products.
        • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @07:01PM (#25199271)

          "It could also mean that the economy is shit and these were the only jobs they could find."

          It won't get better for some time, so consider what I did back in 1981. Join the military in a non-bullet-catcher specialty. The new Webb G.I. Bill is a FULL four-year ride to college with a monthly stipend, so you can wait out the failing economy while adding something employers respect to your resume, then get paid to go to school for another four years. With your degree, you can try for an officer slot and work less for much more money.

          • by OSXCPA ( 805476 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @07:24PM (#25199513) Journal

            Caeful on that, though - I'm a vet, and while there are lots of 'non bullet catcher' jobs, there are some caveats:

            The needs of the service come before EVERYTHING. Oh, you have a contract? Sue them. Good luck. If you are in the Air Force you might be able to get them to kick you out, but in the Marines (yeah, I know, if you wanted to join for the benefits, you wouldn't go there, I know...) they will put you literally anywhere, doing anything. Smart? Great - you get to go intelligence or public affairs. Not brilliant? Postal clerk, admin or cook - god knows where. Navy? Nice bet, nice culture (in my experience, I was Marines who spent a lot of time on ship) but I hope you really like travel.

            Finally, consider what you give up - you will be 'on duty' working EVERY DAY for your entire tour. You will be deployed. You will probably be in either the ass end of nowhere, or in a combat zone. Best you can hope for - a podunk base in the US with nothing but strip clubs, pawnshops, tattoo parlors and hookers, watching your fellow human beings act like asshats. No college? Guess what - you will be enlisted. That means you will be the closest thing to a serf you can be in the western world. You might get lucky and have good leadership, or you might have a bunch of ROTC and service academy grads with Napoleon complexes. God save you if you don't have good Staff NCOs - and you might not, especially if these SNCOs find out you just joined 'for the benefits'.

            I joined because I actually wanted to serve. After my tour was up, I got the f*ck out as fast as I could, and when my honorable discharge papers came in, I had my uniforms at the goodwill that day.

            Oh, and BTW - EVERY enlistment is 8+ years. Read the fine print on your contract - your 'active' time is the 2, 4 or 6 years, but that is just the ACTIVE duty time. The difference up to 8 years is 'inactive reserve'. They can call you up if there's a need and guess what there is right now - big need. And no, they don't just 'need' combat MOS. I knew public affairs people who were stop-lossed, and that was in 1992. Gotta have those 'reporters' and PR folk, y'know. Its critical to the war effort. Seriously, they have a Table of Organization, and if there's a slot, you will be on it, period. They don't care that you were going to college, getting married, or have just had enough. We used to say USMC stands for 'U Signed the Motherf*cking Contract' and it is true. Don't sign it unless you really want it - do yourself and your fellow potential servicemenbers a favor. No one likes serving with someone who isn't really motivated to be there.

            Sorry. Rant over. Good luck.

            • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @07:57PM (#25199761)

              Good caveats. I did 26 years in the Air Force, (which has been aptly called "college with a crew cut!) and I met MANY people there who bailed from all the other services (except Coast Guard!). Did the usual (Germany, Korea, 2-something years sandbox deployments, etc) and would do it again in a heartbeat. Aircraft maintenance was great techy fun (Avionics/Engines/Crew Chief on OV-10/F-4/F-16 A/B/C/D).

              Retiring debt-free before age 50 is nice too. I'll be doing the "professional student" thing for a few years (after Aug.'09 when my VEAP-victim self is eligible). Lots of my friends went with related careers after retirement (tech rep, AMT, Lockheed mod team) and are doing nicely. I don't have to work (yay for retiring where it's cheap) so I'll go to school for fun.

      • by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:01PM (#25198569)
        He took the job while stil working on his degree, not after. He's been unable to find a job in his field after receiving his degree.
      • by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:01PM (#25198575)

        Sure. MAYBE these people CAN do what they went to school for, but taking such jobs right out of the gate tells me and others that you are incapable.

        The sad thing is that a lot of employers also hold this prejudice. Honest people and intelligent people aren't willing to sell themselves with fake resumes, nor can many people who get out of school with massive student loans afford to wait around for an ideal job offer when there are bills to be paid.

        I've always found that people often blame the misfortunes of others on personal attributes, and in their hypocrisy they blame their own misfortunes on other people. It's shameful.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nebular ( 76369 )

        It's unfortunate that you would think that taking this kind of job right out of the gate is bad. Really sometimes it's the only option. Call centres especially incoming call centres like tech support pay higher per hour than most places in the city they are located in, and anyone with higher than average computer skills can easily get a job.

        For someone who just got out of school and now has a TON of bills that they need to pay and need to pay now, a tech support job can be landed quick and easily and it pay

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:11PM (#25198699) Homepage Journal

        Actually I think every developer should do a year or two in end user technical support.
        All too often there is a disconnect between those that design and code software and the end user.
        If this person worked their way though school doing tech support than that is great.

        • by lennier ( 44736 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @10:09PM (#25200671) Homepage

          "Actually I think every developer should do a year or two in end user technical support.
          All too often there is a disconnect between those that design and code software and the end user"

          YES! PLEASE.

