Where do up and coming IT professionals go to have their career-related questions answered? The Carrera Agency and UC San Diego Career Services Center joined forces to host an informational video call for computer sciences majors looking to break into the IT field. On the call, talent manager Gayle Steuckrath and Director of Talent Management Kari Cipriani discussed job search strategies for information technology positions. Additionally, students received answers to questions about LinkedIn, resumes, interviews, and how to prepare for the working world post-graduation.
We recorded answers to the six most-asked questions for you to review and share with others. Whether you are planning to begin a career in IT or a similar technical field, read through the following information provided by seasoned professionals.
1. Does resume length matter for technology professionals?
The simple answer is yes. However, regardless of position title, the quality of the content on the resume is more important than the length. Most experienced talent professionals agree that the one-page resume is appropriate for people with five or fewer years of experience. Many IT consultants, however, work on a large number of projects. In this case, a two-page resume is entirely acceptable.
Some entry-level professionals have multiple internships and side-projects to display on their resumes, which is encouraged. Condense the experience section by using a concise title and 2-3 bullet descriptions.
Another option is to create a two-page master resume that includes all of your experience and projects. Before applying to a position, remove unnecessary information that doesn’t relate to the job description. If you can’t quantify your experience with short descriptions, consider saving it for the cover letter, where you have more room to explain the impact you made. If you want to prepare for a job application, use these tips to refresh your resume.
Students and new grads, use this list of ideas to create your master resume:
- Leadership experience from class projects
- Technical skills section
- Awards and certificates
- Volunteer work achievements
- Club responsibilities — and the results
2. How do we expand our LinkedIn network?
The most effective job search strategies include LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn network is composed of people. Therefore, to increase the number of people in the network, you must engage with them (i.e., communicate using written and visual methods).
LinkedIn’s article, 20 Steps to a Better LinkedIn Profile, mentioned the importance of sharing relevant content from your feed, publishing valuable content, and commenting on others’ posts. All four of these actions require minimal effort and result in more engagement and connections.
Begin growing your network with family and friends. Next, consider alumni, fellow students, faculty, and staff. Most importantly, always send a personal note and briefly explain the purpose of your outreach.
Additionally, use the LinkedIn messaging feature to expand your network with valuable connections. After following the companies and groups that interest you, identify people within companies who have interesting positions related to the one you want. Then search for current connections that can introduce you to that person. Although a cold message may be your only option, a referral produces better results.
Writing a good message, that delivers a response, requires practice. However, you can use these LinkedIn outreach templates to get started. It’s crucial to remember that you must add value to your network if you wish to grow organically. Mainly, help others whenever possible, no matter how small the request. Eventually, other people will do the same for you, and your network will expand.
Another way to strategically grow your network is to follow up meetings and events with connection requests. Essentially, invite people that you met in person or online to join your professional network. And remember to craft a concise but thoughtful message when asking for the connection.
3. How do you transition into technology work from a non-IT position?
Transitioning into technology or an IT role involves finding the right people and the right company. Who you know plays a crucial role in finding the right position.
Once you find the position you want, talk to people who have that job. Ask about their journey and how they reached specific achievements. Next, identify your transferable skills and highlight them throughout your resume and LinkedIn profile. Most of these skills should match what’s in the job description — the right keywords make your profile visible to hiring professionals.
Additionally, find certifications that strengthen your resume and portfolio. Use industry news publications such as Dice, Tech Republic, and ZD Net to learn more about relevant industry certifications.
4. Do technology positions within non-tech companies pay the same as positions within companies producing hardware and software products?
This question is best answered with current salary data. Additionally, the truth likely changes often. Each company explains how they determine a salary, but most often, the numbers fall some percentage above or below an industry average. However, we recommend looking at current salary data available to the public, to compare average salaries amongst companies. For example, this article from Dice examines average salary data from technology companies.
5. What details do talent management professionals look for when reviewing LinkedIn profiles?
New graduates are expected to have limited professional experience; however, they should have a thorough LinkedIn profile with details. Talent management professionals at The Carrera Agency look for details such as profile completeness and correctness (e.g., spelling and grammar, main image, completed sections, keywords, groups, activity on LinkedIn, and certifications). In place of jobs and supporting bullet points, list relevant academic, volunteer, and personal projects related to the job you want, then highlight key skills in the summary section and headline if possible.
Additionally, turn on the setting that states you are open to new opportunities, a simple yet crucial way to communicate with hiring professionals. Your activity on Linkedin matters, too. Talent managers want to see what groups you associate with and the conversations (content) you engage with. All of this information helps them predict your fit with the company. Essentially, use your profile to tell a story about yourself and what you do, or want to do in the future.
6. What are the essential techniques or steps to finding a job?
The first step is to establish a process for applying to jobs. Create a checklist to follow and remain organized. This list should include editing the resume, submitting the application on Linkedin, Dice, or the company’s career page, identifying hiring professionals or common connections – asking for introductions, sending outreach messages on LinkedIn, and sending a follow-up message after the interview. You can add tasks along the way, such as follow specific companies or people on LinkedIn.
Next, employ the networking tips we discussed above (question 2). Follow companies that excite you, search for commonalities with employees, and send brief but personalized messages to hiring professionals and internal contacts that might share helpful information — information sessions or tips on how to get a job at the company.
Job search strategies aren’t complete without practice and preparation. Read and rehearse common interview questions asked by hiring managers. Resources such as Glassdoor, Indeed, and The Balance publish new interview guides regularly. Also, check the blogs of companies where you apply; look for posts with helpful resources to help you prepare for an interview (i.e., How to Answer the Most Common Project Management Interview Questions). Agencies such as The Carrera Agency are a valuable resource for IT professionals and technologists searching for work. We curate a list of the most crucial interview questions to practice and share it on the blog and LinkedIn.
Lastly, ask friends, family, faculty, and colleagues to conduct mock interviews. Gather questions from different blogs and publications and put your speaking skills to the test. Think through past experiences and articulate your contribution/outcome on paper. Practice talking about what you accomplished — and how.
The six questions answered in this post provide actionable job search strategies for computer science graduates and future IT professionals. Use proven advice from current talent managers to find the right position with the right company. As with most professions, finding a job is a full-time job. Give yourself the best chance to impress your interviewer.