18th Jan 2013
How to... Net a job in the IT industry
Recently I conducted a survey of top IT companies in Northern Ireland to find out what they ‘really’ look for when recruiting a new technical member of staff. The results were surprising and certainly unexpected in some instances.
GET BACK TO BASICS
The first thing to look at is the basics – the CV. This is your ‘shop window’, it should give an initial impression, sell you and your skills. Clarity is very important; the format should be well laid out and easily read.
You should edit your CV to make it specific to each position you apply for and make sure any gaps in employment are clearly explained. Keep it short and sweet, employers want to quickly get a feel for you and be able to assess your relevant skills and experience, not what your project was over 10years ago.
When giving details on job duties, be specific to what you did and what you achieved exactly, don’t waffle! Then there is the awkward one – picture or no picture? In Northern Ireland we tend not to include a head shot, possibly due to our cultural modesty, but international applicants nearly always do.
There are mixed feelings on this as some recruiters, including myself, feel it can be ‘cheesy’ while others find it useful as a memory jogger for post interview reviews. I will leave that one up to you but I feel the skills on the CV and good interview note taking are more important.
EXPERIENCE, EXPERIENCE, EXPERIENCE!
One would assume that taking the time to complete a Masters or PhD in your chosen discipline would show dedication and a passion for the subject, possibly even give you a step up the employment ladder. In actual fact, I have found they count for very little.
Most employers are more interested in how many years hands on experience you have, not what further qualifications you have completed post degree. This goes for most extra-curricular training courses and professional memberships also, unless provided by the company and job specific.
For some, a Masters can be beneficial as it can be used as a conversion from a non-related subject to an IT discipline but a PhD can frighten people and gives the impression of being more research focussed than commercially minded. I am not sure if this is because of our neurotic compliance to equality employment regulations or because they lack real value.
There are lots of courses offered by many outside organisations. My advice, save your money and get more work experience. This is of course assuming you have an IT related degree or equivalent, if not and you want to get into the industry doing qualifications in your own time is definitely worthwhile.
For those who do have a real passion and IT is a hobby as well as a career, show it! Give examples of the apps you have created in your bedroom; give the links to your website and articles. Show everyone how good you are at what you do!
The really cutting edge and market leading organisations are working with technologies that are new and not readily available as a training course, such as Spring Framework all those years ago. The only way to learn these is in your own time and through your own interest, open source is the way forward.
This is a huge bonus for organisations thinking of adopting these new technologies and makes your knowledge in high demand.
Are the skills you have been building up over the years transferable? Can you make the move from being a programmer in financial services to one in telecoms? Yes and No! It is really job and company specific.
Having industry experience is obviously an advantage and gets you started more quickly when making a move but if you are excellent at what you do and an intelligent individual then there should not be a problem. Most companies are willing to train you in their domain, if your skills are good enough, as every company works different.
Making a career move is always a big decision especially if the geographical or industry gap is large. Talk to everyone you can about it and listen to their advice, even talk to a professional and see what they think about your options. It will always be a risk but possibly one worth taking!
Patrick Mullan is an IT Recruitment Consultant with Forde May Consulting Ltd. He specialises in ICT search, recruitment and selection. Feel free to contact him on 9062 8877 or send him your CV.