          I work in tech support, and the bane of my life is application developers who think they're God's gift to the Turing machine and yet don't have the first clue as to how their precious little world-saving application is going to 1) share data with other systems, 2) be packaged and deployed and patched on real-world environments, and 3) be tested, debugged and trouble-shooted by the *users*.

          Most application developers seem to have the unconscious assumption that *their* program is the only one that exists in the whole wide universe, that *its* data store is the only data worth considering, and that they, the developers, are the only people who are ever going to need to understand how their program works and test it. Because *of course* it's never going to have any bugs after it's shipped, that's quite unthinkable. And if there are, why, you'll be happy to erase all your data and reinstall from scratch, including Random OS Support Library Foobar version 42.3.1415, precisely, which will never conflict with any other installed version. Because you're just 'a user', and all you get is a black box that either works or breaks mysteriously.

          Except tech support people are a programmer's worst nightmare: users who can think, and who need to get at the guts of your software to make it actually *work*.

          A programmer who sneers at tech support people is a programmer who quite simply HAS NO CLUE as to how software is used in the real world and the wider context of what they're doing. And that kind of programmer has no business writing software at all.

          Programmer arrogance is a huge part of the software quality crisis.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rnelsonee ( 98732 )

        You say that not knowing his specifics or how hard it was to get a job. I started out in Fire Protection Engineering; you know what my first job was? I installed sprinkler systems. I knew I wanted to get into fire protection, so I got a job at one of the only fire protection companies around. They didn't need any engineers (I was just out of high school by the way, and yet to start college, but that just makes me more similar to this guy - he said he got the job before the degree), but they needed field w

    • Two years doing that - looks like they just can't find a better job. If they didn't find another job elsewhere and they didn't get promoted in their absolutely low level job...well, it doesn't scream 'talent', does it?

      As somebody who has done phone (tech) support before I can tell you that companies (i.e. Management) will rarely promote people who are not incompetent. This isn't only my opinion, as I've heard it from others here on Slashdot as well who worked in similar roles.

      As for working with scripts it all depends on the company. Microsoft for example is soft on scripts and heavy on having the employee actually try to help the customer. There are many companies like this. The sad fact is that a lot of people who get

    • To be fair, though (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:12PM (#25198707) Journal

      To be fair, though, why should it matter?

      1. Most important of all, you can give the guy a test, you know? _If_ he spews the usual stuff that spells "idiot monkey who couldn't even understand that list right" -- like that rebooting solves most problems, and activating FSAA is a fix for graphics problems (hey, rendering glitches are called artefacts too, and FSAA solves rendering artefacts. Genuine piece of "advice" I've heard.) -- then, by all means, don't hire him. But _if_ he happens to know his stuff, why does it matter what job he had before?

      Especially because...

      2. In that race to scrape the bottom of the proverbial barrel to save costs, since at least the 90's I've seen less qualified people in all sorts of IT and programming jobs. Some places will not only hire a summmarily retrained burger flipper if he asks for less money, they'll _prefer_ one.

      So, you know, wtf? They'd hire someone who worked at McDonalds and lied about having taken a "Java for dummies" course, but they won't even listen to someone who's worked in tech suppport? Something seems amiss there.

      3. Don't get me wrong. Yes, probably 90% of the L1 tech support guys are just the cheapest monkeys who can use a phone and read a list. Badly. I'm not saying all are smart and competent, or anything equally silly. But I'm saying there is a variation in competence in any job, ya know? The trouble is the other 10% who just happened to need a job and nothing else was available. E.g., if said person was still in college, I don't see that awfully many other jobs who overlap well with that. You're not really going to take a game dev job and pull 80 hour weeks, for example, when you _also_ have to learn at the same time.

      Heck, even as job descriptions go, it varies substantially between companies. You can't paint them all with the same brush. E.g., as ISP tech support goes, I've seen mine go recently from abysmal to guys who can actually solve simple problems without going through that canned list. I know, it's the first sign of the Apocalypse ;)

      Even getting a promotion isn't necessarily a given, if all you have is two years. A _lot_ of support and generally IT jobs have been offshored in the last years, so in some places you'd be just happy to keep your job for two years. Because everything above you is also getting reduced faster than normal attrition. Plus, there's just plain old statistical flukes. I've worked (as a programmer) for a small company where the tech support guys just had no path to advance any higher, for example. The only job above L1 support were us the programmers, and as statistical flukes happen with small numbers of people, past a point no more programmers were hired, no more managers were needed either to promote some, and nobody quit for some 3 years at a point.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tyrione ( 134248 )

      Back in the days when Tech Support was real support--ObjectLine Support at NeXT Software Inc, we sure as hell didn't follow a script. You followed your knowledge of NeXTSTEP, Dev Tools and the dedicated second tier of accounts owned by dedicated Dev Engineers and then the third tier of Engineering proper, based upon the area of QA that needs cross-referencing.

      It was a Professional Services<-->Engineering Department synergy that was often combative when business requirements came into the mix, but it

  • by iamhigh ( 1252742 ) * on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:30PM (#25198209)

    In fact, a few have even told me that they decided against hiring me simply because I've worked in tech support at a call center for the last two years.

    Are you a good tech? If so, why haven't you been promoted? Or at least assigned to head tech or second level support?

