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Gamers Move to the Next Level in IT. Use YOUR Skills and Win a Six-Figure Job

Gamers Move to the Next Level in IT. Use YOUR Skills and Win a Six-Figure Job

Gamers and IT professionals are cut from the same cloth. Both are team players. Both are tech buffs. Both grew up “wired.” The main difference? Top IT professionals hang out in the boardroom, not the bedroom.

Many famous coders, network engineers, and developers started as gamers:

Gamers and IT professionals share similar personality traits. Both have a competitive streak. (You can’t play “Fortnite” without one). And the will to succeed. (Just ask programmer-turned-billionaire-businessman Tim Sweeney!)

There are obvious parallels between gamers and successful IT professionals like network engineers. If you game at home, apply those skills to a new job in the lucrative IT sector. You’ll never have to put down the controller!

Become an IT Professional and Use Your Gaming Skills

So you want to get a job in the gaming industry? This is a highly competitive field — there are 2.6 billion gamers worldwide, up from 100 million in 1995 — so you should develop new talents to improve your chances of success. One route into this sector is through IT, where you can hone many of the skills you’ve developed playing video games — enhanced coordination, spatial awareness, improved concentration, memory recall, problem-solving, multi-tasking, the list is endless.

With the right training from a professional, you can garner the skills you need to work in IT, as well as industry certifications that help you land your first job in this field. The IT sector is crying out for talented gamers like you. And you’re going to love it.

What you can expect when you work in IT:

  • No day is the same. (You get to work on different projects.)
  • The opportunity to transfer your gaming skills to real-world environments.
  • The chance to work with similar people to you. (Many people who work in IT are gamers!)
  • There are loads of opportunities for career progression.
  • You earn good money! (Keep reading to find out how much.)

As you know, there are lots of job roles in IT, including coders, developers, and designers. However, network engineering roles are consistently ranked as one of the most in-demand tech jobs. Network engineers are similar to gamers in various ways. Both have excellent hand-eye coordination. Both solve complex problems. Both plan strategically. (If you’ve ever played Civilization, you know what we mean.)

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FULL STACK NETWORK ENGINEER PROGRAM NOW

Take a look at this recent job ad from video game company Ubisoft. It’s looking for a network engineer, and the company will pay big bucks to the right candidate. As a gamer, you already have many of the required skills…

  • “Understanding of computer and console game networking systems and technologies” 

As a gamer, you have this talent!

  • “Strong communication and interpersonal skills; the ability to work as a part of a team.”

And this!

  • “Self-directed, focused, and detail-oriented.”

And this!

OK, there will be stuff you might not know, such as client/server models, peer-to-peer models, and latency compensation, but you can learn all this quickly. You could become a job-ready certified network engineer in just 3 months, even if you’ve never worked in IT before. (Or never had a job before!)

How to Move From Gaming to Network Engineering

Network engineers deal with various computer network elements and, in theory, video games are similar to these components. Therefore, you can transfer many of the skills learned in gaming to IT.

When you become a network engineer, you’ll optimize networking systems and collaborate with other engineers to improve performance. You’ll also:

  • Develop code.
  • Maintain network performance.
  • Enhance network reliability.
  • Improve security.
  • Look after data systems.

“Some of your other duties in the role of computer network engineer might include network modeling and analysis. This means you will have to analyze the particular networking needs of a business and determine which software and hardware solutions will suit them the best,” says Learn.org. “You will then plan out, install, and maintain those various solutions, which might include wireless adapters, routers, or network drivers.”

Do you have what it takes?

If you like to game, becoming a network engineer could provide you with a productive, profitable career. Plus, you can still play the video games you love. Some IT professionals still “game” outside of work; others play games at work.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FULL STACK NETWORK ENGINEER PROGRAM NOW

Why You Should Work in Cybersecurity as a Gamer

With the right gaming skills and experience, you can become a network engineer (or another type of IT pro) in almost any niche. One of the most lucrative? Cybersecurity.

Gamers and cybersecurity network engineers have lots in common, so this shouldn’t be a difficult career to move into. Ninety-two percent of people in a recent study agree that gamers possess skills critical to cybersecurity, such as perseverance, logic, and an understanding of “adversaries”. Moreover, gamers are more likely to detect cybersecurity threats than traditional cybersecurity hires.

