Career Adviser

FRAMINGHAM (03/27/2000) - I have five years' experience developing inventory and financial applications for AS/400s. Our new CIO is axing current staff to bring in people he's worked with before. I've been here two years, and in the past four months, he's fired three people and says he's not done. - WorriedDear Worried:

To figure out how safe you are, "first assess whether the new CIO has been brought into the company to merge with or wipe out the current staff. You will then have a better idea of the new CIO's game plan," advises Miriam Erez, professor and former dean of the industrial engineering and management faculty at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology.

You can readily tell. If you were on the team invited to interview the new CIO prior to his arrival and if your skills are up to par, you might be safe. But if your company's market position is poor and its business results weak, or if this new CIO was brought in to transform your employer's current architecture and systems, then beware.

With more firings to come, don't fool yourself into trying to save your job; instead, figure out if you're marketable, build your current skill set and hustle to find new leads.

Unfortunately with this particular scenario, most people waste too much time trying to save their current job rather than understanding the end is near and seeking new work.

"Dear Career Adviser:

I have 25 years of IT management and application development experience in the insurance industry, managing successful projects to develop and implement client/server applications. My skills include Oracle, DB2, Visual Basic and C++.

I've also directed development of business applications to support re-engineered business processes, utilizing joint application development methodologies and process and data modeling techniques.

I saw an opportunity for an international consulting job as a project manager for customer software for an online banking application. Can I interview and get this e-commerce project management job? - Realistic?

"Dear Realistic:

"Clearly, developing an online application is different from developing a client/server application, not just from the technical side, but also from a business/marketing side of the design," cautions Peter L. Cherpack, financial services practice leader at CoreTech Consulting Group Inc. in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Your résumé vaguely refers to some online project management experience, which may persuade someone to conduct a phone interview with you. But you should do intense homework to at least sensibly "talk the talk" that will land you an e-commerce project management job.

Doug Benham, chief technology officer at Concentrex, an online banking software house in Trumbull, Connecticut, says, "First, you'll need to show you can build a project plan that shows you clearly understand the skill sets, technical knowledge and time lines needed for Internet development and are ready to staff accordingly.

"Then you must address at least essential basic concepts regarding Web technologies and protocols such as HTTP, [Secure Sockets Layer], HTML and JavaScript or firewalls and security, never mind hard-core issues related to session management, security and privacy, or the advantages and disadvantages of various Web application models such as [Common Gateway Interface], server-side plug-ins, and the template approaches," Benham says.

Unless you can stand up to in-depth conversation in those areas, you probably won't get the job.

"Dear Career Adviser:

I have more than 10 years of voice and data telecommunications experience, which includes extensive Internet experience. Most of my career has been in large corporate environments. How do I market myself to a startup? - Small Company BoundDear Bound:

Do your research at www.sjmercury.com/svtech/companies/moneytree, the venture capital site owned by the San Jose Mercury News, and at www.venturewire.com to see which companies might be good targets for your talent.

"Particularly with this tight labor market, in addition to seeking new companies to invest in, finding talent is the second major area of interest for venture capitalists," says R.D. Whitney, vice president of operations at Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire-based Kennedy Information LLC, which publishes the Gold Book of Venture Capital, a directory of venture firms and people.

Make no mistake: Many young companies won't want to hire you off your first bounce out of corporate America, because startups are an entirely different breed.

To conquer that hurdle, you should do some pro bono work with seed companies while you're pitching your corporate skills to the big guns to show that you can handle working at blurring Internet speed.

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