CIOs: Current Skills Key for First-Time Job Seekers


What’s the secret to a successful IT career? To 50 percent of the CIOs surveyed by Robert Half Technology, the answer for recent graduates is learning new skills and staying current in the field. Seventeen percent said they’d tell first-time job seekers to take any opportunity that will help them get a foot in the door with an employer.

When asked to identify the most important piece of advice they could give new graduates, the CIOs responded:

  • Keep learning new skills to stay current – 50 percent
  • Be willing to take any job to get your foot in the door – 17 percent
  • Be ready and willing to work long hours – 13 percent
  • Join industry networking groups – 8 percent
  • Find a mentor – 8 percent
  • Other/don’t know – 3 percent

This makes sense: Many employers view up-to-date skills as a requirement for candidates—they want to avoid the time and expense involved in training. “Employers want to hire people current with the latest software, tools and trends—and these are continually evolving,” said John Reed, RHT’s senior executive director. “Employees who can hit the ground running with minimal training are highly sought at any level.”

Of course, that emphasis on experience complicates the efforts of first-time job seekers. So, RHT recommends they:

  • Find an Internship: Check with your school, or a closer one if you’ve moved, about post-graduate internship programs. Contact potential employers to find out if they offer paid or unpaid internships.
  • Explore Volunteering: Nonprofit organizations don’t always have the resources to hire full-time tech talent. Offering your IT expertise pro-bono can help you earn real-world experience while doing work that benefits others.
  • Earn Relevant Certifications: Review job descriptions to find out what certifications are in demand for the technology roles you seek. A simple online search can help you find out how and where to earn those credentials.
  • Pursue Project Work: Network or consider working with a tech staffing agency that can help you find part-time or project opportunities while you look for a full-time position.

The survey was based on more than 2,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees in 24 major metropolitan areas.

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