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View Full Version : A conundrum of skills, a crossroads if you like.



mrmoosehead
8th May 2011, 08:13
So, I was a contractor between 2003 and 2008, mainly doing SQLServer and .NET stuff (cam from an m$ background in permie stuff before that dev up to management). On the side I did some PHP stuff for a chap I know who had a design agency.

just over 3 years ago we had an opportunity to set up a business on the back of a large client project so the sister company to the design company was born, dealing in development stuff. Most of this was PHP/MySQL stuff due to the costs of M$ stuff for smaller businesses. Although I did return to a previous company to do some more ASP.NET webservices and SQLServer stuff in that time.

I quit the company about 4 weeks ago (with plenty of notice to smooth transition) to go back to contracting as I was fed up of being responsible for everyone else and essentially wiping lots of people's arses.

So at a crossroads. The contract market up here in Leeds/Bradford is OK I think. But I'm just not getting the interviews that I used to. I suspect that it's due to my CV being 'all over the shop'. :tumble:

I have/had a php/mysql 6 months at a very big multinational if I want it, at a good market rate for php/mysql. But I turned it down, because commercially it makes more sense for me to return to SQLServer and/or .net development as the rates are better.

I've been talking to agencies a lot, getting good feedback, but I think that clients are scared of the range on my CV, and agents don't want to risk putting me in the batch of x CVs that they get to send forwards. I also think that they don't understand 'what' I am - i.e. most contractors can be pigeonholed as SQLServer DBA or BI Developer or xxx, whereas I have been looking at the whole range of my skills.

Should I be concentrating on one skill, and aiming for that, and only that? I know that once in a role I will provide value to the business, but getting that first step in is proving hard. (Although I suspect all those bank holidays are partly to blame)

I really want to return to my SQLServer skills as I have a database brain and enjoy it. My CV is oriented towards that, but my 'lingo' is out of date and whilst not forgetting how to do things, I can't reel off a list of SSIS data flow components like I used to as I'm a bit rusty - but nothing that a day of working on the BIDS wouldn't solve. I will not lie on a CV, but I have highlighted certain roles that have the required skills.

When money starts to get tight (shortly, my wife says) should I bite the bullet and take the php/mysql contract - I think that this is the turning point of my contrtacting career as it would indelibly mark me as a php/mysql developer - which is where I don't want to be.
I have thought of taking this contract and doing one of the SQLServer MSCEs ( or whatever they call them these days ) in that time.

Frustrating position - I'm a jack of many trades, and bloody good at more than one of them - but that doesn't seem to occur to agents/clients who just want to see 5 years of nothing but the skill they want to see (regardless of how good the candidate actually is at these skills)

I seem to have rambled on a bit there.
Moosey .

SueEllen
8th May 2011, 13:17
Write 2 different CVs.

One for your M$ skills and another for your PHP skills. Then apply for roles sending the appropriate CV.

Agents are use to people rewriting their CV for a role to highlight the most relevant skills, so don't be afraid of informing an agent if they contact you that they must send x version of your CV for a particular role.

And it's not the clients who are the problem btw it's the agents who won't put you forward. 99% of agents have no technical or IT skills whatsoever so if your CV differs to greatly from the list of skills they need for the client they won't put you forward. There as there are clients who will accept you if you aren't a 100% match as they know certain skills are similar.

mrmoosehead
8th May 2011, 18:51
Thanks for replying SueEllen.

I'm aware of the 'selective highlighting' on CVs that is necessary to promote whichever skills are required by the role in question.

One question I have is if I take a 6 month php/mysql role, will this irrevocably damage my CV for the M$ positions? I've had a lot of feedback from agents that they are not putting me forwards, or the client is only interviewing people with the skill required and nothing but the skill required for the past 5 years or so.
Personally, I think that is a very blinkered view in some respects as it's incredibly useful to have a rounded knowledge. OTOH I can see why this makes for a simple selection criteria for a client.
I need someone to take a (minor) risk on me, and I think that's asking too much in contracting. I know, and anyone who I've worked with knows, that I can do all these skills, whereas people think that it's not possible to be a great SQLServer developer *and* be a great PHP/mySQL dev *and* be able to render complex layouts in HTML/CSS with awesome jQuery widgety things that do stuff.
(Just a bit of self trumpet blowing, but hey ho) I'm not perfect, but few people are. I just have a stupidly (over) analytical/pattern/structure based mind (drives my wife mad sometimes). Hence over-analysing my situation.... ;)

I'm sure it'll all work out in the end, just frustrating at the moment. :suicide:

alreadypacked
9th May 2011, 13:45
Do whatever it takes to get a role, worry about your next role once you get this one.

Focus on your current task, you have spent a long time multi-tasking problems, stop it. Focus man :tongue

I have friends who were in high pressure roles, changed roles and felt a bit "lost" or lost-it for a while until they realised that now was normal.

Stop over thinking it, get your CV reviewed, take the advise.

Calm down as you may come accross as burnt-out.