How to Get the IT Job You Want

  10/21/15    Posted in IT Consulting Job Search Advice
A job seeker is using an iPAD to look for a new job

If you are interested in entering the IT industry, chances are you are fairly concerned not about if, but how you are going to get a job. The industry is often flooded with people looking for jobs, due to the current intense interest in the field. The good news is that jobs are becoming more diverse and specialized every day, so more opportunities are becoming available. Still, there is a lot you can do to help yourself get the job that you want. The suggestions below will help you stand out from among the crowd of people who will also be applying for these jobs.

Build Up a Personal Portfolio

Depending on what field you wish to work in, there may be quite a few ways that you can build up a portfolio (where appropriate) of work before you even apply for a job. Often times, this portfolio or work samples will become useful in the future, even if you find a job relatively quickly. Start looking around for freelance work, odd jobs, or even work you can do for family and friends. This will help you gain experience in the field, and will show hiring managers that you know how to do the work for which they are looking to hire you. In many fields, it is also possible to start up your own projects and even bring in money for you while you look for work.

Become an Intern

One of the best ways to land an IT job is first to start doing work as an intern. It may be hard to stomach the idea of an unpaid internship, but hiring managers often view this as a real advantage. Having past experience shows hiring managers that you are passionate about working in the field. The fact that you were willing to work for little to no pay, just to gain experience and knowledge of the industry, will impress upon hiring managers that you will last in the industry. When looking at potential candidates, hiring managers have to do their best to hire people that are likely to stay with the company for at least a year. If they see that you worked as an intern for a few months, this will help them understand that you are a candidate who is likely to continue working for them for a long time.

Getting a high-quality internship is a task in and of itself, however, and there are a few things you can do to help you land one.  First, you have to do your research on the companies that are currently looking for interns. The people in charge of hiring these interns are often looking for people who are genuinely interested in their company, and will often ask questions to find out if you actually know who they are and what they do. You do not necessarily need to know what year the company was founded, but you should have a good understanding of how they make their money, and have some knowledge of their recent works, if possible. You should also be able to demonstrate that you have general knowledge of the industry and how it operates. One of the best ways to gain this knowledge is doing work in the field, which is another reason why building up a personal portfolio while you look for full-time work is such an important task.

If the company to which you are applying for an internship has a well-known product or service, you should learn everything that you can about it, and even use it yourself, if possible. Questions about their products will often come up in interviews, and you want to be able to show that you are interested in them. This will also make you more qualified since you will be able to handle customer inquiries right out of the gates, without requiring extensive training. This is very attractive to companies that are looking for interns, as they really want to get great work out of you for the short period of time that you are with them. If they believe that they will have to spend several weeks training you, they will most likely move on to another candidate.

Interviewers are also likely to ask you why you want to work with them, and you should prepare a good answer for this. You may think that these companies want to be flattered when they ask these questions, but that is not the case at all. They want to hear that you believe you can make an impact while you are there. You may want to think of a specific facet of their business or product that you believe you can improve. In all likelihood, you will not have the opportunity to work on this, but this shows genuine interest in their business, and helps them to understand that you are not applying for the prestige, but because you want to work.

Prepare a Great Cover Letter and Résumé

When you finally apply for the IT job that you really want, be careful not to rush. Often, job seekers looking for technology jobs will see the listing that they want, and then apply to the job immediately with whatever they have ready. Hiring managers for these technology jobs are smart, and they can recognize when a cover letter has not been written specifically for them. The cover letter is often more important than the résumé simply because without a good cover letter, you will not get past the first stage of review by human resources.

Just having a cover letter will, in actuality, give you an advantage over many of the other candidates. A surprising number of candidates will not even include a cover letter with their résumé, and this is a crucial mistake. Most people applying will have relevant work and school experience, so the people fielding these applicants have to look for other signs that you are going to be a good fit. They look at your cover letter, and your overall presentational manner to determine if you are the right fit. At the same time, it is also important to have a cover letter because it can be hard to get attention without having something that looks different and personal. When you write your cover letter, you should present information that is not included on your résumé. You do not want your résumé and cover letter to look or sound too similar. You also want to present this information in a way that shows how you can benefit the company, not how they can help you. All too often, cover letters are used to proclaim just how much the job seeker would love to work at the company in question, but the truth is, companies do not care about that. Hiring managers are tasked to find candidates that can help the company, not the other way around.

When it comes to your résumé, you want to tailor it to the specific job that you are seeking. Many résumés are simply ignored because they have not been written in a manner that shows genuine interest in the company or job that you are seeking. Each and every job that is available is going to have its own set of required skills, and this is especially true of technology jobs. If you do not highlight the specific abilities, skills, and education required for the job you are seeking, the people in charge of hiring are going to think that you did not bother to look at the requirements for the job. At the same time, they will probably also believe that you are not qualified if they do not see the specific things they need almost immediately.

If you have not had a full-time job in the IT field before, you may have a difficult time figuring out what to put on your résumé, and this is just another reason that you should try to do freelance work, personal projects, and internships before you start to apply. However, it is possible to get an IT job without relevant work experience if you highlight your interests and education on your résumé. Keep in mind, though, that you really need to be able to demonstrate an intense interest in technology in order to be considered. If you have ever done any technology work at your previous jobs, be sure to include this information in your résumé.

Next, it is extremely important that the design of your résumé be both aesthetically appealing and focuses attention on the most important pieces. Most job applicants today have dull résumés that do a very poor job of capturing the attention of their intended audience. This is a mistake that you really cannot afford to make, as it is virtually guaranteed that your résumé will not be seen. There are thousands of free templates online that will help your résumé stand out. One very simple thing you can do to make your résumé more memorable is to include your picture. This will help the hiring managers remember you and feel a personal connection. Just make sure that you are smiling in the picture so that you appear friendly and happy. Another option is to create an infographic of your resume. This is a hot trend that can really help your resume stand out!

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