Q. In 2010, after getting laid off, I made the decision to put my career on hold so that I could care for my elderly parents. Now I’ve made other arrangements for them, I am able to resume my career path as a software developer. I have been a developer/programmer since the mid 80’s.

I am having a serious problem getting interviews and getting hired. I have no recent professional references. Second, I have some gaps in my employment because of relocation. Third, I am not up-to-date with current technology. I am in my early 50’s and know no other trade.

Recently my wife lost her job. Until then we had been surviving on her income. Now we are in a dire situation with very little income.

What can you recommend?

Answer: Sounds like you have had some rough times with life – family and health. I’m sorry to hear about those problems. They happen in one form or another in life – but do they all have to happen at once?

First thing I advise is to stop thinking “global” – the world is crashing down on us.
All these things happen — but in your case they are happening at the same time. Therefore take them one at a time.

Make a plan and start to take back control of your life.

Right now you are focusing on the negatives about your ability/qualifications –

Not up-to-date on technology
Gaps in my employment
No references

Think about taking steps to change those negatives – one at a time.

Think in terms of up-dating your skills – online or taking classes. There are so many resources available on line – including obtaining degrees – you could do in the evening while you do some kind of temporary work.

You may have to take a career step back and change fields until you can come up to speed. With technology changing almost daily – it’s difficult to stay up to date – and to quality for a current job you are going to have to catch up.

Consider signing up with a temporary agency – or look online for part-time, temporary jobs. Sometimes temporary, part-time jobs find a way of becoming full-time, regular jobs. You never know.

As far as references – try to get someone that you worked with in a company to give you a reference – not an official company reference – but as a personal reference from someone who knows your work and can vouch for you.

The most important step is to change your outlook and think positive about starting over. New beginnings start with a single step. The sooner you get up and out, the sooner you will be taking back control of your life and not letting unfortunate circumstances rule your life. The longer you wait the more depressing the situation will become.

I’m not suggesting that any of this is easy – it isn’t. But you are going to have to change what you are doing now to get a different results.

Have a plan and take small steps at first – but take steps!

Best wishes

Carole Martin
The Interview Coach