The holiday is over

That’s it – 319 days after leaving Microsoft, I’m back to work in IT. Maybe the gap is a little larger than I expected but at last the nagging worry that employment would take longer to achieve than our savings would last has gone.

The days seem to have flown by, as holidays always do. I know I could have made better use of the time off but, on reflection, I probably did as much as expected. The family managed a short holiday in Normandy; the house had restorative and decorative work done to it in several places, some of it by me; I spent more time than was healthy on Facebook.

Job hunting was put off for a few months so I could have a break after being in continuous full employment for nearly 24 years. Eventually, as summer moved towards autumn, I cranked up the rate of applications through the job websites. As you can see from the graph, interviews weren’t too common – 5 from over 70 applications.

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This was mainly due to having the wrong skillset for the majority of IT roles being advertised. First remove all the vacancies that require programming skills; then chuck away the many Exchange/SQL/Windows combo helpdesk jobs; next anything that required hands-on deployment or data centre experience; apply for what remains. And if I did find a role that I thought I had a chance for, my CV was often only 1 of over 100 on the agency’s desk from other applicants.

When I did manage to get through the first stage, feedback was usually positive – I interviewed well but was missing something (a particular technical skill to a required depth, for example) – so I knew it was just a matter of time before I was sitting in front of some people that actually thought I was a good match.

In this case Datacash decided I was the perfect fit – as an inexperienced software tester cum customer support engineer. The role had initially been advertised as just testing chip and pin applications and I decided to apply, partly inspired by one of my colleagues at Microsoft who had moved from mainframe integration support to testing Zune and Windows Phone. Admittedly, my choice was not as cool as his but you have to start somewhere.

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