Here are my top 10 ways to getting a job in IT. If you want to succeed in IT then this list contains your essential guide to improving your chances of landing that dream job. Also please reference the Resources page for links to tools, books and appls referenced here.
These are all tried and test techniques that I have either used or recommended to friends and colleagues.
1. Get Qualified
When an employer looks at a CV that person is going to want to see evidence that you are capable of applying yourself, have an ability to learn and have experience of the tool or functional area you are applying for. I cannot stress how important it is to demonstrate to employers that you have that capability. If you have Prince2 Practitioner or your are a qualified ISO 9001 auditor then make sure these are included in your CV. If you feel you have gaps in your IT professional qualifications then do something about it. Don’t let that be the reason you are not getting interviews. I can recommend an online elearning company called elearning-centre.com who specialise in high quality online content with over 2700 courses in many different IT categories. They do offer an excellent ITIL v3 course that will prepare you for the ITIL v3 exam and even includes practice exam questions.
I recently completed an home study degree course that I started back in 2008. I wanted to get a more commercial focused so I could better interact with business leaders within my company and then relate that better to my role as Head of IT. The other objective was that I noticed on job descriptions for roles such as CIO or IT Director almost always required that the candidate ‘be Degree educated’. I was not going to let that be the reason while I was not getting my dream job. It was hard work and took many hours out of my free time, but I am very proud to say that I am now a BA (Hons) Business Studies degree with an upper second. If you are interested in this type of study then I really can recommend the Open University (www.open.ac.uk). Please feel free to contact me if you would like more information or advice about the OU.
2. Know your ITIL
Nearly all service orientated IT roles these days, especially with medium to large companies, are going to require you to have experience of a or exposure to ITIL. If you are not at least qualified to foundation level then your CV will not get past the first cut.
Please take a look at the ITIL page for more information on ITIL.
ITIL v3 Foundation Level is the entry level qualification which offers practitioners a general awareness of the key elements, concepts and terminology used in the ITIL Service Lifecycle, including the linkages between Lifecycle stages, the processes used and their contribution to Service Management practises.
These are some really useful resources that can point you in the right direction to get ITIL certified. As mentioned above I can reommend elearning-centre.com who offer a fantastic self study online course. Also this ITIL v3 Foundation Complete Certification Kit which is a one-stop-shop for ITIL certification
||The ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) V3 Foundation Complete Certification Kit is the most complete guide for anyone involved in IT Service Management and who are aiming to take the ITIL V3 Foundation exam, whether they be first-time ITIL learners or seasoned IT professionals. Still a number one best-seller for IT Management from Amazon.com to Barnes and Noble and many more, this Third edition has refreshed the study guide and online learning program, with its updated, inspiring, and detailed plan for passing your ITIL V3 Foundation exam on the first attempt. With new examples, instructions, and cautionary advice, the ITIL V3 Foundation Complete Certification Kit is, to quote numerous of ITIL certified clients, “the gold standard of ITIL Certification.”
3. Is IT for you?
I know that sounds like a silly question especially if you have found this blog and actually started reading it, however, it is important that you are looking for roles that best suit your personality and skill level. As an IT practitioner your goal might be varied depending on your chosen field; to produce quality software, to provide a value add service, to implement change effectively and in budget or to improve productivity for all employees. It is important then that your objective or goal as a practitioner matches the goals and objectives of the functional role you have chosen. If you want to be a vet, but you are scared of dogs then you are unlikely to make much progress in your chosen career. If you don’t like interacting with people then please don’t consider working in an IT Service Desk because this is a fundamental part of the role.
Try this free career aptitude test click here.
4. Be aggressive when job hunting
One of the most common ways to job hunt these days is to apply to online adverts from sites like jobserve.co.uk or monster.com. That is fine and you will find a lot of good stuff out there. However, a word of advice and then a word of warning!
Advice – Make a note of the job you are applying for, especially the person who has lodged the advert. Make sure you get their phone number also. Even if this is not known you can call the companies main line number from their website to speak to that person. You will need to allow about 24 hours so you can be sure your CV has arrived and then give them a call. Ask them if they have received your CV and maybe they can tell you more about the role? Your CV now comes out from in the middle of the very large stack and is now on top of the queue. This is a very effective way of getting past that first stage. Remember recruitment agents get hundreds of CV’s every day. All they want is to get 5 or so CV’s in front of the recruiting company. Once they have 5 they will discard the rest.
Warning – Recruiting agents use job sites for clever marketing such as –
- gathering your information to sell on
- Using your CV to contact you and then sell their own recruiting services in your present company. This is becoming very popular
- I even had one agent that was setting up adverts so they can get you to contact and persuade you to get your CV updated, at a cost of course
5. Prepare a quality CV
Your CV is your marketing brochure. If this is poor quality, contains spelling and grammar errors or even contains too many pages then you are already at a disadvantage. Please take a look at my Top 10 tips for writing an IT CV or my CV writing service.
