Jobs in IT- CompTIA A+ 220-1101 – 220-1102 – 0.2

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Jobs in IT- CompTIA A+ 220-1101 – 220-1102 – 0.2
Let’s have a look at jobs in IT.

What’s in this video?
In this video, I will first look at what you need. Nowadays, there are so many courses, certifications and higher education to increase your knowledge, so I will look at what it all means and what you need.

I will next look at getting that first job. This can be hard when you have no experience and they want experience. But I will look at some ways to help you getting that first job, even with no experience.

I will next look at what jobs are out there. IT is such a big field and there are so many different areas that you can specialize in.

At some stage in your career, you will most likely look at getting your next job. This may be in the same company or with a different company. I will look at what you need to get that next job.

Next, I will look at developing a strategy. Depending on what you want and where you want to get to, it is best to have a strategy. I will look at how you develop this strategy to help you get what you want.

Lastly, I will look at career pitfalls. Following the right strategy helps, but there are some mistakes that people make that limit their career. I will look at how you can potentially avoid these pitfalls.

What you need
To start with, what do you need? In today’s digital landscape, experience takes precedence. It’s often the top criterion that employers prioritize. However, there are exceptions to this, and I’ll delve into that later in the video, especially when it comes to securing your first job without a substantial track record.

Too much experience can be a bad thing, that is, you can be overqualified. Depending on where you are in the world the workplace will see this differently. A friend of mine was saying, until he moved to a different country, he had never heard the term overqualified. In his country, if you possess exceptional qualifications and are willing to accept a position below your true worth, employers are quick to seize the opportunity and hire you. In other countries, this may be seen as a negative. They recognize that you can easily get another job somewhere else and you probably will. They would often rather go for someone less qualified who will stick around. So, when you go for a job and there are better candidates, don’t start thinking that you won’t get the job, you don’t know what they are looking for. Better candidates don’t always get the job.

Now for the topic of certifications. The main purpose of a certification is to validate your experience. In other words, it helps support, that you can do what your experience says you can do.

If you don’t have experience, this does not mean that you should not get the certification. More on that later in the video.

A formal education in some cases may help you get a job. But once again, nothing is as good as having some experience. That is why I often advise individuals to consider securing a part-time job while in college or during breaks. Doing so places you significantly ahead of other candidates upon graduation.

Statistically speaking, having a degree in the long-term will allow you to earn more money. Of course, this is not always a guarantee, there are some very well-paid individuals out there that never went to college. If you have a job, it is worth enquiring if your employer will help fund you getting a degree. Some workplaces will do this.

In my opinion, in the long term, it is always worth getting your first degree. If you have a degree already and it is not in computing, I would not worry too much about it, as your degree does not have to match the profession that you are in. Once you get your degree, you are in the ‘degree club’ so to speak. A friend of mine once said, your first degree just teaches you how to learn. If you are working and then start a degree, I would suggest doing a degree in IT, but at the end of the day it is totally up to you.

Getting the first job
Now, I did promise that I would look at how to get that first job. To really understand what you need to do, I am instead going to look at what employers look for?

I have already looked at the main three, which are experience, certification and a degree. The thing to consider is, employers don’t look at these factors in isolation. Instead, they consider the synergy amongst them. Experience is often prized because it demonstrates your ability to apply what you’ve learned and navigate real-world challenges. A degree, while valuable, might be weighed against the practical relevance of its content. Certifications, on the other hand, serve as targeted proof of skills, offering a quicker route to specialized knowledge.

Employers will often seek a balance between these three elements. For entry-level positions, certifications and degrees can play a significant role, since experience might be limited. However, as you progress in your career, practical experience gains prominence.

For your first job, let’s consider that you don’t have any experience. People will often complain that they have no experience so they can’t get a job. This is not always true.

If you don’t have any experience, there are entry-level jobs which will still take people. Some of them will involve a computer test you will need to pass before you get an interview. So, don’t think you can’t get one of these jobs without computing knowledge. These jobs are often helpdesk or service jobs.

