A common frustration of first-time job seekers in the field of IT is that it sometimes seems like you need prior experience to get your start in the field. But how do you get a job if companies near you are all asking for experience? Here are some workarounds to help you get that all-important first job. This article is the second of a series that will deal with this topic.
In last week’s article “Entry level position available! Ten years of experience required. (Part 1)” I talked about doing an internship in order to get that all-important first experience. Once you’ve got real world experience, even if it’s only three or four months from an internship, finding a job becomes that much easier for you.
Today, I’d like to focus on a completely underutilized resource that we all have at our disposal: word of mouth. Word of mouth is when you start telling people around you that you are looking for work in order to see if one of your friends, family members, or acquaintances know of a place that is hiring.
Word of mouth is by far the best way to find work! There are huge advantages to it all around:
- You can find out about the advantages and disadvantages of working at a particular company before even applying. If your friend already works at a given company, he/she can give you the scoop on what salary to expect, any fringe benefits, the types of hours you can expect to work, and any details that may be glossed over by a potential employer like the fact that when you’re on call you can expect to be woken up three times on any given night. (Yep, this actually happened to me once!)
- Your friend may be able to get a referral bonus if he/she refers you and you get the job. Sweet! They help you, and you help them!
- Your résumé at least gets looked at. You’ll still need a kick-ass résumé and cover letter, but at least someone will give it a serious look, which is a better guarantee than you can expect if you’re submitting résumés on Monster. This is particularly powerful if the person referring you has a great reputation at work. (“Joe is one of our best employees. If he’s referring Jill and she’s half as awesome as he is, we should hire her right away!”)
So how do you start using word of mouth to get yourself a job?
The easiest way is to start by asking your friends and family. In the olden days, we had to actually talk to people in person or by phone, but in this brave new world we live in, you can easily blast a message to all your family and friends on your social media platform of choice. Simply create a post explaining that you’re looking for a job in the IT field and that anyone who knows of a good place you should apply to should let you know. Easy!
This has the potential to reach not just your immediate friends and families, but also one level beyond them. For example, your friends may have family members that are in the IT field. Even though you don’t know those family members, they may be willing to help you “since you’re one of Joe’s friends.”
Sometimes, social media and your immediate circle won’t generate enough leads for you to find that first job. In that case, you’ll need to leverage a different kind of social media: LinkedIn. Hopefully, you already have a LinkedIn account. If you don’t, sign up for one today! It’s free, and you’ll be able to start growing your professional network. People you know or work with today may one day work in your dream company, allowing you to reach out to them to get your foot in the door!
Once you have your LinkedIn account in place, start adding your friends and family much as you would on any other social media. LinkedIn will tell you what companies they work for.
Now, make a list of all the companies that your social circle works for and then visit each company’s website. You’re looking for the “careers” or “join us” section of the site. If you see any openings for IT Support, Help Desk, Desktop Support, or any other tier 1 support position, reach out to the friend/family member that works there and let them know you’re interested in applying for the position. If you have questions about their workplace, let them know you’d like their advice, and take them out to coffee. Ask all your questions, and make sure to communicate your enthusiasm for getting your foot in the door in the IT field.
If you play your cards right, you’ll have an ally in the company trying their hardest to get you into that first interview. Now get out there and talk your way into that first job!
With each post, I cover a new topic to help you get your start (or keep progressing) in your IT career. If it’s your first time visiting this blog, start here. Or, see all my posts about interview questions you should definitely be prepared for.