There are some common strategies when seeking employment in the high-tech industry. Certainly, if you have any personal contacts that work in the industry, don’t hesitate to call upon them! Many jobs are found through personal references.
Certainly, you must present yourself in a professional manner, beginning with your resume. Study books on resume writing for examples of how to write a resume that will appeal to the "high-tech" industry.
One tip is to make sure your resume includes a "buzzword" section near the beginning. This would include every type of computer hardware and software you have knowledge about, no matter how little your experience! This is an extremely important point. If you have any experience whatsoever (a week, a day, an hour) with a particular piece of software and hardware, be sure to list it in your resume buzzword section!
You should list the buzzwords from the most experience you have to the least. You can explain in the body of the resume where and how you used the hardware or software listed in the buzzword.
The purpose of the buzzword section is to "get past" the Human Resources department who may be pre-screening your resume to decide whether or not to pass it on to a hiring manager in the department for which you are seeking employment. If you fail to mention you have experience with HTML, because you think that would be obvious since you’ve taken classes in Web page design, you may not make it past the Human Resources resume review process. While you know you have knowledge of HTML and the hiring manager may be able to easily to figure that out, the Human Resource department employees may not even know what HTML is, but were instructed (by the hiring manager) to look for it in the resume pre-screening process.
The reason you put all the buzzwords in a separate section is to make it easy for Human Resources to spot the computer terms they are looking for, thereby getting your resume forwarded on to the hiring manager.
The body of the resume should clearly explain your experience with the hardware or software you’ve worked with or have training in. Don’t use adjectives or exclamations, for example, "I developed an awesome bookkeeping system that everyone thought was great!". Rather, describe what you did and what you delivered, such as, "Worked with the accounting department to design and develop a Web-based bookkeeping system. The system was implemented on time and within budget. There were no significant problems or enhancements required after implementation."
Don’t describe yourself in glowing terms, let your personal references do that!
If you have the experience or knowledge the employer is looking for, they will call you.
Always remember that the purpose of the resume is to get an interview. Don’t discount any experience you may have. You may think that you are not right, or don’t have enough experience for a particular job, send your resume anyway! Let the employer make those judgements, don’t judge yourself. It has happened many times, that a person interviews for a job they are not completely appropriate for, but so impresses an interviewer that they are soon called back for a job they are appropriate for.
Never lie about your experience. Your reputation will follow you.
In the business world, your ability to work with others is paramount. Your knowledge and experience may get you in the door, but nobody will hire you unless they think you’d be great to work with! Show up to the interview early, you may be asked to fill out more information in s Human Resources department. Be dressed professionally.
In the interview don’t pretend to be something you’re not. It is important to be the "better part" of yourself. (A skill most often employed on a first date!)
The interview is your "first date" with a company. Again, don’t brag about yourself with adjectives, but discuss the specifics of what you’ve accomplished or learned.
Don’t lie; don’t exaggerate (much). If you get a job, that you are truly not qualified for, the truth will come out and things can get very unpleasant!
It’s equally important not to volunteer "bad" information about yourself. Everyone has made mistakes, don’t talk about them in the interview! (Unless, of course, the mistake you made gave you an opportunity to perform a miracle that saved the day! Then that just shows how resourceful you are.)
A standard interview question is, "Tell me about your greatest weakness." Don’t do it! It’s a trap! Instead take some minor fault that you have and turn it into strength. For example, "I tend to get very focused on the task at hand and sometimes lose sight of some minor duties, like filling out a timesheet. As soon as someone reminds to do it, I get it out the way as quickly as possible so I can get back to work."
Be certain to listen carefully when the interviewer is talking!
Respond directly and honestly to any questions an interviewer asks and then follow on with any further explanations you wish to offer.
Do not be afraid of an interviewer, thinking that they are trying to trip you up. An employer has a problem to solve by hiring someone. An interviewer is hoping that each person that walks through his door is the person that will solve his problem!
While the purpose of the resume is to get a job interview, the purpose of the job interview is to get you an offer! While you may be competing with others to get a job with a particular employer, always remember that a particular employer is competing with other employers to get you!
Here are a few more strategies that you may want to employ depending on your situation:
Situation 1: You’re a young student just getting a two-year certificate, with little or no work experience in Information Technology
We highly recommend that you pursue a four-year degree, if possible. Otherwise, try and get as much part-time experience as possible before you graduate and emphasize that experience on your resume! Work for little or no money, if you have to; the important thing is to get some experience on your resume. If getting experience before graduation is not possible, talk to people at a private or college employment services agency. Get help writing your resume and study trade magazines, like ComputerWorld, PC Magazine, Business 2.0, Internet World, etc. Practice doing interviews with someone who has done them. Get books in the library that will help you with your job search.
Situation 2: You’re a continuing education student, working in business now but with little or no work experience in Information Technology.
Same advice as above, plus the following: Consider using the business experience you do have to get into a company that has a department that is employing people doing what you want to do. Find out if there are any cross-training opportunities. Make friends in that department!
Situation 3: You’re a continuing education student, working in Information Technology, but needs / wants to upgrade skills to stay current in the marketplace.
Also look for cross-training opportunities in your current company. Do work for free for the department/area you want to get into. Do several projects for them for free. If they won’t let you move into that department, look for another job with another company and place all of the new experience you gained on your resume! [Any company you interview with doesn’t have to know that you weren’t paid to get that experience.] Make sure you have a couple of good references within that company to back you up. Another strategy is to go out and do work for small businesses (part-time, while you keep your current job). Work for a nominal fee, but make sure that someone in that company will give you a good reference and that you place that experience on your resume! Never minimize anything you do. For example, if you write an application for a real estate firm to allow them to keep better records of their prospective clients. Don’t say, "I just wrote a tiny program that holds names and addresses." DO say something like, "I solved a critical business need for my client, by designing and implementing a client tracking system."