These jobs, in my opinion, should be looked at as being short-term. They are there to get some experience so you can get something better. This does not always mean you need to leave the company, sometimes you may be able to get a promotion inside the company to secure a better position.

Although these jobs offer entry when you have no experience, sometimes they are hard to come by and people may apply for these jobs that already have experience. Chances are they will get the job over you if this is the case. So really, the question you need to ask yourself is, is there something I can substitute for experience when I don’t have any? Hopefully this will make up for you not having any experience.

If you don’t have any experience, consider building your own PC and virtual lab. I had a friend of mine interview for a job. He later discovered after the interview, they were not going to hire him because there were other candidates with prior experience.

On his way out he was talking to one of the interviewers and mentioned that he had just finished building his first PC. He showed them a picture of it. This is not that picture, but just gives you an idea. He showed them pictures of a computer that he did an amazing job building. He put a lot of work into making the cabling management the best it could be. There was clearly a lot of time and effort put into building the computer.

They were so impressed with how much time he put into it and how good it looked, well, you may have guessed it, he ended up getting the job. They told him after he started, if he had not shown them those photos, he would not have got the job. If you don’t have any experience, consider doing things like this, so you can show the employer what you can achieve. Photos work really well; I also have a friend who takes his laptop into interviews and shows them the website he has built. He does not seem to have any trouble getting website jobs, so they must be impressed with what they see.

You may not have a lot of money to buy equipment, but nowadays you can do a lot with virtual machines and a bit of memory. Companies like Microsoft offer 180-day evaluation software you can install and use. Install it in a virtual environment, document it and be prepared to tell the employer a bit about it. You really have to sell yourself in an interview and if you have no experience, find something else to sell them.

You may also want to consider volunteering. If you have a local group that needs a website, you may be able to set it up for them. Just going down to a local non-profit and offering to check their computers to make sure they are running virus software and have windows updates installed will help. If there is a local free course teaching computing, ask if you can help out. Any experience will help you get that first job.

Getting the first job (No experience)
When you have no experience, you can get some certifications to show that you are serious about getting the job. Some employers even require their employees to have certain certificates. If you already have them, they can sometimes look at it as a cost they do not have to pay.

I have to emphasize that the key with certifications is to combine them with hands-on experience. Set up a home lab or do something that uses the knowledge that you have learnt. On occasion, I’ve encountered individuals in the industry who hold impressive certifications, but after engaging in conversation with them, it becomes evident that their knowledge of computers is quite limited.

This was a big problem around the 2000s when there were many sites on the internet that had complete dumps of exam questions. People downloaded these and memorized the questions in order to pass the exam. They got the certification but had no real understanding of the content and could not apply it to real-world problems.

These people may be referred to as ‘paper certified’. People in the IT industry are pretty quick at picking up on someone like this. So, I would recommend also getting that hands-on experience. If you don’t have a lot of money, purchase an old second-hand computer or find one that is being thrown away. Pull it apart. Try and fix it. You can learn a certain amount by watching videos and reading books, but nothing beats giving it a go yourself.

Degrees are good to have but cost time and money. A degree provides a solid foundation of knowledge but does not provide that real-world experience. Employers will often want some real-world experience to go with the degree.

To get some real-world experience, consider joining local tech groups or working on side projects. Seek an internship to gain hands-on exposure. If you can get some real-world experience before you graduate, you will be miles ahead of others that graduate with you.

Getting the first job
So, what else do you need to do to get that first job? Like before, let’s change the question to, what are employers really looking for? Have you ever heard the saying, it’s not what you know it’s who you know?

This happens quite a lot within the industry. Oftentimes, individuals will recommend others, even if they don’t have an extensive personal connection, simply based on their reputation for reliability. The question then arises: Why does this mean so much to employers?

