Entering the Information technology industry doesn’t come with instructions. Many people are drawn to the industry by a natural inclination towards computers, electronics or gadgets. And others who do not have a natural tendency make a common sense decision that the IT industry provides a lucrative and secure career.
This mix produces a wide range of entry level information technology graduates both in terms of specific interests and the level of useful commercial knowledge and experience offered by the graduate pool. The challenge for individual entry level information technology job candidates is to present themselves as the best match from a large pool of competitors with similar skills and experiences. So how do the outstanding candidates achieve such a status?
The best candidates know who they are as professionals and where they are going. They demonstrate confidence, enthusiasm and knowledge in the field. Most of all, they show the employer that they are looking forward to contributing rather than just gaining experience. Top candidates have either consciously or subconsciously planned their approach according to the following three phases.
Phase 1 Research. Possibly the most important phase of all and one that is often overlooked by the greater masses. Understanding the different fields in the industry, how they interact with each other and why they exist is an extremely important aspect of a job application. Not understanding the entire industry when applying for a job is like playing soccer without knowing where the other players are.
Phase 2 Identity. Top Job seekers present a clear-cut specialized professional ‘identity’. If, for example, a candidate is applying for a help desk position his/her cover letter and resume should include communication and people skills, a broad set of computer skills and competent listening and note taking skills. Any other skills that are not relevant should be out of scope for the application. This filtering of skills and experience is important in order to help to highlight relevant experience and produce a focused application that does not require a deep analysis from the employer.
Any candidates who have completed phase 1 may also include background information that value adds to the application. In the case of a help desk analyst this background knowledge may include an understanding of the existence of service level agreements which are higher level documents guaranteeing service and restoration times for different systems. Understanding these agreements shows that the help desk candidate will have an appreciation of high priority versus standard help desk jobs.
Phase 3 Organized Documentation. There is no point going to a nice restaurant if you are not going to eat. Right? There is also no point working on an application that is scattered and difficult to follow because the hard work and relevant content is lost in the detail. The content in the application should be tightly associated with the job advertisement.
Completing all phases helps a job candidate to put their best foot forward every time. This type of attention to detail is what separates the mediocre candidates from the short list and is the kind of background understanding that seasoned IT professionals apply to every job application.