    No offense, but when I did the same thing as you I was in "Team Leader" training in 3 months. All call centers I have worked at (only 2) and most that I have heard of, have enough turn over that by 2 years, a "Computer Engineer" should be moving up the ranks.

    I think part of the Peter Principle talks about how lower level or entry level jobs are usually done well by those that wouldn't do well in management or more difficult jobs. Also, perhaps you are not a good tech, but a great developer. This all might be working against you, to no real fault of your own.

    Perhaps take a part time job as a developer... advertise that you are willing to work part-time for no benefits and that you know some modern languages; that you are willing to work the night shift doing testing; that you will work for $int_cheap_labor per hour - something to get your foot in the door and working wth professionals.

    I do have a hard time believing that just becuase you work in tech support in a call center, you aren't getting jobs. There must be a little more to it. Try to advance in your current postion, or broaden your *professional work* experience (not personal projects).

    • I agree. Two years in at first-level is not a good sign. I do not consider myself to be horribly knowledgeable about PCs, either. I came into this new company not even two years ago. Once I finished my training I was thrown into business accounts and then into second-level. Most of the people at my office who don't go past the first-level after a certain amount of time don't stick around or never break out of it.
      • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:45PM (#25198381)

        It is possible that he also works for a piss poor company. Some shops will keep him in that position forever if
        he lets them. Much easier to do nothing than promote him and have to train someone else who will likely turnover quickly. If he
        leaves then they still have to train someone but nothing lost to the company.

        • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:59PM (#25198537) Homepage Journal

          Sure, that's possible. But then how do you explain this supposed "support taint" on his resume? Which I too find hard to believe. During the downturn a few years back, I did that kind of work to make ends meet. I don't recall it hurting my prospects. On the contrary, a customer-facing job gave me a little breadth of experience I'd lacked before.

          I think there are other issues here the guy's not acknowledging. Which is often the case when somebody's having trouble finding work.

    • I don't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:57PM (#25198511) Homepage Journal

      I do have a hard time believing that just becuase you work in tech support in a call center, you aren't getting jobs.

      I've experienced a similar stigma working with Big Iron: "Oh, you're a mainframe programmer? Well, we don't do much of that anymore, most of our stuff is object-oriented..." Nevermind the fact that I've been doing C++ for more than a decade. I experienced a similar stigma when I got into embedded development. My degree says computer science, not IBM mainframes.

      Some people just can't wrap their head around the fact that you aren't tech support. Personally, I would not put anything on my resume that wasn't career related. The fact that you have tech support on your resume probably makes them think that you think it has something to do with the position offered. They don't need to know you worked as a tech support - sure, you might have to put it on the application, but it should stay off the resume.

      The next time it happens, you might want to end the conversation like this:

      Them: Well, we're interested in hiring an engineer... Not so much tech support...
      You: Have you ever worked in fast food? I thought so! I'm not interested in working for a burger flipper, either...

      Believe it or not, I've said worse to an interviewer...

    • by nebular ( 76369 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:42PM (#25199093)

      That also depends on the call centre

      I worked tech support for Apple, I was front line on the phone, I did that for 2 years.

      There was no real advancment for a technical person. The reason? Outsourcing. I worked, not for Apple, but for Minacs Inc. Mincas is not a computer company, they are a call centre company. So the promotion line was up to team leader and manager positions, which are just classic non-tech manager jobs: employee evaluations, quota targets, avg phone times, etc... Anyone with a degree in anything technical or scientific would be going in the wrong direction there. You could maybe get a job with the IT dept, if they were ever hireing and then you'd have to get them to hire someone off the call floor.
      since we weren't Apple, we didn't have every dept. Tier 2 was in California, in fact we only had front line agents, so the only place I could got was to a management position that was usually filled with people who spent more of their day manipulating the call tracking system to make them look better on paper than the people who actually did their jobs well. Yeah the people who just hang up on you are the ones who are put in charge.

      The jobs are good money for when you need it. But it can be hard to get out of it when it can take months to find a job in your actual field and sometimes a promotion at a particular company isn't actually beneficial.

    • by javabandit ( 464204 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:51PM (#25199175)

      If I had mod points, I'd mod this up as insightful.

      The OP is either the unluckiest guy in the world, or is being rejected for very legitimate reasons.

      The OP should take a very close look at himself. I would recommend the following:

      1) Ask friends or acquaintances -- who are software developers -- to give you a mock interview. After that, have them give you an objective appraisal.

      2) Go get certified in something to do with software development. Computer engineering has little overlap with software engineering. Taking a certification is going to give you a clue as to what you are missing. Plus, it will give your resume a (little) boost.

      Going from technical support into R&D is a tough move. But you need to get the advice and direction from people in the business that you trust.

      Remember, if you want a different result, then do something different. Seek counsel and advice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:33PM (#25198241)

    Maybe you need a dry run with an interview expert to evaluate/grade your performance.

    Its very possible you are committing one or more "interview success killers" and don't even know it. It may have nothing to do with your resume.

    • by lantastik ( 877247 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:48PM (#25198417)

      I was going to say the same thing. You suck at interviewing. I look at a lot of resumes and interview a lot of candidates - I am one of the technical gateways to getting hired.

