Can They Do That? / Workplace Advice

CAN THEY DO THAT? / WORKPLACE ADVICE

August 31, 2005|By CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN

Mainframe jobs listed, but weigh new career

Q. I worked for a large insurance company for more than 37 years until my division was outsourced to another company. There, I did the same work with the same colleagues. But after two years we were laid off, and our jobs were outsourced to India. I am 58, and for months I have been looking for similar work, which deals with mainframes, or older centralized computer systems.

A. Plenty of companies still use mainframes, said Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O'Clock Club, a career-counseling service in New York. She suggests that your next stop be Dice.com, a Web site that specializes in technology jobs. There you'll find a list of mainframe jobs.

From that site and any other leads, compile a list of jobs within an acceptable commuting distance.

"The larger your circle, the better," Wendleton said. "We want our job hunters to have six to 10 job possibilities in the works at any one time."

Even if the companies have no openings, you should contact them and ask for a meeting.

"And keep in touch with them every two to three months -- just so you are on their radar screen when something comes up," she said.

After contacting 20 or 30 companies, you may conclude that your specialty has, indeed, shifted overseas. If so, you will have to retool yourself to figure out what else you should do, Wendleton said.

You'd face a tough decision since you have been in the field so long, she noted.

"But if you want to work for another 10 or 15 years, you will have to make the investment in changing careers," she said. "The average American has been in his or her job for only four years. So they have to continually retool themselves -- even at age 58."

Don't be discouraged if the job search takes longer than you expected.

The job hunt for people older than 55 averages four weeks longer than for younger workers, said Wendleton, quoting data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But you might have to factor in even more time since you've been out of the job market for so long.

Even if you don't find anything in your field, try to keep your optimism up.

Tell yourself, "Here's my chance to explore this big, beautiful world and find something exciting to do," Wendleton said.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a columnist for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. E-mail her at yourmoney@tribune.com.

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