6 ways to get experience required by entry level IT jobs

I don’t get it! I’ve been trying to get an entry level job in IT and am being told they require experience? What do I do?

First, thank you for your question and take comfort that you are not the only one that feels this way. I have recently received a few other emails sighting the same frustrations and have seen this topic appearing on various discussion boards.

To begin, there are entry level jobs out there that are truly entry level and you should keep looking.

To your point, in speaking with other job searchers and potential employers, there are a number of reasons why it seems that entry level jobs don’t seem to be entry level.

• By calling the job entry level, employers can lower the compensation and then try to fill the job with someone who has experience.

• The employer, in good faith, may have thought of the position as entry level, but received resumes from people with experience who are willing to do that type of work at that salary level.

• Many entry level people applying for entry level positions have small amounts of professional experience, for example, an internship during college, a part time weekend job at Best Buy in the Geek Squad, or by having a small business on the side doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for friends and local companies.

• Some job descriptions are poorly written or purposely worded vaguely to attract a wider applicant pool from which to choose

• It’s possible that currently there is no open job and the company is trying to build their resume pool in anticipation of open future positions.

• The job may be entry level but they don’t think that you are right for the position and saying you don’t have the enough experience is a nice (but not kind) way of saying no.

There is another reason, not unique to IT jobs, but very often seen. Many people pivot their career into IT from some other profession. As an example, let’s say an Accounts Receivable Clerk takes a few evening classes in Java Programming and begins applying for entry level IT jobs working on internal accounting systems. Is this person entry level? Well, yes and no. It is entry level for IT, but the person has direct applicable business experience that can help him/her on the job.

My suggestions on how to deal with this difficult situation are:

1. Like the above example of the Clerk turned Programmer, if you have any non-IT business experience, use that experience to help you pivot into an IT job that could take advantage of your experience.

2. If you have recently graduated college, continue to look for jobs through your university’s placement office. Companies looking for recent college graduates know that the applicants have little or no professional experience.

3. Offer to work in the IT department of a charitable, religious, or other non-profit organization free for a short time with the understanding that if they like you they will give you a professional reference.

4. Try applying for jobs that say “1 to 3 years of experience” where you have technical knowledge and offer to do the job for less than the posted salary range. If they like you, they save money and you get a job.

5. Use social media to your advantage. Write a blog in the technical area where you would like to get a job. Also, become an active contributor on technology-related discussion boards. This combination may bring an employer to you. If not, it will help you expand your knowledge, illustrate your technical expertise, and tune you into the issues facing professionals in your technical area.

6. If your technical expertise is in an area that starting a small company is doable, such as PC tech support, website design, or SEO, then create a website and try to get some clients. The theory is, if you can’t find a job that gives you some technical experience, create one.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

This story, "6 ways to get experience required by entry level IT jobs" was originally published by ITworld.


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