9 Networking Tips to Help You Land the IT Job of Your Dreams
While many industries are struggling to grow and providing fewer job opportunities, the IT industry is blossoming. According to Sageworks Analyst James Noe, growth in companies providing software testing, IT infrastructure, and computer systems design and management is obvious. This statement makes a strong case for those thinking of entering the information technology industry and those already in it.
Careers in Information Technology are booming, but there’s a catch
You might feel confident with your IT career choice – and you should – but that doesn’t mean that landing your dream job will be easy. With so many reports and statistics showing the room for growth in the industry, more people than ever are considering a career in IT. In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report stating that since 1970, the number of IT workers increased from roughly 450,000 to over 4.6 million, which represents 2.9% of the entire U.S. labor force. With the rise in technology over the last three years, we can safely assume that both of those numbers have continued to increase.
With all of that being said, there is a simple, often completely free thing you can do to increase your chances of landing your dream job in information technology.
Yes, networking. The tried and true way to land your next gig by talking executives’ ears off and handing out way too many business cards.
The importance of networking
All jokes aside, professional networking is still one of the best things you can do for your professional career. When done properly, it can open the door to new opportunities, strengthen your business connections, help you gain new and interesting perspectives, increase your knowledge, and build your confidence. The key here is doing it the right way. Here are 9 networking tips to help you land your dream job.
Tips for networking
- Figure out what you want before you start networking
This may seem obvious (or maybe not) but figuring out what you want to achieve through networking is crucial. Are you looking for a new job or career advice? Are you interested in a particular company or are you hoping to find a mentor? Whatever it is, by figuring out what you want, you’ll put yourself in a position to ask the right questions, make a better first impression, and ultimately make a meaningful connection. This is the first step to professional networking.
- Focus on the person and relationship
It’s important to focus on building up the relationship before asking the person for anything. At the end of the day, your connection is more likely to help you if they see you as someone they like, not just someone looking for a favor.
- Find out what you can offer them
This is a continuation of number 2 but look for ways in which you can help them out. Relationships are give and take. If you’re unwilling or unable to offer your connection something in return, they will be less likely to help you. You may be asking yourself, “What can I offer this person?” Your help doesn’t need to be technical or IT related. In fact, there are many non-technical ways to lend a hand. For example, if your connection works with an organization that puts on events, you can offer to volunteer in some capacity.
- Attend Conferences, Professional, and Industry Events
Attending a conference can be one of the best, and easiest, ways to connect with industry leaders. More often than not, executives and higher ups of notable companies attend these events as keynote speakers or sponsors. In addition, attending conferences can often renew your excitement about the work you do while allowing you to learn about new industry trends and insights. Industry events, such as local Meetups, allow for a more casual setting to network and connect with professionals. If you can’t afford to attend an event or conference (a notable downside of professional conferences is the admission cost), look for ways in which you can volunteer instead.
- Make sure that your online profile is one you’d want employers to see
In 2019, your online presence is almost as important as how you conduct yourself in your interview and over the phone. According to Careerbuilder.com, nearly 70% of employers are spying on candidates’ social media profiles. Now, we’re not saying you need to have an amazing Instagram filled with beautiful travel photos, but it should be filled with appropriate content that you wouldn’t mind showing your boss (or grandmother). More importantly, though, your LinkedIn profile should be updated with the latest information regarding your employment history, education, skills, and work examples (if applicable). It’s estimated that about 95% of recruiters utilize LinkedIn. So, not having a complete profile, or worse, not having one at all, you severely limit your networking ability.
- Use LinkedIn’s Alumni Tool
Speaking of LinkedIn, the business and professional-oriented social media company has its own handy tool for identifying alumni. By using this, you can search for alumni using keywords, position titles, and companies. Additionally, you can see where (and how many) alumni live in specific regions/cities, what companies employ the most alumni, and a bevy of additional information. You’ve already got one thing in common with these connections, now all you need to do is reach out by sending them a message.
- Use your friends’ and family’s network
As the old saying goes, you never know who knows who. If you’re not taking advantage of your friends’ and family’s network, you could be missing out on a great connection. Don’t be shy about your goals and aspirations; be specific about what you’re looking for and good things can come. Just remember, don’t take advantage of them.
- Diversify your network
People from different walks of life have different insights, thoughts, and opinions. Diversifying your network allows you to form a more well-rounded opinion. One way to do this is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. In order to meet people outside of your niche or industry, you need to do something you’ve never done.
- Don’t be afraid, just do it
All of the networking tips listed above can help take your networking to the next level. That is, if you’re willing to put in the work and get out of your comfort zone. Networking can be uncomfortable, tedious, and sometimes even a bit scary, but if you can find that one connection that can change your life, isn’t that worth it?