Essentially, an employer is trying to reduce their risk when hiring new staff. They want to know things such as, are you reliable and worth the investment. When companies take on new staff, they make an investment in you. In some cases, they may not see a return on that investment for a while. This particularly becomes the case when they have to pay for training and other expenses. Companies don’t want to invest money on someone who is not going to stay a reasonable amount of time as they want to get their initial investment back.

Companies are also worried about what you have not told them. If you have large breaks in your employment history, a company will want to know why. Don’t be surprised, that if you can’t explain why you took a break, they will think that you spent time in jail. Companies really do think like that. If you took six months off to go backpacking, have a few photos to show them. It will make them feel better about hiring you. Try to think of it from their side – they are taking a risk hiring you. When someone recommends you, it removes a lot of that risk. You can understand why knowing someone often really does help. You can also understand why joining that local tech group or some other group also helps. If a person in the tech group works in the company, they can vouch for you which can make the difference between you getting the job and not getting the job.

If you don’t know anyone in the industry, even working on an open-source project or something similar can really help. Think of it this way, you want the employer to have a reason to think you are reliable and thus hire you. You also want to show a willingness to learn, thus anything you have done that can show that you have been active in the community will help.

What jobs are out there?
I will now have a look at what jobs are available. There are a lot of different jobs in IT. When you are starting out, you will probably get a job in a helpdesk, service center or as a desktop support technician. Although there are a lot of different types of jobs, most of them fit into these categories. These jobs may be referred to as level 1.

Once you get some experience you can start considering a second level job. These vary in how much experience they want. These can range from two to five years’ experience. If you have an entry-level helpdesk role, where you are on the phone all day answering calls all day, you’re not learning a lot and it is not a very fun job, so I would consider trying to get a better first level help desk job after six months to a year. If you have two years of just answering phones, they may want a bit more for second level jobs. Hopefully, you get a job where the company will let you progress to more challenging roles and you won’t have to take different roles with different companies to get experience.

Second level jobs are where things start getting more specialized. So, it is worth considering what you want to focus on before you get to this point. There are jobs, such as a system engineer, where you would be responsible for looking after systems like Active Directory. A technical specialist is where you start to specialize in one particular product or technology. For example, a role where you support one vendor’s products. With these roles you get excellent knowledge in a particular product and technology. Hopefully, having a focus in one area does not end up being a dead end. IT is too broad nowadays not to focus on something. Even with these roles, if they are not too specialized, and a product becomes obsolete or end-of-life, hopefully you would be able to move to something similar.

Second level jobs also include databases. These are specialized jobs where you essentially manage databases. Companies have very large databases, and the management of them can end up being a full-time job.

Networking jobs are where you focus on physical network cables and the equipment that connect networks together. If this is your thing, it is worth doing. With large networks that span the globe and get very complicated, there is a lot of room to grow and progress.

I have not included cloud, but it is something to consider. Nowadays, you can specialize in cloud technology. This is a growth area and there are many opportunities. Pretty much everything is getting put on the cloud nowadays.

Next there is third level. These jobs can vary quite a bit on what you need to know and how much experience you will need to have. Years of experience can vary from four to ten years. To get these roles, you need to have done exactly what they are asking for.

These jobs often tend to be your senior system engineer. These roles include management of networks like Active Directory that span across the globe and potentially include many different sub domains.

Roles, such as network architects, are people that are responsible for the networking of very complicated networks. These networks often span the globe. They include high-speed networks that form the backbone for places like YouTube. These networks generally have to have high availability, so there can’t be any mistakes. Thus, you want the best people working on them.

Getting the next job
At some stage, unless you are happy with your current job, you want to be thinking about your next one. Have a think about what you want to do next. As you gain more experience, and your career starts going somewhere, you will need to become more specialized. It comes to the point where you can’t learn everything. For example, you can’t be the best systems engineer and network engineer. At some stage, you are going to have to focus on something. If you are not sure, just keep working on what you like to do. If you find something you like doing, try and find a job where someone will pay you to do it.