      I look at most resumes for an average of a minute. I am mostly looking for past experience to ask you about and to quiz you on skills you say you have. If I pass on you it's because you sucked in the interview, not because of anything that was on your resume.

      Here are some things to ask yourself:
      - Am I dressed and groomed appropriately?
      - How is my hygiene?
      - Am I well spoken and can I communicate clearly and effectively?
      - Have I thought about real answers to the typical questions and not just canned responses (i.e. strengths, weaknesses, greatest accomplishment, long-term goals, examples of working in a team, etc.)? You need to have well thought-out responses to these questions that apply to you.
      - During tech interviews, can I provide real world examples or am I spitting out algorithms and examples from text books?

      Practice your interviewing skills.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I would have to agree here. You said you often get to the first interview, but after that they drop you from the applicant pool. The fact that they're willing to interview you at all shows that they are at least intrigued by what you have on your resume.

      Either you're lying on your paper application by saying you have skills and experiences that you don't have, or you're just not selling yourself in the interview. Take the above advice and go through some dry run interviews at some kind of career develo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Acius ( 828840 )

      Yes! I've done a little bit of interviewing for technical positions. If you're interviewing with me at all, then your resume was definitely good enough for me to be spending time on you. I don't think your resume is the problem.

      When I'm interviewing, it's really important to me that I feel like I can stand being around you for a large percentage of my week. That means you MUST be able to express yourself, have good personal hygiene, and be amazingly intelligent.

      You don't have to be my best buddy, and I'm go

    • Also, when you do a job interview, please, for everything that's sacred to you, do NOT - repeat, DO NOT - put in your resume your "" e-mail address !

      (A friend of a friend learned the hard way)

  • The best solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by microcentillion ( 942039 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:34PM (#25198251)
    In my experience, the best solution is to leave it out. If your experience is limited to JUST call-center work, list every responsibility you had while leaving out the fact that it was tech support. If you can dance around it well enough (And the company name doesn't give it away), you get all the benefits without any of the drawbacks. Short Version: Lie.
    • by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:37PM (#25198289)

      Bingo! Remember, you are not required to list every single thing on your resume. For most people an empty two years would be a suspicious hole, but for a recent graduate they wouldn't expect constant working in addition to your school. If they ask you about it, tell them the truth: you worked tech support to make money for school but you didn't put it on your resume because you don't feel it's relevant to your experience for this job.

  • experience from tech support is actually a good thing and not a sign of incompetence.

    For some reason that unfortunate perception just keeps being spread by the people who use tech support.

  • by TheGrapeApe ( 833505 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:37PM (#25198285)
    I started out working TS, too (I am currently a developer)...and companies offering most of the positions I was applying for understood that a couple years of experience in TS was a great boon because at the end of the day no matter how good you are as a developer, your software has to get used by people; people that get frustrated, people that have certain patterns of doing things that aren't the same as engineers - and a lot of engineers just don't understand that until they have to deal with those people day in and day out.

    I am nearing the point in my career where I will have to start *hiring* coders, and one of the first things I am going to look for is a background in bridging the gap between "software systems" and "people" ... i.e. Tech Support.

    If the positions you are applying to don't seem to get that then I can only offer 2 thoughts:
    1. They don't understand software development that well, so you should probably not work for them.
    2. *Explain* what I just said above in your interview.
  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:37PM (#25198287)
    If you're working in 1st line then you are not using your degree, or any of the skills you picked up during the course. That means that you're essentially the same as one of this-year's graduates, except that you'll have had 2 years to forget stuff and won't have been taught the current stuff that this year's grads. have.

    Really, your career is now in tech. support and given the usual turnover in support staff, 2 years is a long time to be on the bottom rung (please don't take this as an offense, it's just an observation). It does show that for whatever reason, you haven't progressed in your current employment.

    If you're looking for a career change (from what you're doing now) then the good news is that your CV is "marketable" as you're getting interviews, the problem must be what the interviewer sees when you're in the interview. Sounds like it's time for a makeover before you become institutionalised.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I agree with the parent, the fact you got some interview means people are paying attention to what is on your resume and willing to spend the time seeing if you are more than your resume. Perhaps there's something about the interview itself you can work on. There's plenty of articles out there about how to be good on an interview, its mostly just normal public speaking tips though: good eye contact, clear voice, ability to answer the questions with a decent answer even when you have to admit you don't kno
    • by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:41PM (#25199081)

      That means that you're essentially the same as one of this-year's graduates, except that you'll have had 2 years to forget stuff and won't have been taught the current stuff that this year's grads.

      What current stuff? Have data structures changed much in the decade since I graduated? (no) Have databases changed at all? (not appreciably). The only difference is that some stuff is now java and not c++. Whoopty frigging do.

  • Are you still first line tech support? I've worked with a lot of low level tech support folks and most of them were absolute idiots. If you haven't advanced in 2 years, it's kind of a red flag. At this point, most employers are going to be looking for something to show that you've got a strong upside. They either want someone who's involved in either programming duties of some sort or where they've got the keys to the kingdom. If you don't have admin level access it says that your current employer thin
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:41PM (#25198333) Journal
    People have usually decided whether they're going to hire you after the first couple of minutes. They often don't really know the reason for rejecting other than "a feeling", but still feel the need to justify their decision.

