I've been a Sybase database administrator for two years and have more than five years of strong database modelling 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?
Dear Undaunted DBA,
All you need is a little creative thinking. Don't get too hung up on vendor products; what IT employers really value is a good professional track record and breadth of experience, evidence of a commitment to excellence, and ideally, relevant qualifications.
The fact you do not have years of Oracle experience will not deter the discerning employer, providing you can demonstrate your professionalism in similar areas, since very few organisations today operate in a stand-alone environment.
Product knowledge will still be required, but good database design and administration are generic disciplines, and demonstrating you have achieved a high level of professional competence in these areas is more important than specific product experience.
As a plan for improving your prospects, using a number of small pieces of "supporting evidence" in your CV can be very effective.
Try the following: If you have qualifications relevant to your role, especially tertiary and vendor certifications, flout them.
Product skills are still important, so complete the exams for the Oracle DBA certification, since you've already completed the self-study. Build your own Web site with an Oracle back-end, as a showcase for your skills.
Join the New Zealand Oracle User Group - contacts you make there may have projects you can contribute to in your spare time, providing valuable references.
Show you are committed to excellence by joining professional bodies such as the New Zealand Computer Society. Make sure you refer to all your efforts in your CV.
Above all, don't be side-tracked by the buzzwords you will have seen in the job advertisements - being a professional in the wider sense is still the most important qualification.
Readers with career questions can have them answered in this column by IT recruitment specialists. This month Gybe Consulting answers your queries. Send questions via Computerworld journalist, Darren Greenwood, with "Dear Adviser" in the subject line.