Getting Started in IT: 6 Ways to Build Your Resume
By Ashley Brooks on 03/29/2021
It’s no secret that the technology field is booming. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that computer and IT occupations are projected to add 531,200 new jobs between 2019 and 2029.1
But just because there’s an abundance of IT jobs available doesn’t guarantee that you’ll land one of them. You need to enter the job application process with a strong resume—and that means having the training, skills and experience IT employers want to see.
Getting started in IT isn’t as straightforward as some careers that have a clear-cut designated path to follow. There are many roads that can take you to your first IT role, but some are better options than others. Join us as we hear tips straight from IT hiring managers about how you can build your resume and prepare for an IT career.
6 Resume building options for getting started in IT
There’s no foolproof way to guarantee that you’ll walk into your dream job, but there are some tried-and-true methods for boosting your experience and building your resume in a way that makes employers take notice. Learn from our technology hiring experts to find out what you should be doing to help launch your IT career.
1. Specialize as much as possible
Many people will approach an entry-level IT job with generalist skills, but some experts say that having a specialty will help you stand out. “Specialized experts are always welcome in IT,” says Zohar Gilad, CEO and cofounder of InstantSearch+. “It will take some time, but I believe it is the right choice in the long term.”
Employers want to see job candidates who have a focused direction for their career goals. Choosing to specialize in skills related to a certain aspect of IT, such as network support or IT support, can show employers that you’re capable of excelling in the position they need filled.
2. Gain experience
Head knowledge can only take you so far in the tech field. If you really want to sharpen your skills and prove that you can hack it in the real world, you need to gain hands-on experience.
“Take advantage of every internship or part-time job opportunity in the field,” says Jason Firch, CEO of PurpleSec. “Experiential learning is the best way to learn the skills necessary to be successful in the IT field.” Even if you aren’t able to find a relevant internship, seek out virtualization projects you can use to put your skills to the test. You can even give yourself “homework” and tackle your own special projects that interest you.
3. Share examples of your work
Don’t hide that real-world experience you worked so hard to achieve. Show it off on your resume! And that doesn’t just mean listing relevant jobs and internships (although you should, of course). Employers want to see your work so they can evaluate your skills for themselves.
“As a tech professional, you must show real evidence of your expertise. You need to show how you can put your technical skills to work solving real-world problems,” says Paul French, managing director at Intrinsic Search. He recommends linking to an online portfolio in your resume or application. There, you can show off your past work and write a brief explanation of your work process and the problems you solved.
4. Showcase your soft skills
Technical skills are obviously a must-have, but don’t overlook the importance of soft skills in tech. Employers want to add new hires who are enjoyable to work with and have a sense of teamwork. Firch points out that many entry-level positions require customer interaction, requiring you to be “personable, friendly and upbeat.”
French agrees, saying, “Demonstrating top soft skills shows that you have more to offer than just technical expertise.” He recommends highlighting in-demand soft skills, like communication, critical-thinking, creativity and teamwork.
5. Build your technical skills
Of course, technical skills do matter in this career field. Most serious candidates for IT-related roles aren’t walking in to an interview with nothing but ambition to their name—they have a foundation of technical know-how to build upon.
The skills that are most important for you will depend on which specialization you choose, but there are some basic tech skills that many employers will be looking for. Here are a few of the in-demand technical skills you should brush up on according to our experts:
- Cloud computing
- Basic programming (HTML and CSS)
6. Get certified
Unlike many other fields, IT doesn’t require a four-year degree from incoming job candidates. Instead, most employers are looking for relevant tech certifications when they read your resume. Hiring managers want to know that you have the skills it takes to do the job, and tech certifications are a great way to show them at a glance that you have proven knowledge.
“Certifications are the gold standard in IT,” Firch says. “Your career path greatly depends on what certification you take.” The good news is that most certification programs take less time and are more affordable than traditional undergraduate degrees. Students in Rasmussen University’s technology certificate programs can complete an online certificate and be ready for the workforce in as few as six months.2
Ready to enter the IT field?
Getting started in IT doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right training and experience, you can be confident you have what tech employers are looking for.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook (accessed February 2021) www.bls.gov/ooh. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Completion time is dependent upon the number of transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.