A Guide To Starting A Career In IT
A lack of IT degree will not necessarily prevent you from moving your career into the IT or communications industry. However, if you have no relevant certification or qualifications, it will make it more challenging because you will find that you are going up against candidates with degrees and other relevant qualifications, especially when you apply for the top jobs with the best companies. Many of the steps involved in starting or progressing an IT career are the same as in any industry, but there are some that are more specific to your sector.
Bear in mind that IT jobs are found across virtually all businesses and certainly within every industry. From CAD and 3D design to web design, and from systems architectures to IT support, you do not necessarily have to work specifically within the IT industry.
Update Your CV
The number of IT candidates that submit old and outdated CVs is alarming, and it almost certainly holds many candidates back. Employers are usually most interested in the latest position, the most recent experience, and the qualifications that have been acquired in the recent past. Many IT sectors advance quickly, and what was considered cutting edge five years ago, is just as likely to be obsolete by today’s standards. Failing to update your CV means that you are still showing off how good you are with a 5 year old technology.
Similarly, the format of your CV should also be updated. Most of us have read reports of professionals that have got a job using a unique website they set up, or an entirely video based CV. While you shouldn’t get too carried away with this level of formatting, in most instances, you should use a modern looking CV design. Search CV samples and templates, but do make sure that they are modern. When implementing unique features in your CV remember that some recruiters and companies use special software that digitally reads the content of your CV. Sending a video CV means that some recruiters will instantly overlook it.
Targeting Your Applications
Rather than sending out a blanket application to every job opportunity and every business in your industry, you should ensure that you target your applications to the role and the company that you apply to. The recruiter has a very specific set of skills and a specific candidate profile that they are looking for and it is your job to try and determine the ideal profile for each job and then highlight how you specifically meet these requirements.
Customise Your CV
Your CV is a hugely important part of your job application, and it can make or break your chances of success. No matter how ideal a candidate you are for a position, if your CV doesn’t show off the precise skills that are required for the post then no recruiter or manager will want to take a chance on giving you the job. Decide whether your work experience or education are more closely suited to the position, and make it the focal point of your CV. In personal statements, job role descriptions, and other personalised sections, highlight how you meet the specifications of the job you apply for.
Avoid Cookie Cutter Cover Letters And Application Responses
In the same way that your CV needs to be personalised to a role, so too does your cover letter that accompanies it, and any application form that you have to complete. In fact, these give you the perfect opportunity to highlight exactly and only the reasons that make you the best fit for a job. Using standard letters and templates greatly diminishes the impact you can make on a recruiter.
Your Online Profile
The modern recruiter has many more discovery and research tools at their disposal. Chief among these is the Internet and, specifically, social and professional networks. At the very least, this gives your recruiter the chance to fact check information that you provide. This is a good reason to avoid lying on your CV, and it is also a good reason to update your profile on sites like LinkedIn, because recruiters will notice if you are absent from these sites, especially for some roles within the IT industry.
For some positions, you will need to show more than the experience you are able to include in your CV. Creative roles, especially, require that you show off a portfolio of your best work. Again, you should ensure that the portfolio you take is one that is targeted towards the type of position you are applying for and the type of work that the company needs. Whether you include your portfolio with your CV and application, submit it as the next stage of the application process, or need to take it with you to the interview stage, ensure that it is in good condition, is up to date, and is fully customised to the role.
Let Some Personality Shine Through
Don’t be afraid to let some personality show through in your CV, cover letter, and even your portfolio. Include a favourite piece, even if it doesn’t quite match the criteria of the position. Include some of your genuine pastimes and hobbies in your CV, although don’t include anything that might be considered controversial. Recruiters not only want to know that you can perform the tasks they require, but they also want to know that you will get on with colleagues, managers, and even clients. Your personality is what determines this, and not your professional profile and LinkedIn activity.
Emphasise, Don’t Lie
We all hear tales of people that have lied in their CV to land a job, and have gone on to enjoy a successful career as a result of that deception. However, while you should emphasise the strongest points of your application, you should ensure that you don’t embellish the truth. A good interviewer will be able to quickly find out, while your social media profiles can give the fact away too. At the very least, you will have fewer reasons to be nervous going into your interview and you should be able to easily complete the work that you are presented with if you are fortunate enough to land the job following the interview process.
Finding The Right Job
You can use your social media profiles to gain introduction and even to find some job listings, while open job boards do present you with a long list of possible opportunities, although many of which are unlikely to be relevant to the type of position you want. Specialist IT recruitment boards and job boards provide access to relevant jobs, while recruitment consultants can ensure that they only provide you with details of the specific jobs and roles that will genuinely interest you.
For help finding the most relevant IT job roles, RecitalConsulting’s experienced consultants can help identify the best opportunities available. Start your search for your IT career today.
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