Advance your career by losing hope

This week I finally decided to take the plunge: I started working on my résumé. That's right! After six years I have finally decided that it's time to get my career moving and so I have officially entered the job market.

Ah, job hunting! It's quite the experience, isn't it? I'd almost forgotten what it was like. There really is nothing like a good job search to make you feel like a useless, incompetent sack of crap!

I don't know about other industries, but this is definitely the case in the IT world. If you've ever looked for a job in software development, you know what I'm talking about. For every reasonable job listing you see, there are twelve that absolutely require a 10 years using laundry-list of excruciatingly specific technologies, strong interpersonal skills, a Mensa membership, and a strong track record of miraculous healing. And that's for an entry-level position. With a typical career path, if you start early, you should be ready for their grunt-work jobs by about the time your kids are graduating from college and moving back in with you.

The listings that have really been killing me, though, are the absurdly specialized ones. Not the ones that require 5 years experience with ASP.NET, C#, Java, Oracle, SQL Server, SAP, Netware, Active Directory, LDAP, UNIX, SONY, Twix, and iPod - they're just asking for the kitchen sink and hoping they get lucky. I'm talking about listings like the one I saw that required advanced training in computer science, a doctorate in medical imaging, and 10 years of experience developing imaging software. Or, perhaps, all those listings for a particular defense contractor that required experience with technologies I had never even heard of. I mean, I couldn't even begin to guess what these abbreviations were supposed to stand for, and I'm pretty up on my technology! When you come across a lot of listings like that at once, it can be a little depressing. "How am I ever going to find a job? I don't even know about grombulating with FR/ZQ5 and Fizzizle Crapulence GammaVY5477 or how to do basic testing of quantum microcircuits using radiation harmonics with frequency-oscillating nano-tubes on a neural net. Every idiot understands that!"

But the real killer for me is location. I'm in the southern tier of New York state, which is not exactly a hotbed of tech startups. I like the area and don't really want to move, but there's practically nothing here in terms of software development. The best possibility I found was a local consulting company 10 minutes form home. However, when I sent them a résumé, I got a message back saying that they were currently unable to add new positions due to the fact that they were going out of business. I've applied for a couple of other semi-local positions, but of all the possibilities I've found, the closest is about 50 miles from my house. Workable, but not a situation I'm crazy about.

I'm now starting to think seriously about relocating. I don't really want to move to the west coast, both because of the cost of living and on general principle, so I'm thinking of looking either downstate (i.e. New York City) or south to the Washington, D.C. or Atlanta metropolitan areas. All three of those seem to have a fair number of positions in software development.

However, I'm faced with something of a moral dilemma. You see, having been born and raised in upstate New York, it is my patriotic duty to hate New York City. But as a New Yorker, it is also my patriotic duty to look down on the South and New Jersey. That leaves me wondering whether I'm forced in to choosing Washington, or whether it counts as "the South" too and I'm just out of luck.

In the end, I guess I'm just not that patriotic. All three of those cities sound good to me. But New Jersey is another story.

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    No Subject

    Relocating is a wise decision. If you don't have happiness in the workplace, your unhappiness transcends to every other area of your life. We must devote such a huge portion of our lives to work, no sense working somewhere that isn't fulfilling for you and is utterly futile. And moving to a more metropolitan area would be great. More diversity, more culture, more events, more friend making opportunities, more everything. I feel your pain because I am exactly in this same situation. I don't want to move, but I feel I must abide by the mantra that you only live once, and do what makes you happy and happy I am NOT these days.

    Even though job advertisements ask for the world, I would still apply for the positions anyways. You never know. They might see potential in you and hire you anyways, even if you don't hold some knowledge in some specific technology. That's just my two cents.

    In the same boat

    I'm in the same situation. Most of the good IT jobs are on the peninsula in the bay area and I live in the central valley .. which is about 65-70 miles away. At one time I commuted to a job there and it took 2 hours to get to the job. I really dont want to do that again, and opportunities are limited around here so I am debating moving to Seattle. It's really hard making these types of decisions. I've lived in my house for 7 years and really dont want to leave, but I feel like I need to get going on my career since im not getting any younger (35). The current job I have is dreadful and is not something that I want to do, but is more of a convienance for me since its closer.

    Glad I'm not alone

    Thanks, David. It's always nice to know it's not just me.

    I'm rapidly coming to the realization that I'm going to *have* to move. I've started looking at jobs that are 80 to 100 miles from my house, and I *really* don't want to spend three hours a day in the car. I just know I can't stay in my current job, as my job dissatisfaction is reaching unhealthy levels.

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