Dear Career Adviser

BOSTON (06/05/2000) - I'm a college graduate and a 20-year information technology professional. I'm the CIO at a small company and interested in moving. I am responsible for numerous IT projects with budgets ranging to $15 million. Is the Web the right way to look for a new senior-level job?

Also, will my total years of experience, age or not being a "hands-on" techie with the latest programming skills work against me? - Concerned CIODear Concerned:

The intersection of CIO positions and job advertising on the Web has definitely arrived, affirms Tony Lee, editor in chief and general manager of The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, whose site (www.careers.wsj.com) includes plenty of CIO job listings, plus upper-level salary information and career resources. And you'll probably want to check out other sites such as CIO.com or even membership sites like Exec-U-Net and Netshare, where candidates pay to access unadvertised positions, most of which have been posted by executive recruiters.

Although many companies don't expect CIOs to be hands-on technical, Neil Fox, CIO and vice president of information systems at Management Recruiters International Inc. in Cleveland, says a good CIO should be at least moderately technically oriented.

"Companies are seeking solid business experience plus technical expertise in enterprise resource planning, help desk operations, IT processes and wide-area networking or want their CIO to lead an effort to benchmark best practices against similar-size companies," Fox says. Although a $15 million budget might sound pretty large, he recommends stating your net budget of telecommunications bills or WAN expenses.

"Dear Career Adviser:

I've been a Sybase database administrator for two years and have more than five years of strong database modeling and design experience. I'm concerned that Sybase doesn't offer the career opportunities that I'd have with Oracle. Am I wrong? I have taken classes and computer-based training, but how do I get hands-on Oracle experience that increases my opportunities?

- Undaunted DBA

Dear Undaunted:

Oracle definitely has a strong market position, and there are a lot of candidates out there with Oracle knowledge, says recruiter Matt Harris at TechLink Systems Inc. in San Francisco. On the other hand, while there are fewer opportunities with Sybase, there are also fewer qualified candidates. So take your pick: a bigger market with more jobs and more competition or a smaller market with fewer openings but also fewer competitors.

To add to your job security in the Sybase world - if you elect to stay with Sybase - Harris advises seeking out Sybase opportunities that are either extensive contracts or permanent jobs and to definitely start taking Oracle classes. Thorough knowledge of two databases is a definite advantage, he says, and makes a candidate even more attractive to prospective employers.

"Dear Career Adviser:

After 15 years, my experience ranges from mainframe programming and Common Information Model management to Internet and networking support. With a master's in library and information science, I work in education, implementing access to electronic resources for 19 different campuses at a large university.

I speak five languages, including Japanese, and want to work for a technology company, preferably doing technical consulting in Asia. Given my skill set, will I be able to do this? - Willing to TravelDear Willing:

Your wish might come true, since many foreign-capitalized American companies are hiring aggressively in Asia right now, at a time when many Asians have come to the U.S. for work and exposure to advanced technologies, according to Michael Nishi, president of Asia-Net (www.asia-net.com). Asia-Net is an online professional community run by Scotts Valley, California-based Tapestry.Net Inc. that focuses on Far East career opportunities. The fact that you speak Japanese also should help but don't think it will be a slam dunk.

Your noncommercial-industry specialization and broad-brush background may make Asian-based employers less likely to hire you for technical Web consulting or package-specific roles. Employers may find it hard at first to see you as skilled enough to make an immediate contribution or knowledgeable enough in the technical skills that would make you an ideal consultant.

To see how you can make yourself more marketable internationally - and at home - check your skill set against Nishi's hot-skills list for Asian jobs.

The list includes a knowledge of Web application programming languages such as Perl, HTML, Common Gateway Interface and Java; knowledge of databases such as Oracle and SQL; experience with operating systems such as Unix, Windows NT and Linux; and some network and security experience.

Fran Quittel is an expert in high-tech careers and recruitment. Send questions to her at www.computerworld.com/career_adviser.

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