Try and make some connections in the industry. This can be as simple as joining a site like LinkedIn. Not all jobs in IT are advertised. In a lot of cases someone will recommend someone else for a job. Or someone will know someone and will pass your resume over to them. Don’t underestimate the power of having some connections in the industry.

Lastly, get the relevant certifications you need, making sure you can match them up with experience. Some certifications will expire after a certain amount of time, so it is important to update them if you need them in your next role. Certification will validate your experience and it may be the difference between you getting the next job or not getting it.

Developing a strategy
To do well in your IT career, you want to consider developing a strategy. First, I would work out what your strengths are. If you’re good at managing servers but not very good at networking, I would look at a strategy that helps you become better at managing servers.

Consider if you have any gaps in your knowledge. When I was first starting out, I got an IT job where they used Lotus Notes, now called HCL notes. Where I lived, everyone was using Microsoft Exchange. And so, when I tried to get a new job, I found it very difficult because everyone wanted experience with Microsoft Exchange. Have a look at the job market, if there is something your company does not do that everyone is asking for, have a think about; is there any way you can bridge that gap.

Next, you want to plan your knowledge path. Certification takes a while to study for and obtain. Work out which ones you want to get. Think long term, if you don’t have a degree, have a think about whether you want to start working towards one.

Have a think about your personal branding. It is very easy to find what people have posted online nowadays. Consider how your online presence will look to others. If you join forums and make posts, this is a good way of developing your brand. For example, if you work with a particular technology, posting on a relevant forum about problems and how to fix them can help you. If you are active in a community, it helps to validate your knowledge of a given product.

Also, if you achieve something in the workplace, document these achievements, particularly if you deploy a project in the workplace or solve a difficult problem. When you go to job interviews, they will want to hear some real-world examples of things that you have done. It is not a bad idea to get some photos as well, as long as it does not break your present company’s policies.

Lastly, be adaptable. There is always new technology being released in the workplace. Currently Artificial Intelligence or AI is booming. Other technologies may become obsolete. For example, that software that your company has been using forever suddenly stops being supported. When this occurs, your knowledge of that technology loses its value in the marketplace. Start looking at how you can be adaptable when this happens.

You also want to keep up to date with what is happening in the market. Have a listen to some podcasts or other videos to work out what is currently going on. In a field as dynamic as IT, staying informed isn’t just a choice – it’s a necessity for remaining competitive, relevant and effective in your role. It’s an investment in your professional growth and the success of your career.

Career pitfalls
I will now look at some of the pitfalls that can limit your career, the first being lack of development. In essence, the fast-paced and ever-changing nature of the IT industry demands that professionals commit to ongoing learning. Whether through formal education, online courses, workshops or self-guided study, staying current is not just beneficial—it’s essential for a successful and fulfilling IT career. If you don’t keep up with your development, you will fall behind.

Having a lack of soft skills can be career limiting. Soft skills, also known as interpersonal skills or people skills, are non-technical skills that relate to how individuals interact with others and navigate various professional and social situations. Soft skills are invaluable in various industries and roles, enhancing your ability to collaborate, communicate and excel in your career. Failing to develop these skills may limit or stall your career.

Getting stuck at a job that is very niche in nature can also end up limiting your career. Although in some cases having a niche skill can make you very valuable, in other cases, if no other companies use those skills, yours won’t be worth much on the job market. If you then lose your job for any reason, you will find it hard to get another one or find it hard to move to another job.

If you find yourself in such a position, take some proactive steps to ensure that your career doesn’t become limited by the specialized nature of your role. Remember that the goal isn’t necessarily to abandon your niche, but to expand your skill set and experiences in a way that keeps your career options open. By proactively seeking opportunities for growth and learning, you can ensure that your niche IT job doesn’t limit your career potential.

