I recently graduated from a technical school with the goal of changing careers and entering the IT field. I have a little IT professional experience and my A+ certification. Any tips on finding a job?
First, thank you for your question and good luck on your job search.
You mentioned in your email that all you needed was a little experience and training, but no one was willing to give you a chance. My suggestions to you are threefold. First, don’t underestimate your knowledge. Second, don’t underestimate your experience. Third, there are ways you can potentially enhance your knowledge, experience and training while job hunting.
Regarding your knowledge, you have your A+ certification and the knowledge you gained at the technical school. You said you have worked with XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Microsoft Active Directory, batch file, and other Microsoft-based software. This is a highly marketable skill set.
Regarding your experience, your resume shows that you upgraded hundreds of PCs at a major financial institution using a flash drive based process that you designed. Being at a financial institution, who surely did a background check on you, shows you are hire-able and can be trusted. Having created the flash drive based process shows you have both initiative and the technical ability to perform this type of task. Your resume also shows you worked in non-IT jobs within the travel and manufacturing industries. That said, you have worked within three industries and every industry likes to hire their own. Therefore, financial services, travel and manufacturing are three great places to concentrate your job search because you have already done work there.
Regarding places to gain additional experience, consider the following:
Work free at a small local PC Fix-it company: Find a small PC maintenance company near your home and offer to work part time for free until you find a job, under the condition that they will let you work on a variety of PC related issues/tasks, provide some on-the-job training as needed and give you a professional reference. The reason I say work for free is that many small, one or two person, companies can use the extra hands, but don’t have the cash flow to hire and train you. These type of firms do great work and the company owners are generally very knowledgeable techies and great business people.
Apply for a part time job at PC retailers: Don’t underestimate the value of working part-time at a retail store fixing and/or selling PCs and other related electronics. For example, a job with Geek Squad at Best Buy or an equivalent role at Staples, would give you a very wide variety of PC maintenance experience, provide you with a great item for your resume, and open the potential for full time work at Best Buy or Staples, both of which provide unlimited career growth. I have had PCs fixed at both of these companies and received excellent service from very competent computer professionals.
Use contracting firms and recruiting agencies: If you have not been working with these types of companies begin contacting them. These types of firms generally don’t work with people who have no experience, but you have some as previously mentioned.
Contact your schools career office: Most technical schools have very strong job placement departments for their recent graduates. Not only is it a great student benefit, but having a high percentage of recent graduates with jobs is a great marketing asset for the school. Therefore, it’s in their best interest to help you find a job.
Consider working remotely: Many major computer vendors, both hardware and software, have people working remotely from home. Consider applying for work at these types of firms. Generally, they are always looking for good people and provide free training on their particular hardware and/or software products. You may not want to do this forever, but it’s a good way to get some additional professional experience and employment with a nationally known company.
In closing, if your job hunting plan isn’t working, expand and/or modify your plan by thinking of new avenues to add to your job search, such as the suggestions previously mentioned. Also, as a topic for another day, expand your professional network, both physically and electronically. That is to say, physically go to local professional meetings and meet people who may be hiring or know of open positions that have not yet been officially advertised. Regarding electronically, get heavily involved in social media related to your profession. You may find that either, or both, of these networking activities may help you find your next great job.
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom and @MgrMechanics or at www.ManagerMechanics.com.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.
Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.