Courting agencies in a fickle marketplace

I am an overseas migrant (46) and I want to change my career to software development. I've studied programming for over a year and came to this country hoping to get an entry-level position in software development.

Dear Adviser,

I am an overseas migrant (46) and my English is good. My past work experience is office administration and I want to change my career to software development. I've studied programming for over a year and came to this country hoping to get an entry-level position in software development.

However, only experienced software developers are needed and I couldn't get into the line I wanted. I went into banking where I was doing a data-entry job and gave up applying for jobs, as there was no response.

I stayed in my data-entry job for two years before resigning and returning to my country. I completed a detailed course for eight months in Web design and development and completed a project successfully. I then came back to New Zealand again hoping to get into the line I've always wanted.

This time I was determined not to do any other job other than my choice. I have been here for the past seven months and after five months of my job hunting, one recruitment agent recommended me to a friend who was looking for a Web developer.

He saw my work and gave me a chance to prove my skills in Web development. I worked as a freelancer for them and the client is very happy with my design concept and coding. Now it is due for launching.

After completing this assignment, my job hunt began, but now the agencies say I don't have that much commercial experience - as I have only completed two projects.

Within no time my CV is being rejected. What is this due to? I know most of the software connected to graphics and coding for Web projects, but no one is ready to give me a chance.

My CV carries all the details I know. Is there anything wrong in putting my past job history? If I don't put it they will say I don't have New Zealand experience and reject my application.

I strongly feel every agency works in the same way here. I am really frustrated with the agencies' attitude towards the less-experienced applicant.

I just want to ask one question, is there not a single agency who will go out of the way to help a candidate who genuinely knows the line, the subject that he/she is dealing with? Is there anybody to help me in getting into the line I want.

Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,

The first thing you need to think about are your perceptions. An agency's client is the employer, not the applicant.

Agencies do not have a duty to find employment for you; in most cases they are tasked by the employer with seeking the best qualified and most experienced people for specific roles.

There is a short supply of outstanding candidates, but this isn't true for less-experienced staff. In light of this, you should think about ways to make yourself stand out from the crowd, and about the way you deal with agencies.

At the moment, from the agencies' standpoint, you appear to have "backed all the horses".

I suggest that the lack of a good working relationship with any one agency may be hindering you. Choose an agent and commit to working with them on an exclusive basis, and discuss this with them.

Commitment is a two-way thing - I'm sure you'll find better and more frequent communication will improve the response you get.

Try approaching companies directly (but keep your agent informed about who you are approaching). There are many growing development companies, some of which may consider taking an application from less-experienced staff if they do not have too large an initial investment to make.

Don't just mail off your CV, as it'll just get filed - speak to people at the company and strike up some kind of rapport. Don't expect to be offered a position on your first call - find out about the employer's business, and make sure they get to know you.

Readers with career questions can have them answered in this column by IT recruitment specialists. Currently, Auckland-based Gybe Consulting answers your queries. Send questions via Computerworld journalist, Darren Greenwood, with "Dear Adviser" in the subject line.

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