Believe it or not, getting your first job as a computer technician can be hard. The economy is still on recovery, so new jobs won’t be generated anytime soon. There is also an overwhelming annual influx of fresh graduates in an already competitive market. Therefore, you will see yourself competing with thousands of other applicants. Chances are you have zero experience, especially if you just got your degree. What is your competitive edge against them? Why should the company hire you? Those questions can be really unnerving, when you think about it.
Since looking for a job can get really frustrating, we gathered these tips, in hope that they will help you ace your first job. Some might take time and money, but we ensure that you’re off to a better position. Are you ready?
Google is Your Friend
You spent years memorizing and writing code, but you might not remember everything. Also, since technology evolves so fast, you might not have learned all that is new at school. Catching up with everything might seem just impossible. Luckily, you don’t have to worry, especially if you know how to find the information.
Google really comes in handy in this case, being kind enough to provide a table of usable operators, which help in narrowing down the results of your search. Most of Google’s search operators are usually placed before the search word or phrase. These can be also combined, for a more complex query known as Google dork query. In this way, you can find information which are supposed to be hidden in a site. Note that there shouldn’t be any space in between the search operator and your query word. For example, info:google.com will work but not info: google.com. You can also use the Advanced search option in Google, so you don’t have to memorize everything.
Assemble a Computer
Or you may also dissect your current one and piece it together again. Do you lack money? Apparently, spare parts are relatively cheap, so you can buy them piece by piece. This is one real life skill you have to learn. If you think this is way too low for your dream job, always remember it may come handy in the future. Your ability to create a customized machine is also an indispensable skill to have in this field. Other bonuses include saving money and the ability to build a computer that matches your needs.
Assembling a computer takes 2 to 4 hours, after procuring the right materials. It goes on to say that you will need basic tools. You may conduct painstaking research, if you opt to purchase them apiece, hence, we advise you to buy these items in kits, to save money and time. Nonetheless, conduct a double check on the items, including the specs. We will not discuss the step by step process here, but Instructable provides a good illustration on how to carry on with building your own computer.
Of course, you’ll have to manually install Windows (or the OS of your choice) on it. Repairing computer accessories, like printers and scanners, is also a must. This could be a thrilling experience for budding computer tech experts.
Surround Yourself with Capable People
The internet is also populated by thousands IT communities. You will surely learn from these, just by reading comment-reply exchanges on their respective groups. You don’t have to join, unless you have specific things to ask, and you can find information which can prove invaluable in your future job. Also, reading the comment section on reputable websites is helpful in broadening your knowledge.
It goes without saying that it’s also advisable to surround yourself with people who know more than you do. You will likely find them in trade fairs, seminars or in your campus. Never hesitate to ask questions, as long you know the gist of what you’re asking.
Test Your Computer
Well, regardless of your interpretation, this will be really helpful in troubleshooting problems. Opening the innards of your computer helps you in knowing its anatomy. Yet, what’s more exciting lies with the software components. Damage your own Windows OS, then try to find what went wrong with it and find the source of error. This can be fun, but be sure to have your backup disk when you do it. Lastly, ensure your experiment won’t affect the hardware of your PC.
Also, get in touch with new updates, download them and determine their functionality. Test their new features, whether they helped the system to really improve and if they are worth the price. Doing this will enrich your IT knowledge. Remember, you are likely to deal with the latest OS updates, once you start your day job.
That is not to undermine practical skills. It only means you should get a degree which you can mention on your resume, if you are looking for a job. Admission to universities is ideal, but this can be pretty expensive. Tech schools are located all over the country and they offer far cheaper rates. You may have a two-year diploma course in these institutions, and still learn a lot. Are you still not feeling the need to pursue higher education? At least attend a class or two. Finish your senior high school curriculum. After all, learning something inside the classroom is still a valuable thing. Or, you can take online training courses. They cost money, but you can find them within a reasonable price range.
You already have a degree in your hand and the skills mentioned in the previous tips. However, your employer needs a proof, beyond what’s written in your resume. This is easy to supply, but only if you already have actual experience. Hence, take certification exams to validate your competencies. In fact, an overwhelming 96% of HR managers include IT certifications as a leverage to get a job.