    Work on interview technique.
  • by JeanBaptiste ( 537955 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:41PM (#25198335)

    I was a developer for 10 years then decided to get a new job. I got lots of rejection before I landed a new position. I think that's just the way it goes. I probably got rejected 20-30 times. If they didn't call back, oh well. I had plenty of interviews that seemed to go just fine, then never got called back. It could be the economy, there's probably lots of qualified candidates looking for work. Just keep trying, make getting a job your full time job, and you'll have one before you know it. The current one I have was landed through a headhunter, I'm making twice what I was previously with a far better working environment. Don't get discouraged, I think lots of rejection is par for the course.

  • Delete it. Say that you graduated and then got to a two-years sabbatical for living the wild life till you settled down and started working like a beast for the rest of your life. That will thrill them. Other stories are also possible, you can use your inventiveness, that same inventiveness that got you to the first Slashdot page.

    • Your resume is supposed to get you a job. You aren't supposed to lie on it, but there's no law that says you have include items that don't serve your interests. If someone asks what you've been doing, just tell them it was a stop-loss job while you looked for work.

  • by scribblej ( 195445 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:43PM (#25198363)

    Personally, I wouldn't hire you either - you have no experience.

    "How can I get experience if no one will hire me?"

    Well, you have an /excellent/ choice of career paths in computers, because you don't need a benevolent company to hire you in order to get experience. In fact, in my own hiring, it's the experience that happens /outside/ of a "job" that makes the most difference. If you really want to succeed, do something. If you are trying to be a programmer, write that project you've been wanting to do; don't wait. Once you have it written, that goes on your resume. I wrote a /HORRIBLE/ stupid graphing calculator for Windows CE and started selling it, and that is absolutely what got me hired as a coder. Don't have the werewithal to make a whole project? Contribute to existing open-source packages, and reap the same benefits.

    Or maybe you're looking to become a network engineer instead of a programmer. Set up your own virtual cluster of machines running under KVM, make it do fun things, show off your ability to create a secure environment, and put it on your resume as experience. Even better, when they ask you about it, you can offer them a copy of the entire setup on a DVD, with all the virtual machines...

    Either one of those scenarios would get you hired by me, regardless of the rest of your resume -- not only does it show definitively you can do what you want to do... far more important is the fact that it demonstrates you love doing this stuff; you love it enough to do it on your own. That is key.

    You're lucky - you've got a field where the cost of doing it "in your garage" is absolutely minimal.

    Call center experience /is/ good experience, in my personal opinion. I had early jobs at call centers. I still value that experience as a developer, because it helps me remember that people are idiots who will mess things up if you give them the slightest opportunity. This is critical to keep in mind when developing anything. But it's no substitute for actual experience in programming. I think you can sell your experience in call centers to someone who will hire you to do other things, but you'd best have some additional selling points, because while that experience has some value, it's not a hiring-value.

    • by scribblej ( 195445 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:50PM (#25198449)

      Let me add something, since the OP did mention his personal projects.

      It's possible you just suck. Yes, your projects may compile and run, and do what you want, and your experience in school may have left you feeling like the head of your class. It's still possible to be bad at what you do.

      That's not saying you are inevitably going to be a shitty programmer your whole life. Really, really being good at what you are doing takes a lot of effort.

      Anecdotally, my first real programming job interview was with Jellyvision, who were making the (at the time) totally popular game "You Don't Know Jack." I had a long interview with their hiring people and they loved me. I came back the next day and spent all day interviewing with their programmers and design teams and hanging out at the office, which was pretty nice. They all thought I was great. Then I came back in for a third day; the third day I was to bring in a CD of my own code, explain it all, and participate in a code review of what I'd written. They never talked to me again after that, and I know why -- my code SUCKED. I mean, really, really bad. I found some of it on an old disk a year ago and was /horrified./

      I'm better now. I'm not great, but I'm way better.

  • Almost everything here is about attitude. Turn the "curse" into an advantage.

    Don't say:"I've had a crap job for the last 2 years doing tech support and now I want a real job."

    Instead, say:"For the last two years I've been doing support and really getting to understand how **real** people interact with software. It sure has been an eye opener and I've learnt a lot about how to think about effective user interface design than I ever did reading books or in that 6 month college course...." Now that is somethin

  • Yer Doin' it Wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ibmjones ( 52133 )

    Find a tech support in the company that you want to work for, THEN when the engineering position in that company opens up, apply for it.

    That way, you already have your foot in the door, plus you will already be familiar with the business processes in place, so that gives you an advantage over outsiders trying to get the job.

  • Who do you know? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by neurovish ( 315867 )

    In your case, your resume and your degree are not going to get you a job, especially if it has been 2 years. If you're more than 6 months out of school, most places consider you an "experienced professional". As far as I can tell, the only way to overcome lack of experience fresh out of school if you don't know anybody is to have a 4.0 GPA.

    I'm coming up on 6 years since I graduated with a computer engineering degree, and I'm still working as a systems administrator. The closest thing to CpE I see are cra

  • Personal Connections (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:46PM (#25198389)

    That's what it is all about. I know this isn't addressing specifically what you asked, but it does address how to get a job. The answer is the post topic.

