How to get spotted for the best jobs in IT
Want to be the CIO of the next billion-dollar tech unicorn? Read on...
The IT industry offers some of the most productive, fulfilling and exciting careers as long as you have the right skills, qualifications, aptitude and attitude.
Talented people in tech can thrive in all manner of jobs; from designing the user interfaces for leading-edge mobile apps coming out of the hottest London start-ups to overhauling the IT infrastructure of national institutions like the NHS.
Specialists can enjoy a bevy of roles as well; cyber security consultants, for example, can find themselves monitoring the latest hack attack or working on artificial intelligence to bamboozle future hackers.
However, to get the best and most sought-after jobs in the IT world, you'll need to do more than the obvious job-seeking exercises like giving your CV a quick brush-up.
Get on LinkedIn
It may not be the most exciting or dynamically designed social networking site, but having a LinkedIn presence goes hand-in-hand with a sparkling CV.
Recruiters hungry for the latest talent will scour such sites; if you have a nicely maintained and updated profile, with plenty of skill endorsements, there's a good chance they could headhunt you.
LinkedIn also provides a good way to not only search for jobs related to your experience and skills, but also a platform to boast about your achievements. Did you implement a seamless mobility strategy that saves your company money? Then post an update to LinkedIn to attract the admiration - or possible jealousy - of your peers. Furthermore, people can endorse your skills and post recommendations, helping make you stand out from the crowd.
Highlight your key skills
There are a lot of things to know about the IT world, from server experts to DevOps scrum masters, so make sure you highlight what you are good at and seek out the jobs that play to your strengths. If you can make it almost obvious why a company should hire you from your CV alone, then you're likely to be ahead of the competition.
If you're keen to find a job fast, then approach a recruiter highlighting your main skills and examples of where you have put then to use successfully. Recruiters specialising in specific aspects of IT careers can help get you into the job that's right for your skills and experience.
However, if you feel there are skills gaps in your CV, then there are plenty of courses and opportunities for you to learn new abilities that can put you on the job path your after.
Network always and anywhere
The maxim 'it's who you know, not what you know' doesn't quite ring true in the IT world; you need to have a good wealth of knowledge to succeed. But networking has its place.
Many UK startups have regular meet-ups to share knowledge, get to know each other, and scope out what the next big thing might be. It's also a good way to meet your next potential employer. Not every networking event will yield a job offer, but it will help you build your reputation in the field, so when the right job comes along, people will already be thinking of your suitability for it.
Be ready to move
There are two ways to get to the top in the IT industry; you can work you way to the upper echelons of management by working hard in the same company for years, taking on the tough tasks nobody else wants to do and gaining recognition for making a success of them, or you can be prepared to move to find the job that matches your skills and adds more to them.
Paul Coby, CIO at John Lewis, had many an IT job in his pocket before taking the helm of technology at John Lewis. Coby has worked at the likes of British Airways, IBM, the UK government and On Air before reaching his top job at the venerable UK retailer.
And be ready to relocate, because if you have the right skills and start raising your profile with successful projects and endeavours, it's likely that Silicon Valley could come calling.
Many IT jobs offer flexible and remote working, so don't let your location get in the way of your ambitions either.
Keep on learning
Technology moves fast, sometime to the extent that there's a dizzying array of software, processors, code, standards and regulations that you need to be aware of. So do yourself a favour and ensure that you're in a position where you can keep learning. That could be anything from an evening class to a secondment to another area of the business.
Unfortunately, these days a degree and a little bit of experience is not enough to get the best jobs in IT. Companies big and small want IT leaders who are ahead of the curve and keen to embrace the latest technologies to spur digital transformation, so passion is key.
Many companies will support your learning and there are numerous hobby groups that embrace people looking to learn new digital skills, whether that involves developing product integrations for Amazon Alexa or find ways to hack into smart fridges, there a bevy of learning opportunities out there.
Be passionate about the company and its technology
Getting a good job in tech is about more than getting paid at the end of each month. Employers want people to work for them because they love the business, not just because they need a job!
In an interview, talk to the interviewer about your knowledge of the company and how your experience would suit the role you are applying for. You can talk about how you used a company's product, what you thought about it and if you had any challenges with it. Think about how you could address those challenges they may have thought the same and need another point of view to fix the problem.
Collaborate and Communicate
In the tech industry, you have to be a self-starter, but also be part of a team. Creative thinking needs to be demonstrated as well as the capacity to work in a hectic environment. In a job interview, it is good to have a number of examples where you can demonstrate a can-do attitude as well as showing off how much of a team player you are. Show how you overcame a problem and worked with others to achieve a particular goal, for example.