The jobs market in computer and information technology continues to flourish. According to research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’ll be a 13 percent rise in employment in computer-related roles between 2016 and 2026. That figure is a considerable rise for an industry that already has high levels of demand for skilled workers in areas like IT and software development.
The changing nature of IT infrastructure towards increased use of cloud computing services strongly influences this increased employment demand. Organizations and businesses will need skilled graduates to assist in areas like cloud security and implementing a successful cloud migration strategy.
So, how do you get started with your career in the computer industry? This article provides five tips for jump-starting your career in what is still a booming sector.
1. Keep an Eye on Emerging Technologies
Computer Science and Bachelor of Information Technology degrees equip graduates with a lot of essential and invaluable knowledge to prepare them for working in the computer industry. However, to truly stand out as a graduate, it’s worth looking into emerging technologies and seeking out additional certifications, many of which you can complete online.
Cloud computing continues to evolve and there are certifications available from many cloud vendors that can really boost your resume. There are several other technologies less established than cloud computing but with great future potential, including blockchain, machine learning, and Big Data.
To really get going in the computer industry and avoid post-graduation blues, graduates should keep their finger on the pulse and look to continually upskill in line with the latest trends and technologies. An extra certification or two can act as a deal-breaker for HR teams trying to wade through candidates and hire someone suitable.
2. Help to Plug the Cybersecurity Skills Gap
There is a chronic talent shortage in the cybersecurity skills market. Recent research into IT industry challenges found that 53 percent of respondents reported a problematic shortage of cybersecurity skills at their organization.
The skills gap stems from a huge increase in cybercriminals targeting organizations and businesses. Many organizations didn’t plan for the true level of resources and expertise needed to deal with this large volume of attacks. Furthermore, not enough degree programs include cybersecurity knowledge as core modules.
Graduates who are interested in cybersecurity should immediately seek out roles in this area, particularly if their degree has equipped them with relevant knowledge. The need for information security experts will only increase as cybercrime shows no sign of abating.
Immerse yourself in knowledge by reading cybersecurity books, getting beginner certifications, and attending cybersecurity conferences. Companies just want to know that you have the knowledge and skills needed to help protect their information assets.
3. Grow Your Network
Computer science and IT degrees frequently stress the importance of a strong professional network to prospective graduates. Getting ahead and jump-starting your career can be as much about who you know as what you know.
Platforms like LinkedIn are especially important for graduates. Connect with your former classmates on there and frequently search for jobs. Join any open groups you can find related to the computer industry and contribute. You’ll eventually build a decent-sized network that improves the chances of people recommending you for work and reaching out to you.
If you’ve ever internet at any technology company, make sure you reach out on LinkedIn to former colleagues. Ask for recommendations on your profile because they make you stand out to employers. You can also grow your network by attending in-person events related to your desired area of work.
4. Find a Good Recruiter
A good recruiter is an invaluable resource when looking for jobs post-graduation. Companies often pay recruitment agencies to seek out the best upcoming talent for them at no cost to the individual. Companies make this type of investment because it improves the chances of finding the best candidates for specific roles.
Recruiters know exactly which companies are looking for entry-level graduates and when they need them at different points throughout the year. You might have better luck jump-starting your career via a recruiter than seeking work on your own. However, it’s important to do your research and find a recruiter that fully understands what you want in terms of the type of work and the salary-level you desire.
5. Overcome the Permission Paradox
A frustrating source of post-graduation blues is the “permission paradox” in which you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. This paradox can quickly lead to a feeling of being stuck, however, freelance side gigs and odd jobs provide ways to gain and prove experience that don’t necessarily entail working full-time.
The gig economy is thriving in the computer industry, and it is a good place to start out and gain experience. Many small businesses and even larger companies often look for independent contractors and freelancers to work temporarily on specific projects. Freelance marketplaces are good sources for small jobs that don’t require much experience.
If the freelance world proves too hard to crack or too competitive, you could always work on your own personal projects and add them to a portfolio. This might mean building your own website from scratch or coding a basic piece of software. There are always chances to overcome the permission paradox if you think outside the box.
Getting a degree in IT or computer science is an obvious and important step towards building a career in the computer industry. There are plenty of jobs to go around and the statistics show there will be demand for years to come.
However, graduates need to understand that getting a degree is the first part of a process that sets a solid foundation. Jump-starting a career in the computer industry means constantly learning, keeping up with trends, growing your network, and looking for ways to seek and show experience to potential employers.