6. Be prepared for your interview
It amazes me just how unprepared some candidates are when they walk in the door. You should not expect to roll into an interview and walk your way through it without some preparation.
- Firstly don’t consider the discussion as a job interview, but rather a business meeting
- Do your research; prepare questions, research the company, download the company accounts, know where the company operates, what products?, what geographical regions, what was the last two big news events etc
- During the interview try and build a rapport with the interviewer, exchange information, ask questions, match your skills to the needs of the role, make it conversational. Be prepared for typical interview questions
I used a book called Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions which helped me prepare for those awkward interview questions. This latest edition contains many examples of difficult questions that interviewers like to throw at you, showing you how to answer them in a way that will advance your application and help you to secure that dream job
- Before the end make sure you know next steps and timelines
- Look smart, where a good suit, tie and clean white shirt. Why not take a look at this great offer at TM Lewin. I got most of my shirts from these guys.
7. Start networking
This is by far the most popular and common way of getting a job today. Networking can take many forms. The obvious is to to get yourself out to job fairs, seminars and symposiums and got and meet people. Make sure your peers know who you are. Of course the stereotypical IT person does not usually have such personality traits. If you do then I can assure you that this is the best way of getting your foot in the door. For the rest of us, and I do include myself here, then a more subtle and understated approach is to get yourself signed up for professional social networking sites like linked in (http://www.linkedin.com). Why not take a look at my profile and get connected – Andrew Scott at Linkedin.com. This has become a very popular place for companies to recruit directly without incuring recruitment charges why not take a look at the job section and include this in your marketing plan. The site allows you to build your own profile so effectively becomes an online CV that has a more personal look and feel. I can recommend this Linkedin.com guide to job seeking for more information about this under used gem.
Take a look at this great video ‘How to get a new job uisng Linkedin’.
8. Get skilled – personal development
This is a similar theme to getting qualified back in bullet 1. There are many personal development skills that you can learn that will improve yourself and improve the way you work. I remember taking a speed reading course a few years ago now. It totally changed the way I was able to read reports or large documents. I did not realise such a skill was possible or that I could learn it to a point where I am now able to scan large documents and even read books super quick and still be able to retain the information presented.
Other course I can recommend are Time Management, presentation skills, public speaking, negotiation skills, any kind of management training would also be beneficial. Most HR departments run many of these types of course within the normal personal development programmes.
9. Short, medium and long term goals
This is actually a techniques I learned on a time management course and I recommend everyone to do this on a regular basis. Simply recording your short term (day-to-day), medium term (month-to-month) and longer term (upto a year) goals, tasks, aspirations and objectives. You can keep these electronically on tools like Microsoft OneNote (which is excellent) or just record them in your work notepad.
These are day-to-day tasks that you might need to complete that day or that week. I do this every Monday and again each day, preparing what I would like to get accomplished i.e. Complete budget report, purchase domain name, Book ISO9001 audit meeting rooms (This is actually on my list to do today). You can expand that to tasks you want to complete this week i.e. Finish Top 10 guide to becoming a good practitioner (also on my list). This does not have to be specific to your working life, I also have buy lottery ticket and purchase Florida tour guide.
Thinking further ahead now, what can I achieve this month or in the next six months. I have got these on my list – complete ISO27001 audit training, Prepare for and book ISO9001 audit and finish phase 1 of MyHowDoIGetaJobinIT.com website. For you this could be to have a finished CV in the market or started job hunting marketing plan.
Long term goals are usually related to your goals or aspirations for a given time period i.e. By the end of the year I want to be in my new job or I want to have published my first ebook. Try and be realistic at the same time as pushing yourself to achieve. If you want to be fluent in Spanish within a year write it down, but at the same time, be focused about doing something about it. It is no good just writing these down unless you really want to achieve something.
I use a great mind mapping product from Mind Genius for my goal and task management. I find using products like this helps me manage my time much better and gives me a great sense of achievement and job satisfaction.
10. Don’t give up
In reality you are very likely to be rejected even after all this good word. Whether that be not making the final candidates for interview or even if you get an interview and are not selected. Always be proactive and brave. Call the recruiter and ask them why you were not selected? Be confident enough to ask them what you could do better? This does not always work as they really just want to move on and get commission, but if you have built a rapport with an agency representative then they are more likely to give you some free advice.
If you do make it to interview, take that as a positive. Your CV is working for you for starters. Again ask for feedback, learn from the interview process. Go through a lessons learned process yourself, right down what you did well and what was not so good and practise so you do it better next time.
The market place right now in the IT industry is competitive, but there are plenty of really good roles out there and employers are looking for really good candidates. Be positive, keep improving your CV, keep practising interview technique and keep applying for those jobs.
I wish you all the very best of good luck