In the 90’s you could easily find a company who would snap you up for one of their prime IT jobs. You would be pampered, trained, offered courses, gym memberships and all sorts of tasty perks. Your phone would regularly ring with offers from other companies and recruitment agents trying to tempt you away with offers of more money, better benefits and working conditions.
One place I worked at had a fridge fully stocked with juices, beers and the fruit bowl was refilled daily. The canteen was more like a restaurant with a team of chefs cooking all sort of tasty starters, carving up meat for your plate and squirting cream into handmade pastries (all subsidized of course). Every employee had a dedicated training budget and career manager to help you plan your progression in the company.
That ship sailed a long time ago my friends. You have to hustle to get a good job and employers can be picky about who they choose and good luck finding the office fruit bowl.
Changes in the employment market would represent an opportunity for you if you prepared to do just a little bit of work. You see, most employers want to do the minimum amount of work necessary in order to employ the right person for a job but, at the same time there are a number of concerns they will need addressing before they make the decision to employ you.
If you make it easy for your prospective employer to say ‘yes’ to you, you will be lights years ahead of the competition. Here they are (in order of importance). As usual, this is my opinion so feel free to do things your own way.
I still occasionally hear cries from ‘old school’ IT engineers who say that certifications count for nothing and experience is everything. Of course, experience counts but IT is no longer considered a bolt on for businesses but a core function without which the business can’t survive.
Certification means to the employer that you are the sort of person who is motivated enough to hit the books and do some self-improvement. These sorts of people are called ‘self-starters’ and are much preferred to people who turn up and expect to be handed everything on a plate.
Certification means that the vendor thinks you are of sufficient standard to install, configure and troubleshoot their software or equipment. The customer usually gets a discount on hardware and support if they employ certified staff and of course you can’t get business insurance if your staff aren’t qualified to do their job.
Many companies and all government departments insist on a minimum set of qualifications before you will be considered for an interview. These are usually in the form of CompTIA certifications for networking, desktop support, cloud networking etc.
Know the Basics
I’ve lost count how many companies I’ve worked for where the IT team didn’t understand the fundamentals of IT. This includes a team managing the network for a large airport who didn’t understand subnetting! I kid you not.
At a very bare minimum you need to understand TCP/IP including IPv6. At a major ISP I used to work for the server support team (Windows and Linux) used to forward tickets to us saying that the server couldn’t connect to the network. It was embarrassing for me to have to point out to them that the servers didn’t have a route to the address they were trying to reach. How could they not know this stuff?
The answer of course is that they specialized too soon. You must have a foundation in place BEFORE you chose your specific career route.
TCP/IP and IPv6 are required for EVERY IT role and from there you can move into server support, cloud, security, network support, helpdesk or whatever. It’s so easily learned. Spend some time doing Wireshark training and then spend a few hours learning IPv6. The entire process need only take a week.
Getting rid of troublesome employees can be a lengthy and expensive process. The employer will be looking for signs that you are going to cause them problems further down the line. Here are a few minimums you need in order to be considered.
- Research the role and company to show respect for the interviewers time
- Be qualified to do the job, even if you don’t have much or any actual experience
- Get a smart haircut, dress for success and be likable
- Apply for jobs you actually want and are prepared to travel to every day
- Turn up on time, do a bit more than required and help others if you can
- Stay out of office politics, internal disputes, and don’t complain
I know it sounds so obvious but doing the above few things will make you a highly prized catch they won’t want to let go. I cover much more in my IT career training courses.
Take on Projects
The ISP role I mentioned above was network support but I quickly saw some work needed doing. The team leader was too busy so I sent him a list of what I thought needed doing and in what order. He approved it and I began to work on simple projects such as auditing equipment, writing procedures, documenting backups and writing a training manual for new recruits. I wrote a support document for the helpdesk which dramatically reduced the number of tickets they forwarded to our team.
Look into some project management and ITIL certifications. If you start taking on this sort of role you will find you will become indispensable to the company and can also apply for management or leadership roles when they arise.
I hope this all helps. Drop a comment if you have anything to add.