GO Wales top tips for starting your career in I.T.!

Work Taster 1

With a growing number of jobs in IT comes a demand for more skills. Resident GO Wales Programmer Ian Moss gives us his top tips for starting your career in IT and how to make the most of your skills.

Guest post by Ian Moss, GO Wales programmer.

IT is such a broad field, it’s often hard to know what area or type of company to go for.  I have worked in IT for 14 years and have worked for a variety of companies on a number of different projects.  I have found smaller companies to be faster paced, implementing leading edge technologies and much more enjoyable to work for.  Whereas the larger outsourcing companies tend to be  monolithic and slow moving as they tend to have large legacy systems to manage and maintain, but they tend to be better for infrastructure and IT management roles.  So depending on what kind of IT work you are after, it is definitely worth considering the type of role you would like and ultimately what kind of company to work for.

Coming from a software development background, I can only really comment on this aspect of IT jobs.

If you are fresh out of University, there is usually a gap between the skills you have learnt and the real world technologies that many companies use.  There are so many languages and frameworks out there, you will never find two companies using the exact same toolsets.  It’s very important to be versatile and a quick learner.  Have a look at the IT job sites and see the most popular skills that are being advertised and use that as your starting point.   Subscription services like Plural-Sight are fantastic to get up to speed on various subjects.  There is a monthly fee, but I think it is worth it for the depth of knowledge you can gain from it.

You might also want to consider professional certification.  There are a wide range available in different areas. This won’t guarantee you a job, but will certainly increase your chances of getting an interview.  It also shows you are willing to learn and improve your skills.

Furthermore, employers are increasingly looking for examples of your work.  Start to build a portfolio of work by setting up a basic website or mobile app.  Be prepared to talk through the architecture and thought process of development.  This can be great in interviews as you can talk about the work you have done instead of fielding random questions you may or may not know the answer to.  This is a good way to put you on the front foot, especially of you aren’t great at interviews.

Don’t lie on your CV as practical tests are very popular these days and there is nothing worse than looking a fool when can’t do something you claim to be an expert at.  Employers won’t be impressed.

Be wary of taking a different role in an IT company (e.g. support desk) with the promise of moving into development.  By all means take a low paid IT role for experience but it is very easy to become static and in the fast moving world of IT, your skills can become out of date very quickly.

With regards to social media, the first thing an employer will do when looking through CVs is check Facebook and Twitter to check out a prospective employee.  My advice would be to change your privacy setting on your Facebook account so employers can’t see pictures of you worse for wear in the student union.

Twitter though can actually be used to your advantage by creating an account and following some of the leading names in various technical fields.  Tweet about things you have written or are learning over time.  This could create a good impression on employers as it shows an interest outside of the work environment.  LinkedIn is a also a good site to create an account with as it is great for networking.  A lot of recruiters use LinkedIn to advertise jobs also, so it won’t do you any harm to create a profile advertising your skills to potential recruiters.