    While people can and do get jobs cold, you find far more get it through some kind of in. You know someone at a company, or someone who knows someone. A personal introduction goes a hell of a long way.

    So what you really need to be doing is shaking down all your contacts. Talk to your friends, family, people you've worked with, professors, etc. See if they know anyone in the industry you want to work in. Have them introduce you, then see if maybe they know of a group that'd like to hire you.

    You may even find a job springs up where there wasn't one before. Someone says "Well we aren't looking right now, but you know, I think you'd work well in this group so let me talk to them." They might not be actively looking, but if introduced to someone good, they decide to hire that person.

  • It's not that you have Tech Support on your resume, it's that you don't have any sort of developer position on your resume. According to some of the recruiters I've talked to, at least in my market developers must have 3 years of experience to be considered seriously for a junior-level position because statistically most developers make their biggest mistakes in their first 3 years (myself included). Since all employers try to avoid being the victim of those sorts of mistakes, entry level developers have a

  • I feel your pain... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SylvesterTheCat ( 321686 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:48PM (#25198415)

    ...and, unfortunately, I have no useful advice to offer.

    I worked tech support at a (then) Fortune 100 pc "assembler" and seller, including as a member of their corporate tech support group. After I took a job on the company's web team, I was laid off, went back to school full time and got a master's in comp sci.

    I tried to find a job developing embedded systems, preferably in defense industry. I had / have a security clearance, decent grades, significant work experience... and finally after 18 months, one offer from a small company which I quickly took. Nine months later, they laid off 40% of their engineering department...

    I never had anybody figuratively "turn up their nose" at my tech support experience. I think they just looked at it as non-specific work experience, i.e. "could hold a job for extended period of time without getting fired."

    Since then, I've found very well paying work that is still in the IT industry, but really isn't what I had hoped to find.

    Now I am in my early 40s and prospects of finding the kind of work I was interested in (and still am) are quickly fading.

    I am trying to find satisfaction for my itch in personal projects.

    I don't know what it is, but there must be something that I have been lacking or failed to show / demonstrate in interviews.

    For what it is worth, I wish you well in your search.

  • A few pointers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dominican ( 67865 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:49PM (#25198423)

    If you are getting interviews then the problem is not with the resume, but with the interview.

    You may want to check with the school you went to if they have anyone that could help you.

    Failing that, you may be able to find resources online with key points to remember on an interview.

    Also, many companies do tend to think that anyone that is in tech support for 2 years is because they could not do better, so you may want to look for a small company to work for while you can add some other tittle to the resume.

    Specially think of a small ISP, or one where they may let you do other projects in addition to tech support.

    In general small companies will have you involved with much more than tech support, even if that is what you are hired for. Larger companies tend to be more specialized so if you get hired for position X, it is little harder to move.

    Any small company will, but there may not be as much technology beyond support for you to do. With an ISP there is a higher chance of you getting non tech support tasks.. even on the smallest of ISPs.

  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:49PM (#25198425) Journal
    I can't find a job because I have no experience. That is pretty bad when you first leave college, but after several years companies feel you're unemployable because no one hired you. My only hope for making any income is to create my own profitable software projects.
    • If you weren't being hired then what DID you do? Well? If you need experience then you need experience not money. Go work on some open source project, volunteer for some non-profit, find some somewhat related company (then try to wiggle yourself into the proper department/make connections), go to local software events to make connections, meet people who may work in the field, work on your own projects to improve your skills and so on. Of course you should have been doing all of this in college or simply be

  • by guru zim ( 706204 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:49PM (#25198429)
    If I had to guess, I would say that:

    1) You smoke. People who work in tech support smoke.
    2) Do you drink and / or drug? My experience with TS folks is that they tend to have a higher rate of both than the norm. Do you happen to fit any stereotypes of either of these? I have long hair for example - people assume I'm a pot smoking hippie.
    3) You probably spoke negatively of your current employer. This is because TS sucks. However, this is a huge warning sign for employers.
    4) You probably think you are above your current job, and it comes out in the interview process. People don't like people who are like this.

    If I am totally off the mark, my apologies. If even one of these sound like you, then you may want to think about what you can do about it.

    PS> Being a smoker isn't ever going to be the stated reason you didn't get a job. I don't think it can be, officially. Still, it's the same as showing up wearing too much cologne - people take their sense of smell seriously. Smokers generally don't smell good (too much smoke, overcompensating mint, etc) and it does hurt their odds of success. It's not something I would consider in an interview but I've watched it happen to smart people who should have been moving ahead.
  • by repetty ( 260322 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:50PM (#25198441) Homepage

    This problem is not about technical qualifications. In fact, you see this sort of thing in food service, sports, journalism (real journalism, not blogs), photography, building construction... you name it.

    You are pretty much screwed. You've been had cheap and people's perceptions are so, so hard to change.

    Prospective employers only want you for what you have done and aren't interested in anything else.

    I recommend that you omit your employment history from your job applications and resumes. Explain that your parent's financed your education and provided your food and housing. You never had to work.

    We're not talking about too much time, here.

  • I had this particular problem at the place that I work when I was a manager, but in reverse.

