Elizabeth Varrenti currently serves as the Vice President of Professional Development at MATRIX. Since starting with MATRIX in Atlanta in 1998, Elizabeth has fulfilled numerous roles including: Account Executive, Recruiter, Sales and Recruiting Team Lead, Director of National Recruiting and Vice President of National Accounts Delivery. A graduate of SUNY Geneseo, Elizabeth resides in Rochester, NY.
Transitioning Your Career to IT: Start Here
I was recently approached by a job seeker in NY who was working in the Engineering field and wanted to know what he could do to transition his experience into an IT role. He was frustrated because he was submitting his resume to all the positions he thought he might be qualified for but not getting any results or calls back. In looking at his resume, I discovered he was submitting the same resume he had used to land his current job in Engineering to the IT jobs he was targeting! We retooled his resume and he is now well on his way to landing a Business Analyst position in NYC. Here are some things to think about if you decide to make this transition in your own career.
1. “Dress” for the Job You Want
You want to be in IT? You need to look the part. That means your resume has to pass muster with a manager hiring for an IT role. Document in your resume the technical environment you work in, the desktop systems you use, the software you use to write reports, and what IT people or resources you may have had to interface with at your company. You want to reframe your experience to read more like an IT person. This does NOT mean lying or misrepresenting your background but simply highlighting the relevant experience.
2. Do Your Homework
Network, read, network, read, and then network some more. You need to become conversant and knowledgeable in the IT area you want to pursue and build a network of IT people around you. You can do this by following the many tech blogs out there (just Google top IT Industry blogs- there are tons) as well as networking with local IT organizations and building your network on LinkedIn. About that - how does your LinkedIn profile look? Do you look like an IT candidate? Are you highlighting your technical experience in your summary? When you are retooling your resume, don't forget the other forms of branding that potential employers will be looking at.
3. Will Work for Food
It's all about the buck in IT. The CIO and IT Managers' directive is to leverage technology to solve business problems as cheaply as they possibly can. I suggest that if you want to transition to an IT role, you need to think long and hard about taking a pay cut and maybe even a big one. It is likely you will make up for it over time given the consistent outlook in IT as a growth area.
4. A Little Something on the Side
Don't underestimate the value of work you do on a volunteer, academic or personal basis to help with your transition into an IT role. I once placed a candidate in Atlanta who used the fact that he maintained the computers and wrote database programs for his large church as a springboard to a full-time IT support role with one of our clients. Maybe you write mobile apps in your spare time or do some small business computer support or PC consulting work part time. It is all valuable, and relevant if presented correctly on the resume. Just be careful not to make it look like you are shirking the duties of your current full-time employment.
5. Hit the Books
Go back to school. Take a class in the technology you seek to be an expert in. There is no end to free or low-cost online IT training. Sites such as Udemy, Udacity, Codecademy, and Coursera are just a few among many that offer excellent training from industry professionals at low or no cost. Check with your local community college to see if they have a course in Database Programming 101. Check into certifications that are relevant to the type of job in IT you want to pursue. Like to take computers apart? Maybe the A+ certification is for you. Strong Project Manager with limited IT experience? Maybe the PMP is worth looking into. I have worked with many IT clients that have hired a PM with strong, formal methodology experience and limited IT experience.
Everyone touches technology in their day-to-day work environment regardless of what their job is. Think about the systems you use at work and the areas of expertise you are establishing from an IT standpoint that you may not have even considered. Tailoring your resume and branding yourself correctly, along with some professional development, financial flexibility (and the help of an excellent IT recruiter!) will go a long way toward getting you in front of an IT hiring manager.