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Career Advice

Breaking into a career in the IT industry – Some basics on improving your chances…

Breaking into a career in the IT industry…..A Guest Post for TheEmployable…

In recent years, I’ve met a fair few people that have had to put their dreams on hold due to the recession – this includes getting married, having children, buying a new house and looking for dream jobs, all of which can take time and money. While the first three examples can be achieved by setting up savings goals or taking a loan out, the latter doesn’t need to be on that list at all.

If your job’s getting you down there’s one quick and easy solution, and you probably already know it – change your job! You’ve probably already convinced yourself that there are a million and one reasons why you shouldn’t – anything from anxiety, just feeling in a rut or a sense of inadequacy to attempt a new career – but changing your occupation really is something you can control. The only thing it really requires is a good sense of willpower.

Those that are hankering after a career in the IT industry shouldn’t give up all hope just yet, since this is one of the few that’s growing in popularity and prospects. Yes, the jobs that are available will be swamped by applicants, but what makes you think you won’t be successful?

There are just a few factors you should consider to ensure that you rank higher than other applicants…

Get qualified….

The IT industry is inherently technical, and while there are people working within it that started out straight from school, they will have gone on to gather a few qualifications here and there to help them along. You don’t need to get yourself a degree in computing, but working towards some certificates in UNIX, SQL or Cisco certainly wouldn’t hurt your application. The beauty of this career is that it can be quite easily studied and learnt at home – particularly with the number of online courses on offer.

Google provides a comprehensive training centre and you will be able to take Google certification exams for $50, which will look impressive on a CV, particularly if you are applying for a digital marketing role.

Get some experience….

If the jobs you’re applying for are way above your experience level it’s no wonder you’re being turned down. If your understanding of IT extends to a Facebook addiction, do some reading! Search for an entry level job, such as data entry or writers – you might not like the salary, but you will be able to learn on the job and after a few years you’ll be up there with the big guns.

Explore all the different avenues…

The beauty of the IT industry is the sheer amount of prospects you have – artsy individuals could look for graphic design roles which are in constant need, technically-skilled people could look for a development or engineering role or if you simply have a strong understanding of the internet, look into search engine optimisation or pay-per-click roles. It is a competitive industry and you will see that salaries vary by company and region, but with the ever-increasing importance of the internet, it’s a fantastic industry to break into.

If you’re like me, you spend most of your days staring at a computer screen (even on days off!), so a career in IT is a logical jump and could set you for life.

Written by Sophie Kelly on behalf of Nicoll Curtin, an international IT recruitment agency working across the banking and finance, commercial and public sectors.

Thank you Sophie for this helpful guide. If you need further career advice – Click Here –


5 Responses to “Breaking into a career in the IT industry – Some basics on improving your chances…”

  1. I’ve worked in IT support for over 20 years. My salary rarely exceeded the UK National average wage. Conditions of work were excellent, but job security dropped in the last decade.

    IT employers really value relevant experience (at least as much as certificates). I’m currently doing some voluntary work in order to get some experience of the current version of Microsoft Access. I’ve also considered working for a business for nothing (either part-time, or temporarily) in order to get experience of other current software.

    IT employers also value some of the same skills as other employers (communications, collaborative working, numeracy, writing skills). If you can pick those up outside the IT industry and demonstrate that you have them, then it will improve your prospects inside the IT industry.

    You need to think carefully about what branch of IT you enter. This will have major implications for your lifestyle. IT Support now tends to operate 24/7 in the private sector. Software development (for example) tends to be more limited to office hours. If you want to have choices about the geographical location of your work, you need to pick a role which allows you to choose from a number of potential employers (ideally working partly from home).

    Finally, be aware that some IT roles are commonly moving offshore, so don’t pick one of those (unless you are good enough to move abroad to train & manage the locals).

    Posted by LC Jackson | February 11, 2012, 11:31 am
  2. One career risk almost unique to the IT industry is that of getting stuck specialising in old versions/unfashionable software/applications that nobody uses anymore. If you do get a career in IT, make sure that you are always developing skills that have a market value elsewhere. This may mean changing employers more than you would otherwise prefer. Remember private sector employers hate spending money on training! They would much rather poach someone who has already been trained elsewhere and who has demonstrated that they can use that training.

    Posted by LC Jackson | February 11, 2012, 11:36 am
  3. … and another thing! If there is one thing IT employers hate paying for more than training, it is certification. So, if you do a course and have the option to pay for certification yourself then consider that option seriously. If the qualification has market value then it’s worth paying for yourself (if necessary).

    Posted by LC Jackson | February 12, 2012, 2:55 pm
  4. Oh, and of course the industry you choose to supply IT services will have implications for conditions of work. Finance for example has a habit of imposing challenging deadlines and expecting work across weekends and nights to meet them.

    Posted by LC Jackson | February 12, 2012, 2:59 pm
  5. PS The IT industry is notoriously unfriendly to disabled and older workers, so don’t count on having a job in the private sector after developing, say trapped nerves, or over the age of 50!

    Posted by LC Jackson | February 12, 2012, 7:19 pm

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