    I'd love to have been able to get qualified staff to answer user problems and questions but, because of the stigma attached to working at a support desk, we had tremendous difficulty. We've worked hard at promoting people from the helpdesk to higher positions - with some success - but weren't able to get really qualified staff because even moderately qualified people looked upon helpdesk as a dead end and wouldn't e
  • by mustafap ( 452510 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:51PM (#25198453) Homepage

    Pretend that you've been in prison for 2 years. That's far less embarrassing.

  • You don't describe the type of tech support you are doing. Some TS jobs are simple and mindless while some require very technical aptitude. I'm assuming your experience is more of the former.

    Look for a tech support job that is business-oriented with a company that is the originator of the software that is being supported. The software should have its own API. Learn the ins and out of that API. Wow the customers who need help with the API.

    My advice is entirely based on personal experience. It happened to

  • two issues (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eil ( 82413 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:54PM (#25198489) Homepage Journal

    There are two solutions:

    1. Leave the helpdesk job off your resume. If they ask why the gap, make something up.

    2. So you've been working two years in helpdesk without being offered a promotion? Either the company's promotion process is broken or you are. Where I work, everybody starts out at helpdesk, no matter what position they are applying for. Even if it's just for a week or two, you start out answering phones and move up from there. Some people do, some don't, some actually like helpdesk.

  • by Weasel Boy ( 13855 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:57PM (#25198519) Journal

    After several years as a developer, I found a job in tech support. Now, years later, I still love it. This is not your typical call center stuff: my customers are engineers. I am respected, the pay is good, the customers are fun, and the challenges change frequently. Many tech support engineers use their position to get their foot in the door and skill up and move on to development, but I'm pretty happy in support.

  • by capsteve ( 4595 ) * on Monday September 29, 2008 @06:08PM (#25198653) Homepage Journal
    eventually you will get the job that you were striving for.

    - you'll have more responsibilities...
    - work long and late hours...
    - get paid less than you expected ('cause you're - gonna get a position that will somehow won't qualify for overtime)...
    - spend sleepless nights worrying about some system or code that's been kicking you ass...

    and you'll wistfully remember those carefree days shortly after graduation when you had a carefree job that you could leave at the office. all joking aside, you'll find another job with a better opportunity for advancement and better pay. what are you, 22-24? give it another year or two before you panick... you have a scant amount of experience, and in these economically tough times, it's likely that even though an employer says "recent graduates" they have a really high expectation that can only be filled by someone with more experience.

    get to know people within the field/market you want to work in... show the person you want to work for that you have a pair of stones and you have the talent to back it up! go to trade shows and press the flesh, email prospective employers and ask if they have an opportunity for you, canvas your friends and family, church, coffeehouse, etc.

    did you every take a job hunting/resume writing/interviewing class in college? they used to have these life lesson classes in high school, and i'm sure they have them in colleges as well... IMHO you might need coaching in life skills:
    - learn to start and hold conversations with strangers
    - learn to speak without using "umms", "aahs" and "you knows"
    - learn to read body language
    - learn how to take an interview
    and quit complaining on slashdot about your career shortcomings, man up and figure it out!

  • I'm here to help (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trojan35 ( 910785 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @07:44PM (#25199667)

    Honestly, I hate to be mean but you need to know the truth. If you're getting any kind of interview, the problem isn't your resume it's your interview skills. You wouldn't get an interview if they weren't ok with the tech support background.

    The resume gets you in the door, the interview skills get you the job.

    • Re:I'm here to help (Score:5, Informative)

      by mschuyler ( 197441 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @08:18PM (#25199909) Homepage Journal

      Mod parent up. This is absolutely true. If you are getting an interview, you are past the first and biggest hurdle in getting a job. The first task of any hiring manager is to go through and, one way or another, grade the resumes into two piles: "Unqualified" and "Qualified on paper." They may automate this or not--doesn't matter. If you get an interview, there is nothing on your resume that repulses them, including your work history, which is already apparent to them before they call you in. They would not take the considerable time to call you in if they didn't think you were otherwise qualified.

      So that leaves you. Coupla suggestions:

      1) Go to an employment counselor or even a friend and set up a fake interview. Tape yourself. Grimace and look at the results. If you have a habit of picking your nose when you're nervous, might not even know.

      2) Learn more about the company then the interviewer knows. "I see this company has enjoyed a 30% growth rate over the last few years. If this keeps up you'll be the biggest company in the world in ten years. Since that can't happen, what are your plans? How will you stay focused?"

      3) You've been to interviews. You know the questions. Develop some cracker jack answers. Where do you see yourself in five years? You KNOW they'll ask that. "What is your greatest weakness? strength?"

      Anyway, good luck. It's tough.

  • by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @08:39PM (#25200099) Homepage Journal

    "First line technical support". Have you ever called first line technical support? The most common impression of FLTS is they can't manage walking and chewing gum at the same time. I know that's unfair because in almost every case FLTS must follow scripts written more with a view of "idiot customers AND idiot tech" than just "idiot customer" rather than "There's a real problem here that needs to be solved".

    First step is to get out of first tier support. Or support entirely, which is what you're trying to do.

    There are local charitiable organisations that need tech help and can't afford it. Like your food bank, shelter, red cross, hell, even the BBB, NPR, PBS, or Red Cross. Go to them and offer to help with tech issues. They likely don't know squat about tech, but if you are even half way effective, they'll write a glowing recommendation because you bailed them out of trobles they couldn't solve themselves. You help not just yourself, but others that are in dire straits. For nothing else, that's worthy right there.

