While many areas are still struggling, the IT sector has seen some healthy growth recently. And that means that even though unemployment remains high overall, there is a lot of competition to hire IT professionals.
In fact, the majority (65%) of IT leaders say they’re currently having a hard time finding the right IT employees, according to a recent survey from staffing firm Robert Half.
However, while competition among employers is high, IT job seekers are seeing a lot of competition of their own. A survey from Randstad Technologies shows that although many tech employees are somewhat satisfied in their jobs, more than half (53%) plan to look for new opportunities in the near future.
The bottom line: There are a lot of IT jobs available, and a lot of IT professionals competing over those jobs.
That’s good and bad news for job seekers. There are many opportunities out there, but now its more important than ever for IT pros to separate themselves from the pack. Here are some steps IT job seekers can take to stand out from their competition:
1.) Show off the right skills
While there’s a lot of hiring happening in the IT sector overall, IT pros with skills and experience in some areas are in higher demand than others. For instance, many organizations are looking for IT employees skilled in emerging technologies such as cloud computing, virtualization, and mobile app development and mobile device support.
IT job seekers should be sure to highlight their skills and experience in those and other key areas, as well as find ways to keep their skills up to date.
2.) Get certified
IT certifications are one tool organizations use to guarantee that tech employees possess those skills. These are the top IT certifications employers are looking for now, according to NetworkWorld.com:
- Microsoft (MCSE, MCITP, MCTS)
- CompTIA (A+, Network+, Security+, Linux+)
- Cisco (CCNP, CCNA, CCiE) Apple (ACSP, ACTC)
- Apple (ACSP, ACTC)
- International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (CISSP)
- Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
3.) Spice up your resume
Of course, all the skills, experience and certifications in the world won’t do any good if they aren’t showcased in a way to grabs employers’ attention. That’s why a well-written resume is critical for any job seeker.
For IT professionals, it’s important to tailor a resume to the specific job at hand, focus on accomplishments in addition to experience, and avoid cliché buzzwords.
4.) Use social networks
These days, many employers use social networks to find their next hires – and that’s especially the case for technology-centric positions. Therefore, many experts recommend job seekers treat their social media profiles as resumes and use them to highlight career accomplishments.
5.) Try a new industry
Demand for IT professionals varies depending on the industry a company is in. One industry that needs more IT employees: health care.
Many health organizations are adopting electronic medical records and other technology. As a result, providers, software vendors and other organizations are creating a big demand for IT professionals. Job seekers may find a lot of new opportunities by looking for work in that industry.
6.) Understand the business
With the economy struggling and budgets remaining tight, it’s become more important than ever for IT departments to align themselves with the rest of the business and only focus on projects that cut costs or boost revenue.
That means companies need IT employees that understand how their business works. You can help your cause during interviews by doing a lot of research about the potential employer’s business and demonstrate that understanding. Also, use the interview and your resume to highlight your business skills and situations in which you’ve had to apply them.
7.) Consider contracting or consulting
Lately, many companies have struggled to perform all the necessary IT work on their limited budgets. As a result, many organizations are turning to consultants, independent contractors, temporary workers, and other types of flexible IT workers.
A recent report from IT job board Dice.com found that the number of IT professionals employed as consultants is increasing quickly. And those professionals are often higher paid and more satisfied than their counterparts working in traditional, full-time employment situations.
Sam Narisi is a technology editor for Progressive Business Publications where he covers mobile, security, cloud computing, and more.