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Career Hacker: Land your first IT job with hints from hiring experts

August 26, 2014
By Vanessa Ulrich

Whether you’re a recent grad or still in college, starting the job search process is probably top-of-mind. After talking to a few in-house IT hiring experts, here are our best tips for landing your first IT job:

Volunteer and intern

If you’re still in school, make sure you use your summer and winter breaks wisely. Internships are great ways to gain experience in different areas of IT so you can figure out what career direction you want to take.

Volunteering your time to help a nonprofit with their IT is a great way to show initiative and gain technical experience—and employers value it. According to a LinkedIn poll of hiring managers, 41 percent said they considered volunteer experience as valuable as paid work experience. While you might not earn any pay for this work, make sure it goes on your resume and LinkedIn profile in detail as it shows employers you are willing to go the extra mile to learn your trade.

Document your work

Develop a resume that reflects the IT professional you want to be by detailing every project you’ve done, regardless of its size or scope (even that coursework you did in college or university is an opportunity to show your skills). Make sure the content is detail-oriented and focuses on the skills you’ve used, technologies you’ve worked with and the results you generated.

Mind your online footprint

In today’s world of social media and mobility, it is easy for employers to check a candidate’s online activity and social media footprint, so make sure you make smart choices about what gets posted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Read about some handy tools to audit and clean up your social media profile.

Do your research

Before any interview, ask whom you will be interviewing with and use LinkedIn and the Web to learn more about them. It shows initiative and gives you an opportunity to identify similarities you might have with a person (maybe you went to the same college or played the same sport). Being able to connect with a hiring manager on a personal level really sets you apart from the competition. Also take note of the professional paths of the IT managers you interview with. Asking how they got to where they are now in their career is a great icebreaker and shows interest in your own career growth.

Show enthusiasm

After you’ve finished asking all your questions and before the interview ends, if it’s an opportunity you are excited about, make sure the interviewer knows you are interested. It shows assertiveness and makes it perfectly clear you are passionate about the role and the company.

Follow up

Don’t underestimate the power of a thank-you note. A handwritten note is ideal, but an email will work too. It’s the thought that counts. This is also your opportunity to (briefly) recap why you are the best candidate for the job. Make sure the note is relevant to the interview and you reiterate your excitement about the opportunity and what it would mean to you to work for the company.

Want to read more? Pick up some Fresh tips for preparing for your next IT job interview or read our Tips for Managing Stress at Work.

 As part of TEKsystems’ public relations team, Vanessa Ulrich reads everything she can about the technology industry and emerging trends. Vanessa blogs about where technology and society collide, giving context and commentary to top news stories.

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