Whether you've recently graduated from a four-year college or taken an intensive coding program, you're looking for an entry-level technology job to launch your IT career.
While graduating is a moment to savor, there are some important technology career preparation steps that should be on your to-do list as well. If you have not yet secured your first professional technology job, the tips below can help increase your odds of securing interviews with the companies you want to work for, and beginning your career in technology.
1. Know your target
Begin by creating a clear vision of the type of role you are seeking and your qualifications for the role. Potential hiring managers will ask and you want to be ready with a crisp response.
With that said, be flexible. Sometimes the entry-level technology job you're offered isn't exactly what you had in mind. Maybe it's an internship. Many young IT pros are hoping for meatier work instead of what they'd consider easy, or not very interesting assignments. Be patient. You don't get to work on your dream project right out of the gate. By doing good work your time to tackle more interesting projects will come.
Use your first job or internship to get your foot in the door and view it as a path to the technology career you want.
Be ready to negotiate your salary if you do get a job offer with our Salary Calculator.
2. Update your credentials
Most young tech pros have built their first professional IT resume at this point in the game, but they don't always give as much thought to their online presence. This can be especially important when trying to land an entry-level technology job since potential employers are very likely to look up prospective candidates online.
Is your LinkedIn profile current and professional? Is your Twitter content reflective of the professional image you want to convey in the marketplace? Also take a look at your profile photos on social media accounts and associated content to ensure they project the image you want potential employers to see.
Never inflate your experience or credentials. It's not a good idea for so many reasons, and it will most likely come back to haunt you sooner or later in your career.
IT humor: what not to add to your LinkedIn Profile.
3. Accelerate networking
Have you joined a professional networking group? If not, find a professional organization that will increase your exposure to the types of employers and professionals that you want to work with. Whether it's Women in Technology (WIT), the National Association of Programmers or the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP), find a group that mirrors your particular professional interests and get involved.
Here's another good networking tip for those just beginning their IT careers: Network with people who are in their first or second IT job, too. Most people focus on finding a contact at a much higher level than themselves (IT managers, for example), but getting to know someone in a more junior position, one that you might be interested in, could lead to an interview as well. A more junior contact might know of an opportunity or have some good IT career advice for those just starting out in a technology career.
Not everyone loves to network. Check out these networking tips for introverts.
4. Find a mentor
Find a mentor who can be a great career guide to help you navigate the challenges and opportunities associated with an entry-level technology job, and as you build your career. A good mentor can provide great insight and career advice based on their professional experience. Look for potential candidates when you're networking at conferences, seminars, business lunches and meet-and-greets.
Once you've identified someone, reach out via email (don't call or just show up at the person's office) and explain why you'd like the person to be your mentor. If you have a friend or LinkedIn connection who can introduce you, even better. Here are some other great tips on finding a mentor.
It’s a great time to be in the field and there are many career opportunities for recent grads looking to land an entry-level technology job. If you're still on the job hunt, I hope that you'll find these four tips helpful in getting organized and improving your odds of securing your first technology job. Good luck.
Use our Salary Calculator to find the starting pay for more than 75 IT jobs:
More Entry-Level Technology Job Advice:
- Women in Tech: If You Want to Learn to Code, Just Do It (Now!)
- How to Become a Wireless Network Engineer
- 5 Interview Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid
Note: This post has been updated. It was originally published on 5/1/14.