Secrets To Getting
That Dream Job In IT
you are looking for that dream job or are just trying to get a pay
raise or promotion, there are 10 things you can do to improve your
chances. In general these 10 things fall into 2 categories; the first
is building your portfolio and the second is in building your network.
While technology is causing rapid change in most industries and for
many jobs, it is changing even faster for Information Technology (IT)
workers. You may not want to hear this, but as a result of this rapid
change, you may need to put in more work and effort than you can
squeeze into a 40 hour work week. Are you already putting in long
hours? If not, would you be willing to if it could help you find that
dream job, get promotions, and pay raises? If you aren't willing to put
in that extra effort and time, you might need to rethink your career
path as you won't be able to keep up with the changing technology.
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1. Get involved
This is a big one. Find out what professional IT organizations are in
the area and attend some meetings. If you find some of them
particularly valuable, step forward and offer to help.
Did you know that most of the best jobs aren't advertised in the paper
or on a job board? If you spend all your time responding to help wanted
ads in the paper and on job boards and sitting by the phone waiting for
that call; then you will miss out on the truly great jobs.
You must get out and network with others. Attending professional
meetings is one of the ways to develop a network. Now that you are
attending meetings, why not volunteer to help with some aspect of the
organization? This keeps you from being just a face in the crowd and
gives you even more opportunities to interact with others in the group.
However, if you volunteer for something, be sure to follow through or
you will leave people with a negative impression. Others will assume
that you would fail to follow through this same way in a work
2. Be selfless
Being selfless ties in with the first item above. If you join a
professional group; don't join solely for the purpose of getting a job
or it will be obvious to the others. Join because you enjoy doing what
the group does and get involved for this reason. There is no need to
torture yourself attending meetings that are painful to you. If you
find that attending these professional meetings are painful, then maybe
you need to evaluate whether this is the right career for you.
3. Get certified
Getting appropriate certifications in your desired field is especially
important if you have no experience. It shows that you have put in some
extra effort and at a minimum have the aptitude to do the job.
If you are fortunate, the company you are working for will cover some
or all of the costs associated with certifications. In the case that
they don't, what should you do? Do you sit around and complain and wish
that they would; or do you do something about it in your own time?
Ultimately, it is you that is responsible for your own professional
development. Take control. You don't have to go to that $3000 class.
Get a book or some self study material and study on your own. Does your
local professional group offer any kind of training or study groups? If
not, can you get one started?
4. Get experience
Many employers are only looking for employees experienced in the area
they will be working. They are afraid to hire someone, spend time
training them, and then have them decide that they are not cut out for
the job or that they will gain the experience and move on to a higher
paying job. How do you get experience when you are right out of school
or trying to move from another occupation into IT?
Sounds like catch 22, doesn't it? Actually, the answer is quite simple
(though not easy). Volunteer to do something related to the position
you are looking for. If you want to write VB.NET or C# software, then
write some programs. One suggestion is to approach a non-profit group
and find out what type of program you might write for them to automate
their processes and become more efficient. You could also write a
program that you can either sell or give away. Then put up a web site
and try to sell or give this product away. Now add this link to your
resume along with a description.
Yes, this requires a good deal of work on your part, but think of how
much you have learned, as well as what you are showing prospective
employers. You will stand out from all of those other students or
developer wannabes because you put forth that extra effort and learned
something about software development in the process. This also shows
that you love doing this type of thing. A wise employer is looking for
people who love what they are doing and go above and beyond what they
can learn in a 40 hour work week.
5. Write articles or books
If you are a beginner, this is probably not where you would start.
However, if you have some experience and are looking to move to the
next level, here is an outstanding way to do it. Think about the people
you consider experts. Haven't most of them written articles or books.
Writing a book is hard work that can take up a lot of your time, but it
is a sure way to gain credibility and be seen as an expert. If you
don't have the time for a book, you can write articles and post them to
the big IT article sites. You can find a list of some of these sites
Technology is changing so rapidly, that you must figure some time into
every day for reading. One attribute of the ideal candidate is a
voracious appetite for knowledge; and they will spend the time reading
technical articles and books as well as business oriented ones. It is
great to have the technical knowledge, but if you can't figure out how
to meet business needs with the technology, you won't be as successful.
7. Help on forums
This is closely related to #2 above on being selfless. By answering
questions for others in forums, you are honing your skills and
developing a reputation as being someone who knows what they are
talking about. You never know when that person you help may be hiring.
8. Don't hog the knowledge
I am sure most of you have worked with someone that was so insecure
about their job that they tried to keep what they do and know a secret.
To make themselves invaluable, they write a program or set up a
process, but don't let anyone know how they do it. These individuals
are no fun to work with and hurt the team as a whole. They also can't
take vacations without causing great pain for the employer. If you
share the knowledge, your coworkers will appreciate you for it. Your
boss probably notices which type of person you are, and if they have
any sense, they will promote the person that plays well with others
over the lone cowboy. Besides, if you share your knowledge you will be
able to enjoy your vacations.
9. Be willing to listen and learn from others
Technology is moving too fast for you to be the expert on everything.
This doesn't mean that you have to accept everything someone says as
truth. However, if someone tells you something you don't believe, don't
call their bluff right then and there. Instead keep an open mind, go
and research the topic, run a few tests if appropriate; and then based
on the data decide what is correct. In other words don't stand around
and argue over each other's viewpoints for 30 minutes when a 5 minute
test will tell you the truth.Now, after having done the tests to prove
which theory was right, publish your results. This way you know what
the answer is and you can accomplish several of the above items at the
10. Let your network know
While you don't want to sound like you are begging, let people in your
network know that you are looking for a new position and what type of
position you are looking for. If you have been selfless and helped them
in the past, they are more likely to return the favor. If you are
currently employed, be sure that your network knows to be discreet. If
you enjoy working for your current employer, be sure that you
communicate your professional desires to them so that they have the
chance to accommodate you before you go looking outside.
The bottom line is that if you have not done any of items 1 through 9,
you won't have much of a professional network that you can tap into. If
you surround yourself with other successful people and follow the
advice in the 10 points above, you will open all sorts of doors and
will be extremely successful in what you do. Note that this process
takes time and consistency. The keys to all of the above are to build
relationships, trust, knowledge, and skills. This doesn't happen
About the Author:
Joe Walling has over 20 years of experience in IT and management. He is
the president of Walling Info Systems, http://www.wallingis.com, a software development
company and is co-chair of a local developers guild, http://www.gspdevelopers.org.
Written by: Joseph Walling
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