Burnout can significantly impact your IT career, so you want to avoid it if you can. IT can be very demanding and also very high-pressure. Burnout is physical and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress and being overworked, reducing your performance, productivity and causing health issues.

To mitigate the effects of burnout, have a good work-life balance, do things to reduce stress and seek support if you need it. Unfortunately, when working in IT, there may be a lot of projects that need to get completed according to a fixed deadline. This may be referred to as “Crunch time”. During crunch time, you may need to work long hours, including evenings, weekends but hopefully not overnight, to complete the project on time. If you find your life is just one long crunch time, you need to make changes. You’re only human and you can only achieve so much.

Your career can also be limited by failing to communicate your value. When this occurs, less talented staff than you, will get promoted or get the job over you. To avoid these negative outcomes, it’s crucial to proactively communicate your value. Regularly update colleagues and supervisors on your achievements, taking credit for your contributions, and showcasing how your work positively impacts projects and the organization. By doing so, you not only ensure that your efforts are recognized but also position yourself for continued career growth and success in the IT industry. Make sure you also keep a record of your achievements and evidence them, such as with photos where possible, so you can show them in an interview what you can do. I have a friend with no web development experience who got his first web development job because he took his laptop into the interview room and showed them the website that he had created. They don’t know what you can do unless you show them or tell them.

If you job hop about too much, this can limit your career. If your first job is a terrible helpdesk job and you get the chance to go to a different job, you should take it. This is not job hopping. Job hopping becomes a problem when your resume is full of short-term jobs one after the other. When employers see this, they start wanting to know why you can’t hold down a job. It may be because you are just so good at getting other jobs, but when it happens too often, they will start to think companies don’t keep you because they just want to get rid of you. Once you get some experience, try and stay with that employer a decent amount of time. Companies also want to see a return on investment and if they think you won’t hang around, they won’t hire you.

Once again, make sure you do some networking. Some people love it, some not so much. If you don’t like going to corporate events, see if there is a local tech group you can join. Just do something.

The last thing to consider is what I call education overload. Although learning new things is essential in IT, don’t focus on getting more certificates or education without any hands-on experience or knowing how to apply it. Believe me, people in IT can spot the paper certificate people. IT people often test out new people to see what they know; it does not take them too long to work out if their qualifications match their experience.

I once worked with someone who had over ten higher education qualifications. This included multiple degrees, masters honors and a PHD. The job he had, however, did not match any of the qualifications he had and was not that well paid. This is where you need to be more strategic in how you do things.

There are people, however, who have a wall full of certifications and experience to back it up. These people live and breathe IT. I once met a person like this and, besides a wall of certifications, he had a resume to match. He was the real deal. He was the guy that would get the massive contracts to design large companies’ webpages and networks.

I met him back in the 90’s and he had just built his first house for himself and his wife. Being a tech expert, he wired the house so all the lights could be controlled from a central point, the kitchen sink had a thermometer to measure the temperature. In the 90s, having the entire status of your house accessible on a public webpage was considered a significant achievement and garnered widespread admiration.

However, he had not finished the interface to the house when he and his wife moved in. He had to spend the night entering hex codes into a controller interface to switch lights on and off. His wife almost divorced him after that night.

If you are that guy, you can easily back up having a wall of certifications. If you are not, just focus on getting the ones you need or the ones that will help your career. If you get too many certifications and you can’t answer basic questions about the certification content or apply it to solving real-world problems, you need to change your strategy.

End Screen
That concludes this video on jobs in IT. I hope this video helps you get your first job or your next job. If it does, let us know in the comments. Until the next video, I would like to thank you for watching.

“Picture: Inside computer” https://unsplash.com/photos/EOAKUQcsFIU

Trainer: Austin Mason http://ITFreeTraining.com
Voice Talent: AR Hellenberg http://freelancer.com/u/adriaansound
Quality Assurance: Brett Batson http://www.pbb-proofreading.uk

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