When I moved to Florida, there were interviews for jobs that I failed miserably. The first one doomed me. Having worked in a Java environment that didn’t have the latest and greatest techniques, or the use of JavaScript for four years, I had a hard time adapting to the newer paradigm. This was my fault – being a software developer means constantly learning new tools and instead of working under talented mentors, I worked many times alone. When it came time to work as a team, I didn’t feel comfortable. At the first interview, the questions were harder than I was prepared for and in failing the first interview, I started to doubt myself; it spiraled downward from there.

When doubt set in, money got tighter, and I didn’t know what to do next, so depression set in. I took a series of courses through the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota Workforce Services, including PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, Website Design, Getting published, Photoshop, and Creating Mobile Apps. I studied Graphic Design and Swift iOS App Development. I created a custom WordPress Theme for my Christian Blog and created this Website. A PHP/MySQL website was built for my community’s Wii Bowling League, and I created a one-page website for a bookkeeper friend of mine to advertise her services.

Keeping busy and doing these projects for myself hasn’t helped. I trained to be a security officer and after working at a gatehouse, left to travel back up North and visit family. When I came back, a new hotel was opening down the street from me. I applied and took the Night Auditor position where I’ve worked for over a year now.  I love this job (except the hours are wearing my body down) and would love to continue there. This has kept me from bankruptcy but doesn’t pay all of the bills. The free time allows me to write and study. Since working there, no job applications in web development has led to another interview.

My story is about what not to do. I’ve come up with many excuses. The first one is age – I am sixty years old. My friends tell me it’s my age. Another excuse is that I have no college degrees. The bad thing about that excuse is that it’s partially true. Many online applications won’t let you fill it out until you list your degree, when and where. But my old resume is still floating around and I get plenty of contacts from recruiters who are looking for my experience. In reality, a college degree isn’t necessary; it just makes it harder if you don’t have one. My depression has been my biggest excuse. Talking myself down from applying for something is the biggest problem. Twice, cold feet has kept me from an interview. In hindsight, these two interviews were for tiny, shady companies. My cold feet was more than self-doubt. The other is location. There are many more opportunities on the North side of Tampa than there are in Sarasota. The commute would be too hard. I used the excuse that there are no real jobs in Sarasota outside of health care. The commute excuse is a legitimate one – the opportunity excuse is not.

Now comes the latest problem: how to redesign my resume. It’s a mess and sends the wrong message. I’d be the best I could be if my resume didn’t make me out to be the most experienced programmer in the world. It doesn’t but it come’s close. Having interviewed candidates, over-qualification was a concern. Companies like long-term commitment and know that a happy employee is a hard-working one. An employee doing less than he is capable may get bored and leave. The work environment is key to production. I’ve worked in good ones and bad ones. A bad one will have good talent heading towards the door.

So, I have to come up with a resume that doesn’t over-qualify me for a position I want or makes it look like I’ll be satisfied with big money. I have to assure an employer that despite my age, I want a long-term position. I have to nail the interview. And I have to do it with little or no hard commutes. How do I add my jobs in Florida? That doesn’t look good either.

Then there’s writing. I love writing. If I could write about programming (not necessarily teaching) and technology, it would be a dream job. Without sounding like a downer, how can I become a critic of technology? There’s money in marketing the latest and greatest, but is there money in criticizing something that comes out just to beat the competition? A little off subject but maybe something that hinders a writer from landing work or retaining a client. Getting a retainer is key in freelance writing.

Now I have a blank LinkedIn profile. Stating my position as know-it-all isn’t good. Neither is web developer/freelance writer. It will remain blank until I know what will work. My original profile had my work skills and references, but when a banjo player acquaintance from another state acknowledges me as a Java developer, it doesn’t look good. My profile will be professional and to the point. That is something else I’m learning how to do, but what my line of work will be, I just don’t know yet.

I will leave these decisions up in the air this week and look for opportunities. Python and JavaScript are where I’m training now. Knowing the latest and greatest is a priority. Writing is also a priority. Perhaps doing both is my future.

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