by Dino Londis
The job market may be flickering with signs of life, but we’re a long way from moving beyond this jobless recovery. Competing with so many IT applicants with loads of experience, newly graduated techs may find it nearly impossible to turn a rÃ©sumÃ© into an interview. They entered college when IT was hot – then the bottom fell out on them. But don’t abandon hope. There are opportunities to enter IT in less conventional ways.
Project Management is people management. It’s a difficult job because you’re the boss of the project, but not the boss of anyone working on the project. In that situation, it takes a lot of finesse to get things done. This is one reason so many projects fail.
A project manager who has broad training in IT can better support, say, a disaster recovery initiative at a trucking company than someone who is simply a certified project manager. By managing an IT project, you’ll also get a firmer understanding of different aspects in IT.
PM is also portable. Once you master these skills, you can take them to any project – IT or otherwise – in need of a manager.
Teaching may be the single best way to keep your skills current. Whether teaching in a certification center, an online university or the corporate environment, there’s no better way to understand a concept than to have to explain it. Of course this requires some additional education, but few things look better on a resume than teaching credentials. It demonstrates mastery of a subject, speaking in front of others, and a commitment to helping people.
There’s definitely room for quality recruiters. Although candidates often complain about recruiters, there are some excellent professionals in the field, and I’ve found my best jobs through them.
A tech professional with people skills can go far in this industry. A recruiter develops a first-name relationship with hiring managers, and can leverage that relationship when the market recovers. On a daily basis, recruiters see trends long before the average IT worker.
Litigation Support Specialist has always been a quasi-IT position in law firms. Paralegals typically drift into these roles because they seem to be the most obvious choice, but with discovery becoming more technical, cloud-based databases recovered and queried, lawyers need more than a diligent clerk who can outsource a hard disk. They need someone who can not only import a .pst to Concordance, but know when not to bother.
This position may require more education , but there are many upsides. There is no better place for job security than a law firm, and law firms continually purchase the latest technology.
I recently got a call from a Microsoft sales rep who declared himself the one-stop shop for all things ForeFront. Any questions I have, he would handle. I happened to be working on a demo version of Forefront at that moment and asked if there was a place I could lock down the registry in a FF policy (like Symantec EP). He didn’t know and said he’d need to get back to me. Then he asked the usual questions of my timeframe for implementation, if I planned to use it on Exchange, etc. As for my question, he never did get back to me.
A tech who knows his product would have gotten much further with me. A salesman at Webroot was quick to respond to my questions. If he didn’t know the answer, he had a tech get back to me. We bought Webroot.
No matter where IT goes or what jobs come and go, there will always be a need for white papers, executive summaries, manuals, and the like. Even if you believe like Steve Jobs that "people don’t read anymore," understand there is text behind all those moving mouths in audio and video. Writing extends to all areas of IT, whether it’s a how-to guide to help users understand new software, marketing materials for a Web site, documentation of corporate disaster recovery procedures or a paper on how leverage IT skills in non-IT careers.
Dino Londis is an applications management engineer in New York.