Find an IT Job That Suits Your Skills
In every field of professional work, experience matters. It’s no different in information technology (IT). That being the case, how should a fledgling technologist find a job, or settle into an area of technology that suits their existing skills? And what about those crossing over to IT from a different field? How do such individuals know where to look for work?
What is the best and quickest way to identify a job that matches your technology skills and ambitions? How do you assess your strengths and limitations? Once you have a good professional profile in mind, what are the best paths to finding a job that fits? How can (and when should) you adapt yourself to a role that may be a less-than-ideal fit?
What do you want?
Before you confront any of these questions, you must understand your desire. What do you want to be? Stop focusing on impressive-sounding job titles or flexible skill sets and figure out what you actually want. Be open: The same job might be called five different things at five different companies. Basing your search on one job title may not work.
For example, if you are only searching for project manager openings, then you might miss out on the same job packaged as an “implementation manager” or an “associate project supervisor” in another listing. Avoid missing opportunities by using search terms that encapsulate your skills and experience, or those you are building, instead of focusing on job titles.
You could also try out sites that test your aptitude. Visiting a local college and taking a skills assessment or aptitude class would be another good thing to do. If you are interested in an area of IT but don’t know whether you would be good at it, try taking a class online, either a free class or one from a vendor like Coursera.
Find a job
Once you’ve figure out where your interests lie, the next step is to look for an entry-level job where you can settle in and start to accrue some of that all-important experience. Don’t get too focused in your pie-in-the-sky ambitions here.
Rather, when you are looking for a job that will help you get your feet underneath you, the best place to start is at a place where you can actually get a job. Job sites like Indeed or Monster are good places to look. They list jobs, but you can also find plenty of advice about how to get the best results out of your efforts.
I also recommend having a plan for figuring out which people to reach out to. Chances are you know an individual in or near your city or town who can help you make some introductory connections, even if that person is just a family member or friend. If you don’t know anyone at all in technology, in 2022, then you may have been living under a rock.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your connections, whoever they are, and ask them about opportunities. Friends and relatives will generally be happy to assist. You could also join a local peer networking group — maybe connected to a school you attended, or a professional association — to increase your personal connections bandwidth.
Follow companies, via LinkedIn, that you are interested in. More importantly, try to identify their HR team and engage with them. Find the applicable contact information and reach out. Make yourself a known entity in the city you are moving to, or the city where you live.
What are your skills?
You also need to inventory your skills. You have to figure out what you might be good at, or interested in. If you are unsure about what competencies you have to offer, then navigating a job search can be difficult.
Begin by making a list of your skills and experience, so you know exactly what you have to offer. Include knowledge and skills gained at previous jobs or with online classes, even if you have not used them in a while. You never know what will catch the eye of a hiring manager or potential company. Also, the last thing you want to do is sell yourself short.
This perhaps goes without saying, but one of your best resources when searching for a job is a professional recruiter. Reach out to a local recruiter and explain your situation. They can act as an advocate and guide your new job journey. They will be able to make suggestions on companies worth working with and sometimes even employers to avoid.
Work that LinkedIn magic
When you start to look and interact with people from the technology industry, overhaul your profile on LinkedIn. Remove the current “location” information on your resume and replace it with your target city. Add yourself to groups in the region where you want to work. Friend others like crazy and build your network.
Activate “Open to New Opportunities” on your profile. Add your target city and write an explanation, “Relocating to the (Name of City) area, seeking IT-related positions within the downtown area.”
Don’t worry about undermining any existing employment relationships. LinkedIn is set up so your current employer can’t see job search activity — only recruiters and hiring managers can. You will be attracting the right people to your page. Once you revisit and overhaul your profile, and then open the profile up to new opportunities, you will see how they match what you have defined.
A word of advice
Once you’ve met a few consultants or recruiters, then seek some career counseling. When you have a variety of opportunities at your fingertips, knowing which direction to head can be a challenge.
Unfortunately, taking a wrong turn can deter your career. Consult an industry professional — those recruiters you hooked up with, or someone in a similar role — for advice about where to turn, based on your skills and interests. Career counseling is also often available as a free public service from state or national government offices. (In the United States, for example, states typically have a Department of Workforce Services.)
Overall, the number one thing that I tell people is to consider what makes you happy. Carefully ponder the skills and experience you have acquired thus far and think about what has made you feel most fulfilled. What can you be good at for the long term?
Use this exercise to determine which of your qualifications to focus on the most. You may have more experience in a particular area, but if you are not passionate about it, now is the time to address that disconnect and change course.
Following your passions and interests will always be my number one suggestion. You can learn any technology, provided you are willing to put forth a certain amount of effort and time — doing some sort of work that will make you happy is paramount.
Find your way — eventually
Always be humble when you are getting started in any IT field. That said, if a job role seems “perfect,” you should take it — but don’t wait around if an opportunity arises to get a leg up on your future career. I always advise people to take job roles that provide long-term advantage versus immediate satisfaction or instant monetary compensation.
Also, don’t let yourself get frustrated if you have to work in a few jobs that don’t immediately seem to lead somewhere. Bear in mind that it will take some time to ramp up and traction in the information technology job market. Something will break your way eventually. Patience is the key.
With the right combination of resources and dedication, you will ultimately find your way. And if you end up somewhere that feels wrong, then don’t hesitate to change lanes. IT is an incredibly diverse field; there will always be something new or different you can attempt.