Q

My 'computer operator' title is putting off potential employers

I have earned an A.A in Computer Networks and Systems Tech. and currently I am attending school for a BS in Business and Management. I've also spend the last three years working for a company as a "computer operator" in a UNIX and Linux environment. I like Unix and would like to continue my exposure to it. Unfortunately it seems that the "computer operator" title seems to put off potential employers. With my schooling and limited experience...

what would you recommend I do? You can approach your situation in several ways. First, you could talk to your current employer and find out if you can qualify for a job title change. Especially if it might mean you could call yourself a system or network administrator, it would definitely change your situation.

Second, you could expect to encounter resistance and add a cover letter to your resumes and job applications that includes language that addresses the perceived problem directly. This could be something along the lines of "Although my current job title is "computer operator," my current responsibilities regularly exceed the kinds of tasks and duties that go along with that title. For example, I am responsible for installing and configuring user workstations running RedHat Linux 7.1, regularly apply security patches and fixes to servers and workstations alike, and help manage UIDs and GUIDs for six servers in our database farm."

Third, you could pursue and obtain one or more Unix certifications to add to your current set of credentials. Certainly, an LPI Level 1 cert wouldn't hurt you, and if you can afford it, the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) is a pretty prestigious cert to add to your resume. OTOH, if you work in or around Sun Systems the various Sun Solaris certs (sysadmin, netadmin, and security admin) are pretty good credentials, too. That way, you can prove to prospective employers that you know some of what's necessary to work as a Linux/Unix system or network administrator. Good luck with your career planning and development.

This was first published in March 2004

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