No doubt you’ve read oodles of articles on how to craft the perfect résumé, and for good reason – a well-written résumé is often your first chance to make an impression with a hiring manager.
However, if you’re trying to land a job in IT, there are three other key ways to set yourself apart from the masses. Take these tips to heart – they'll also serve you well if you decide to start your own IT business someday.
1. Be a Nonconformist
The tech industry experiences a lot of rapid growth and change, so businesses that can't shift gears and think a little differently get left in the dust. If job applicants can demonstrate that they’re able to approach tasks from a unique perspective and potentially create solutions to problems that their employer may not even have known existed, it can quickly move them to the top of the applicant pool.
“Whether companies know it or not, most need that ‘out of the box’ thinker,” says
Rob Boirun (@RobBoirun),
CEOof digital marketing agency
PopNet Media LLC
(@PopNetMedia). “This brings in a fresh and different perspective from those that do things ‘by the book.’”
“The ability to approach a problem from a different perspective, or offer a nontraditional solution, can be a great asset in IT,” agrees
Vadim Vladimirskiy (@vadimvl), of the streaming IT service company
2. Prove That You Can Innovate
Vladimirskiy started as an IT consultant, hosting and implementing backup solutions for companies. But he was quickly sidetracked by fixing and maintaining their server hardware, which gave him the idea for his company Nerdio.
“Where usually the rules say to stick to the business plan, it’s also important to know when to flex or think outside the rules,” says Vladimirskiy. “Being able to do so gives ‘rebels’ a potential edge in innovation.”
Vikas Bhatia (@vikasbhatiauk),
founder and CEO of
(@kalkiConsulting), agrees that innovation is a cornerstone of the IT world.
“Technology in itself and by its very nature has evolved because people have always pushed the envelope or observed opportunities for efficiencies or to fix inefficiencies,” says Bhatia. “I myself am a solutions guy. I like thinking about solutions and identifying problems.”
As an example, Bhatia explained that he found scheduling phone calls took him four time-sucking emails on average. To eliminate these prolonged email exchanges, he searched for a solution and discovered Calendly, an online scheduling system that provides clients with access to Bhatia's calendar and allows them to book the time most convenient for them.
“If I wasn’t a nonconformist, I’d have carried on sending those four emails, so can you see there’s almost a tradeoff between getting the job done and evolving,” says Bhatia, who emphasized that this type of thinking can be a real boon for IT workers.
3. Cultivate Passion and Side Hustles
Show that you truly enjoy what you do, and a potential boss will take notice. Even if you're still in school, you can do tech work for the sheer love of it or freelance. Both will give you something concrete to talk about in a job interview.
“I still code on weekends, so I don’t know if I ever really left it,” says
Jeanine Banks (@femtechie),
EVP of global products and solutions at
(@Axway), who studied coding in college before discovering a passion for IT and product management.
Banks also says you don't need to wait until you graduate to start working in tech, especially if your goal is to run your own IT company one day. Banks started her own tech business when she was still in her first semester as a computer science major at Dowling College (@dowlingcollege).
“I started consulting at a time when a lot of small businesses were looking at what was happening with the Internet and websites and realizing, ‘I’ve got to get online,’” says Banks. “I looked at that opportunity and turned that into a consulting job. That was definitely a road less traveled. While others were out partying and enjoying freshman life in college, I was taking a full load of classes, plus building my business.”
When asked what advice she would give future techpreneurs, Banks responded, “Take your passion, take what you’re good at, where you have clear strengths and differentiators, and use that as the core of a business idea. I think it’s super important to just be true to yourself, but also don’t doubt yourself – take those risks and seek out resources to help you strengthen areas where you may not be strong.”
For more tips on how to prep for an IT career, check out "5 of the Best Colleges for Future IT Business Owners."
About the Contributors
As executive vice president, global products and solutions, Jeanine Banks is leading Axway’s innovation, growth, and marketing strategy. She is responsible for determining the development and go-to-market of Axway’s products and solutions and is overseeing Axway’s digital transformation. With over 17 years of IT industry experience, Jeanine has held product management, marketing, sales, and general management positions within technology startups and major international companies alike, including CA Technologies, Sterling Commerce / IBM, and Canon.
Vikas Bhatia is the founder and CEO of Kalki Consulting. Headquartered in Manhattan with offices in California and London, Kalki provides SecurITy ™ to small- and medium-sized businesses in a range of different industry sectors, including financial services, healthcare, education, and manufacturing. Vikas has more than 18 years of enterprise information technology experience with more than 16 years dedicated to information security operations, auditing, compliance, and consulting engagements. He was awarded permanent residence status in 2012 by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which deemed him a “person with exceptional ability in the national interest” in the area of information security.
Rob Boirun is CEO of PopNet Media, an online marketing firm located in Huntsville, Alabama, offering SEO and other online marketing services to local and national clients. He also founded the Reviewster Network, which is a review and comparison site helping consumers with their research for popular products and services.
A creative technologist with a mind for business, Vadim Vladimirskiy is the head honcho at Adar. Vadim is the brains behind the evolution of Nerdio, bringing streaming IT to the masses – that is, small- and medium-sized organizations. When he’s not continually pushing the IT envelope, Vadim’s at home with his loving wife and four boisterous kids.