It’s a great time to look for an IT or tech job. Not only is the overall job market strong, but there are growing threats, and complexities businesses are facing in terms of cybersecurity. More companies than ever are putting significant resources into their network strategy and security, meaning they need qualified professionals onboard.
In 2015, the median salary for these jobs was $81,430, which is more than twice the national average as well.
While it can be a promising career field, and there are a lot of high-paying opportunities out there, that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges for job-seekers. For example, getting a tech job goes beyond having the right degree—most employers want to see that you can deliver on the skills you say you have before they hire you. If you don’t have experience, you may be counted out.
The following are some things to know if you’re interested in getting a job in tech, or you think you might be in the future.
Create Your Own Experience
If you don’t have experience working in a tech position, that doesn’t mean you can’t show your skills and abilities to potential employers. What you can do is create something or build something that you can show. You can show that you not only have the hands-on experience employers are seeking but that you’re willing to take the initiative as well.
Plus, if you create your own project, it’s an environment where it’s safe to fail because there’s not the potential for you to destroy a company’s investment.
You can scale your projects at your own speed and based on your abilities as well.
While you’re at it, don’t forget that taking on side projects or even helping people you know to solve their IT and tech problems can show experience. You can point to tangible examples of where you used your skills and let companies know that you can apply your knowledge in a real-world way.
A few other ways to get experience outside of full-time employment include:
- Find short-term projects through a site like Upwork where you can then use them to demonstrate your experience.
- Volunteer—you might be surprised how many tech-related volunteer programs are out there.
Get Experience While You’re in School
If you’re still in school and you hope to find tech employment when you finish, don’t miss out on the opportunities to gain experience while you’re there. You can work part-time on or off-campus, and you’ll get a lot of valuable experience that will give you a leg up.
Utilize resources that connect you to internships and summer placement a well.
Not only does this help you get experience that will be appealing to potential employers, but it can help you learn more about where you want your focus to lie in your career.
If you’re still in school, start your job search well in advance of your expected graduation date if you can. Most companies will start their process of recruiting candidates in the fall semester before a student is set to graduate.
Most tech experts will advise students to start their serious job search in their junior year.
Whether you have a traditional degree or not, you might want to think about earning certifications, which can make you a more appealing candidate. The world of IT and especially things like network security are extremely fast-paced. What you learned in college a few years ago might not be all that relevant anymore. Fortunately, continuing your education can be both affordable and achievable. There are plenty of public and private student loan programs available to pay for your continuing education.
Certifications show that you’re always willing to keep learning and honing and advancing your skills, which is something an employer is going to want to see. It shows you’ll stay on top of your industry, and of course, you gain specific skill sets from certification programs.
Finally, be prepared for every interview. First, be prepared as far as knowing the company you’re going to interview for. Show that you know them, their industry and their competitors. Does it take time to research each company before an interview? Yes. Is it worth it? Also, yes.
In addition to company-specific research, be prepared to answer complex questions and be able to make logical connections between your resume and background and your real-world skills and abilities. You want to be seen as a problem-solver and a critical thinker above anything else.