This is more an extended question than a post. It is about moving on.
A bit of background. In April of 2011, I resigned from my position as a Senior Network Engineer at a regional University. There were many reasons, the most important being my own health. Constant stress, mountains of unpaid and uncompensated overtime, and a series of illnesses attributed to long hours and poor lifestyle finally caught up with me. Another consideration was that I was at the top pay level I was ever going to achieve in the organization – my manager was the level above me, so in essence there was nowhere to go but sideways. Finally, there just didn’t seem to be any big challenges any more where I was. After a lot of thought, I decided to leave.
I then began the seven months of accumulated long service and recreation leave I had, which will expire in a couple of weeks’ time. I will then be unemployed for the first time in my working life. I am not worried about that – I am comfortably situated financially, no wife, kids or elderly parents – and am intending to start seriously looking for work in the New Year. I have burned through a series of certifications, and am intending to sit the CCIE Lab exam in a few months. Plus, I have had a couple of recruitment firms call me out of the blue asking about my intentions.
I have spoken a lot with friends, family, and people in the industry but I am still not entirely sure where the future lies. Contracting has its appeal, but permanent employment has its attractions, too. Like everyone, I would rather interesting project work than day-to-day maintenance I have been doing for fifteen years, but I appreciate that there will be some of both in most positions. I would like a challenge, and the ability to grow further.
So I am putting it out there. I may be a bit unusual in the wider industry these days, having worked at the same place for over seventeen years, but it is not so unusual for the higher education sector in Australia. What advice would you have for the job-seeker who has not had a job interview (on the scary side of the desk anyway) in many years? What are the upsides and downsides of recruitment agencies? Would you recommend the contracting or consulting path, or not? Will I experience a culture shock moving from the public sector to the private?
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