Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?
This is a pretty good advice: yes it is a pretty good idea to (re)enter job market as a contractor, yes head-hunters do provide value to both job hunters and employers.
About ph.d. working as software developer:
(a) I meet two and both were hardworking but none of them could be considered a good developer. Over years one became barely ok, another left the industry. I suspect my experience is not unique.
(b) try old tech - Intel, IBM, wall-street - again starting as contractor will ease the entrance.
Computational Thinking: AP Computer Science Vs AP Statistics?
I can attest to that based on almost 30 years of my own career in software development. The only and very slight problem is that management does not understand this matter.
Ask Slashdot: Minimum Programming Competence In Order To Get a Job?
I saw 10s of engineers who made this switch. In some industries (telecom equipment, storage) it is very common. I do not understand the question about language - I suppose you can program in C and it is still bread and butter in many cases.
Try to get contract job first. In the past I had good experience with some guys that now are working for http://www.symphonyteleca.com/