Unemployed Computer Guy???



I have more than 25 years of experience as a computer programmer but I’ve been unemployed for six months.  Huh?  What?  How can that be?  The use of computers has absolutely exploded in the last 15 or 20 years.  How could you possibly be unemployed?


That’s a very fair question.  The answer lies in the type of experience a person has.  My experience has been with mainframe computers (“big iron”) and the COBOL programming language.  You mean they’re still using COBOL?  Oh, yes, and they probably will be for 10 or 20 more years.  There are hundreds of millions of lines of code still executed day-in and day-out, especially after hours in the nightly “batch cycle.”  COBOL still does the lion’s share of computing at most big corporations, especially the biggest and oldest.  And it would simply cost way too much to replace those custom applications.


So why aren’t programmers like me in higher demand?  Most companies don’t make many changes to these applications and most new applications are developed in newer languages like Visual Basic, Java, .NET, etc.  So why don’t I just learn some of those new languages?  I could (and have) but if you don’t have real-world experience with them, they won’t hire you (the classic “Catch 22”).  About my only hope is to get hired by a company for my COBOL skills and have them train (and use) me in more current languages.