Thursday, September 03, 2009

My own "online reputation" hardly supports returning to mainframe, or does it?


I recently got a job requisition, out of town, for a job requiring “only” COBOL, Easytrieve, CICS (presumably command level), JCL, and (particularly) VSAM. Most other requisitions add some kind of twist, ranging from Cold Fusion to Case Tools to some SQL interface (even Oracle) that is specific in nature.

There are certain family and logistical (not necessarily “existential”) issues regarding responding immediately, which are beyond the scope of what I can discuss here. But there is a broader question. I wondered, what about my “online reputation”. It hardly supports the idea of current, “risk-free” mainframe expertise. I haven’t worked in the area since 2001 (when I was “retired” at age 58) and, as anyone can see, I’ve ventured out into the area of journaling problems with Internet and law. I explained my “online brand” in a posting on my main blog Monday Aug. 31.

Of course, falling within the scope of what I journal and write about is the history of I.T. and how it has changed since the heyday of mainframe culture, the 70s to the early 90s (followed by the Y2K blip). So my mainframe “reputation” has become embedded into something much “bigger”.

A few years ago, job counselors were encouraging flexibility and range of skills. Now sometimes that can come across as a sign of a dilettante. Since about 2006 or so, employers have started looking at “online reputation” as something that extends real world reputation, largely because of the way social networking sites evolved and were marketed, to a world that had not quite understood that an earlier revolution in self-publishing was already well under way, aided by super-efficient search engines. Employers, rightfully concerned about what clients (easily finding out about their consultants with search engines) think, have themselves forgotten that a couple decades ago we looked at “work life” and “personal life”, at least in IT, as separate. That may not be as so today.

There’s one other question about the idea of returning to mainframe after an eight-year absence. Mommy trackers can do it. Can retirees? Do employers really need to find grizzled mainframe veterans in their 50s and 60s?

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