Saturday, November 30, 2013

Reed Between the Lines: 6 Tips to Find Your First IT Job

by John Reed Robert Half Technology
November 28, 2013

Finding your first IT Job can be tough, but these six tips can help.

If you’re like me, you read a lot of publications about the tech industry and continue to read about the hot IT jobs market.

Most research, including research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, estimates that the IT unemployment rate is between 3-4 percent. Yet, maybe for you, this is not what you are experiencing in the marketplace. You may be unemployed or perhaps you’re looking for your first IT job. We all know that landing a job in general can seem like a slog, and landing your first IT job out of school can be especially frustrating.

How many times have you thought, “I can do that job if they will just give me the chance?” While it usually boils down to the most qualified candidate getting the job, there are several things you can do to better position yourself in the marketplace.

Here are six tips for finding your first IT job: 

Volunteer. There are many non-profit organizations out there that can desperately use your ideas and willingness to help them solve a technology problem. Reach out and offer your services on a volunteer basis to gain experience, do some good work for a great organization, and come away with a new reference and valuable experience that you can put on that next employment application.
Internships. Look for internship opportunities through your college or university career services department, even if you’ve already graduated. Even if the role is not in IT, look for opportunities to network with associates in the IT department, or even offer to help out with an IT project after hours to pick up some valuable IT experience.
Mentorships. Find a mentor who you respect and who can help guide your career. Mentors can be a great source of professional coaching and can potentially provide IT job leads from their professional network.
Network at professional associations and user groups. Join a professional association or a technical user group and attend meetings. This will not only enhance your knowledge, but will open up a variety of new professional contacts that can be a great resource of market intelligence and potential IT job leads.
Work with a specialized recruiter. While the recruiter may not place you, they can certainly utilize their expertise to better equip you to find that job through a professional resume review and practice interviews.

Be willing to start where there is an opportunity. Sure, you want to create gaming software or write that next great mobile app, but there is no better way to learn the workings of an IT department and broaden your IT experience than working on the Help Desk. Be open to all roles, even if it’s not quite what you had in mind, because you have to start somewhere. The key to beginning your career in IT is seizing an opportunity to show an employer the skills and ideas you bring to the table.

There are no shortcuts to getting that dream job, but consider these 6 options when you feel like things have stalled out in your career search. Let me know how these work or if you have other ideas you have found helpful.

Thank you.

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