    Example: I wrote a customer master module to be used in accounting for customers, vendors, shippers, anywhere it was needed to tie a company/person/vendor/whathave you with multiple addresses, purchase orders, sales orders, trouble tickets, history (careful to not over normalize so as to update historical records with current info) blah blah blah. End result, I used this exact module over and over and over again for pledge drives, charity auctions, setting port-a-pottys, vending machines, you name it.

    I know a gal that started out as first line tech support. Climbed to managing the help desk, from there, went to web master, and is now a director of IT somewhere else. All in four years. And she's good... really good.

    It can be done. If someone wants to type cast you, it's because you let them do it and don't show them why they are wrong... or they are simply grossly stupid and unobservant. In the fist case, you've only yourself to blame, in the second, better you don't work there anyway.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @12:17AM (#25201369) Homepage

    I've had several employers tell me to my face, and in rejection letters, that my 'professional background' isn't what they're looking for

    Given that your professional background consists of working in a call center, and that you probably aren't applying for call center positions... I mean, you can't see the mismatch here?

    In fact, a few have even told me that they decided against hiring me simply because I've worked in tech support at a call center for the last two years.

    Unless I were facing an extreme shortage of applicants... I'd agree with them.

    For some reason it seems a lot of employers will completely overlook my degree in computer engineering, the fact that I can show them several personal projects that I've worked on, and that I can show them that I clearly possess the skills they are looking for.

    But what you can't show them is any experience, nor can you show them any initiative - having simply stuck with the same very low level job.

  • First interview (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @01:28AM (#25201751) Homepage

    If you made it to the first interview then your background (in tech support) isn't the problem. The interviewer's time is worth too much to spend it interviewing the dozens of applicants whose background indicated a problem.

    No, the problem is you. Either your presentation is poor (did you dress in a suit? conservative tie? do you smell? have open pustules? how long is your hair?), your mad computer engineering skillz don't add up to what you think they do OR (and this last one is very common) you didn't exhibit a can-do attitude.

    Did you disdain your tech support background? It may be that the company is looking for a junior developer to interface with an upscale client, help with the testing, implement a little of the the easy stuff but mostly translate requirements for the senior devs. If you truly have the skills, that's as good a bridge as any. Better really: a cross-disciplinary role puts you in a controlling position, where your talent (if you have it) will shine.

    The worst person I've ever interviewed explained that in a systems administration role there should never be a reason why he'd be expected to stay after 5 pm. The second worst explained that he was no stranger to keeping a cot in his office to deal with routinely long hours. The former indicated a bad attitude combined with poor judgment: an unrealistic assessment of a system administrator's job. The latter indicated a fellow who worked harder when I wanted someone to work smarter... a quality sysadmin prevents more fires than he fights. If you're fighting enough fires to need a cot in your office, you're not up to the task.

    My favorite line in an interview is: "Point me at the problem that's giving you the most grief. I have a broad range of expertise and I'm ready to put it to use where it will best benefit you."

    Yes, there is some reluctance to hire folks outside of their background. I recently made the transition from the systems administration track to software development track, so I've experienced it. Nevertheless, the only interview that didn't generate a job offer was one where the company specifically did not want a software developer.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @05:49AM (#25202581) Homepage

    I've run into this time and time again. I've been mostly-unemployed (I'm told I should call this "self employed" or such) for the past year due to similar "shortcomings" which were either outside my ability to control (company layoffs shortly after starting) or, as you describe, resulting in a negative stigma.

    My experience/training is more in IT than EE type work, but I've still not managed to escape the stigma. A friend, an animator, who has had a much more tumultuous employment history, with many more gaps, but has no problem picking up a new job whenever he wants one (and while he's talented, he's not a complete cut above the rest).

    These are a couple guesses as to why this is happening to the both of us (and apparently many others):

    1) Companies are very, very picky about hiring anyone for "computer related" jobs. The only thing I can figure is that HR types have been taught that IT/CS/EE = diploma mill hacks and shysters.
    2) There really is a glut of IT/CS/EE graduates out there, for what the market can provide. Maybe, maybe not - but it seems to me that there are a lot of "entry level" IT/CS jobs which end up going to people with a fair amount of experience. I certainly think there are a lot fewer jobs out there right now than graduates, at least based on what I've heard from recruiters/etc.
    3) HR types might just not know what they're looking at, or what they're looking for, when they look for technical people. They might prefer hiring someone with a more traditional degree who they think can "cut it".
    4) Indian H1B workers. Who knows?

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @08:41AM (#25203347)

    I hope you don't mind if I added you to my growing listing of recent graduates who can not find a job. You are the second person I have added just today. The dice discussion boards are filled with people in the same situation, here is a brief listing: []

    Can you believe that corporate CEOs has the gall to sit before congress and claim that there are sever shortages of US IT workers? The pop-media is flooded with articles about how IT jobs are recession proof, and the US IT field is red hot and growing faster than ever.

    Would should employers hire US IT workers, when offshore labor is cheaper? Both candidates are strong supporters of allowing more guest workers.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger