If you are trying to get a break into a career in IT but aren't getting one then I can sympathise with you. When I wanted to leave the police force and get into IT I was in the same situation. I just needed a company to recognise me for the super star I was and give me a job. The trouble is, it wasn't happening.
I finally got a break with a company called Pink Elephant who provided outsourced graduate level support for technical and project management IT roles. They took over the IT support function for large companies and I went to work for them at Yellow Pages on the helpdesk.
Looking back after 14 years in the IT industry, training thousands of engineers and running my own IT company I see the same issue crop up time and time again. It's why I finally decided to create my own How to Get into IT course. I'll outline some of the big lessons from that course below.
1. If it isn't Working Then Change the Plan
Duh! If sending out 100 copies of your resume and hearing nothing back isn't working then why keep on doing it? It's like watching the fly in your house smash it's head off the window 100 times trying to get out. It will never work so stop. Adjust your plan and try again.
2. Quit Crying
You know life isn't fair right? I get sick of people posting that nobody will give them a break. Really, what is the point of that? I'm afraid that lucky breaks are few and far between. Get angry and get going.
3. Tailor EVERY Application
There is no blanket template for IT job posts so why are you sending a stock resume for every job? That is insanity. This isn't your online dating website profile. If the job stresses customer facing skills then put that in your resume, if it mentions telephone skills then talk about your proven phone skills and how you have used them.
You know several hundred people I'm guessing. Many of them work for companies with IT departments. Have you reached out to them, bought them a coffee and asked a few questions about the IT team? What do they do? Who is in charge? Are they hiring? Any growth or weaknesses in the IT infrastructure?
This tip alone should keep you busy for the next month alone! If you haven't let your network of contacts know you are in the market for an IT role AND briefed them as to your skills and abilities then your phone will never ring.
5. Speak to the Organ Grinder
We all know that most HR teams are clueless when it comes to IT. They post a job looking for a helpdesk role and put ‘CCIE desirable' in the job description! Find out who is in charge of the IT team or who the network manager is and reach out to them directly if you can. When you do that they pass your resume to HR and tell them to call you for an interview. Job done! While all the losers are crying on Facebook about not getting a call back you are having coffee and cookies with the IT manager.
6. Be Hirable
The typical image of an IT guy is fat, introverted and smelly. Don't be that guy. If you are personable, eager to please, customer friendly and keen to learn then your rise will be meteoric. I can't tell you how many lazy, whining slackers I've worked with over the years. They do the minimum, never study in their own time and then complain all day long.
After two weeks at my first job I was top out of a team of 15 experienced helpdesk technicians for calls taken and solved. At Cisco, I was in a team of 5 WAN engineers and they took on average 1 case per day each while I took 10. This is why I ended up getting promoted and eventually started my own IT company. I was hungry. Are you?
7. Treat it Like a Business
Do you have a plan for your IT applications? How much time every day are you spending on research, follow ups and networking? Show me in your diary who you called yesterday and who you are following up with today. If you can't then please don't tell me you are serious about getting into IT because you are just treating it like a hobby.
8. Do What You Can NOW
I knew when I was in the police that I lacked any IT experience so I volunteered to become an e-mail trainer. The course was pathetic as was the e-mail system (in 1998) but it allowed me to put it on my resume. I looked for any freelance work and moonlighting opportunities I could so I could get some credible IT references. I passed exams and whenever possible used live equipment so I could add ‘100 hours live Cisco router and switch' experience to my resume.
As you can probably tell, I'm more of a kick up the butt kind of guy than a shoulder to cry on but I do get results! As I've mentioned, I've got a course on How to Break into IT, it's 5 hours long and packed with every tip, trick and strategy I've used time and time again over the years. If you are still struggling to get a break into IT it will only help you.