The CompTIA A+ Certification is one of the most widely recognized that entry level computer technicians may get. You will have to take two exams before you get this certification. What you must be aware of is that a CompTIA A+ does not come for free, as you have to pay $160 per test. Getting this certification means you get the basics of a Computer Technician’s job. CompTIA A+ is worth the effort, in the end.
How About Actual Experience?
Unfortunately, certifications aren’t everything in the rat race of employment. Employers are interested on the experience you had before applying at their firm, as well. That’s why you get an internship while you’re still in university. However, other applicants also have this on their resumes, so you might as well volunteer yourself for the job. Do this whenever you see an opportunity. It doesn’t have to be in a big firm. A small one will do. Working in an actual office gives the boost you really need in job interviews. Remember, you need to have an actual experience to put in your resume.
Start in desktop support if you want to learn the ropes of an entry-level position. Maintaining and supporting your organization’s desktop computing environment will be your main tasks. With this, you will learn how to install, repair and upgrade hardware. Your basic troubleshooting skills and end-user assistance will also be enhanced. Just don’t forget to ask for a recommendation letter from your supervisor. This gives you an edge against other applicants for the job you want.
Who knows? The firm you served as a volunteer might actually hire you in the end.
Never Stop Studying
The field of IT is always changing and there are always new things to learn. Do not be complacent at the thought that you learned everything in school. You should study, in any way you want, in your free time. Buy or borrow tech related books and study their contents. Many tech magazines entail the latest IT developments and some coding tricks.
The internet is also rich in information, just know what you need to search. Visit reputable sites as these showcase a plethora of tutorials regarding IT. You are sure to find step by step tutorials on specific topics. Lastly, reading online reviews of gizmos proves helpful in widening your knowledge.
Also, look for jargons used by people in this field. Build a network with other IT technicians, to increase your knowledge and unleash more of your potential. This way you will save yourself from asking unnecessary questions during your interview.
Develop Good Work Ethics
The other thing which is just as difficult as your new job is your ability to mingle with people. Trying to fit in and at the same time performing at your best can be quite scary. A strong sense of workplace ethics will elevate your goodwill as an employee. You are building your own career and it starts with an entry level job. Maintain professional integrity by avoiding wrongdoings. Work and beat deadlines, even if it means taking overtime.
Moreover, it goes on to say you have to work smart. A mistake or two is unavoidable, but focus on improving and note which are your strong traits. You will need these if you aim for career specialization.
Prep an ATS-friendly Resume
Interestingly, HR personnel also file your resumes to an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This software filters your resume versus a given set of criteria (experience, certifications, etc.). This makes ATS a miniature version of Google for recruiting employees. Use keywords that will increase chances for your resume to show at the upper portion of ATS search results. Highlight your experience, skills and other common things you perceive your employees will look for in a resume. They can be IT-related buzzwords or job-specific skills, so clearly describe your credentials. If you see a jargon that might be useful, include this in your resume. Highlight your resume objectives and certifications first, your skills can come next.
Moreover, it is preferable if you avoid using MS Word resume templates. Sure, these look very pretty, but they are also overused. They can be pretty traditional too, which may not suit your uniqueness as an applicant. Lastly, do not be afraid to have a two (or three) page resume. It’s not your fault that you got an extensive experience that it spilled to the second page. This adds more words, and it means more chances for your resume to hit on ATS. Just remember not to overstuff it with unnecessary words. It’s the HR manager’s task to unravel more from your resume during interviews.
Don’t Be Picky About Job Offers
Probably you thought an IT-related job immediately lands you a good paycheck. It is true that the mid-level and executive level positions are at the highest paying level. Yet, everyone starts with an entry level job. Moreover, you can always opt to leave, if you’re not happy with your job. You’re only getting experience there.
The median hourly rate for entry-level computer technicians is about $14/hour. Your yearly income ranges from a low of $21,000 to a high of $47,000. These exclude bonuses and profit sharing schemes, which add to as much as $6,000. Other common items included in your compensation package are medical insurance and dental plans. It goes on to say that overtime is also paid.
Your salary depends on the firm and the city you live in, with the latter having more impact. Nonetheless, the national average stands at $32,000. To be fair, most millennials having entry-level positions earn far less than these amounts. It is not surprising that job satisfaction for rank-and-file computer technicians is high.
Are these tips helpful? Voice your thoughts in the comment box!