Having spent time on both the job seeking and the hiring sides of the IT industry, I know firsthand how tough landing that first IT job can be. The classic adage of “entry level means 2+ years’ experience” rings as true in the IT industry as any other – but as with any other positions, a little creativity to help separate yourself from the rest of the pack. The old Arch Ward quote rings true here “The toughest part about getting to the top of the ladder, is getting through the crowd at the bottom”.
Separate yourself by going the extra mile. Most people have a decent resume, and most have some sort of generic cover letter. It’s often blatantly obvious that those just entering the workforce are looking for a salaried role that somehow fits under what they’ve studied – hiring managers to want to see a targeted approach if they’re considering entry level candidates. I wouldn’t want someone working for me that would’ve accepted any job; I want someone who was able to articulate why the job I’m offering is the one they’ve been planning to get all along.
Unfortunately, it often is all about who you know. A company like Bowman Williams exists to act as an expansion of a network, from both the client and candidate sides, but you’re on your own without any industry experience.
Let’s say (just as an example), you want to work in Cyber Security. Step one is to make a list of every relevant meetup group in your area, and while you’re there, just talk to as many people as you can. Don’t come off as someone desperate for a job – people will remember the individual who was led to them by a shared passion, instead of just a basic need.
Secondly, go on LinkedIn, and send one targeted LinkedIn message per day to someone managing the people doing the job that you want. Something like;
I’m currently studying/interested in the Cyber Security field, and after doing some research, I have a strong suspicion I’d really like to end up in a position similar to yours sometime down the line. I was hoping that you might let me buy you a cup of coffee sometime this week and pick your brain a little. Just want to chat a bit about your current day-to-day, and how you ended up in your current position. I want to ensure that I have an accurate understanding of the positions I’m targeting and that I’m doing the right things to get there.
Just to clarify, this is not some mass-messaging networking/job seeking effort. I’m sending exactly one message today, and it’s to you. (THIS is the money maker line right here).
Hope to talk soon,
You’re not asking for a job like everyone else on LinkedIn – you’re asking for a favor that’s easy enough to oblige. Send one a day so you’re not a liar, and you’ll get plenty of interviews. You can send it as a standalone message if they allow it, as a connection request, etc.
It’s not as hard as you think to get the first job – you just must think a little differently than everyone else. Shift your focus towards expanding your network, and it’ll continue to pay its dividends throughout the entirety of your career.