“[The majority] of cybersecurity professionals say the current generation entering the workforce that grew up playing video games are stronger candidates for cybersecurity roles,” says TechRepublic. “As cybersecurity pros struggle to keep up with evolving threats, one emerging pool of talent may help organizations stay safe: Video gamers.”

Working in cybersecurity can be rewarding. Like in popular video games, you detect threats, help innocent people, and fight against the “bad guy.” You also get the chance to work with governments and multinational corporations in the battle against cybercrime. Just like in Fortnite, you can save the world!

Cybersecurity is also lucrative for gamers. Average salaries range from $100-200,000 — well above the national average — and hit seven figures for the highest-paying jobs. Without a doubt, network engineering is one of the best-paid roles in cybersecurity. Your mission, should you choose to accept it? To set up, develop, and maintain computer networks — and keep everyone safe from the baddies.

Becoming a cybersecurity network engineer (or network security engineer) provides you with as much satisfaction as your favorite video game. You’ll be responsible for maintaining the company’s WAN, LAN, server architecture, firewalls, virtual networks, programs, and more. You’ll be the gatekeeper of the organization. The superhero of the company. The Lara Croft, Sonic the Hedgehog, or Master Chief. (Choose your character!)

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CYBER PROGRAM THAT WILL HELP YOU BREAK INTO CYBERSEC NOW

You can even combine cybersecurity and gaming, and work as a cybersecurity network engineer in the gaming industry! There are loads of these jobs across the United States. (Not just Silicon Valley.) Check out these careers for video game enthusiasts:

WANTED: Network Engineer for Gamigo

Who? One of the largest gaming companies in North America

Where? Austin, TX

How much? $71-91,000 a year (estimated)

WANTED: Gameplay Network Engineer for Ubisoft

Who? Global video game company with development studios around the world

Where? San Francisco, CA

How much? $76-100,000 a year (estimated)

WANTED: Engineer for Electronic Arts (EA)

Who? World-famous video game brand, famous for “Medal of Honor,” “The Sims,” “Dragon Age,” and more

Where? Orlando, FL

How much? $100-140,000 a year (estimated)

(Information correct as of July 2020)

Ready to Become a Network Engineer?

Unfortunately, you can’t leap from a gamer to a professional network engineer without any additional training. Sure, being a gamer puts you at an advantage, but you still need the help of a professional.

Meet Andrew, a veteran, and father-of-four, who enrolled in NexGenT’s Zero to Engineer program. He learned life-long IT skills (and work-ready soft skills) from top network engineers who have worked at companies like Google, Cisco, and Amazon.

After he completed the program, Andrew landed a job at NASA as a network engineer, where he specialized in WAN, CAN, and LAN engineering and management for more than 5,000 nodes. Andrew negotiated two raises and doubled his salary to more than six figures a year, before landing a position at Insight Global, and then Riot Games, one of the world’s largest video game developers. He now earns $200,000 a year.

Perhaps you’re like Andrew. You want to become a network engineer (or another type of IT pro) but lack the resources and contacts. With the Zero to Engineer program, you get hands-on technical education, industry-recognized certifications, virtual mentorship, flexible learning, and career services all from the comfort of your home.

Final Word

Are you a gamer? Whether you want to become an IT professional in the gaming industry or another sector, you’re almost halfway there. With a little training, you could land the job of your dreams and earn a lucrative salary.

Learn About the FSNE Program To Break Into IT NOW Learn More about the Cyber Security Training Unlike Any Other

 

EXPLAINED: IT Job Security Clearances – An Expert Reveals the Secrets

EXPLAINED: IT Job Security Clearances – An Expert Reveals the Secrets

Everything you ever wanted to know about security clearance IT jobs (including sponsorship) but were too afraid to ask…

What do cops, members of the security services, and systems engineers have in common? All of these jobs often require a security clearance. So do network engineers, software architects, and even coders. 

The number of IT jobs that require clearance might surprise you. Often, it’s not the job itself, but the organization hiring you for the job. Database administrators who work for the military, for example, require clearance. Database administrators working for private companies might not. Most government agencies, who are super-paranoid about national security, require clearance before you even pull up a chair at the IT desk. 

One thing’s for sure: More IT roles require clearance than ever before. Nine percent of all job listings ask for clearance, and 50 percent of these positions are in the digital tech sector. A growing number of organizations require candidates to have clearance before applying for the role, but it’s not clear how many applicants do. 

Recently, in our Meet the Mentor webinar series, we spoke to senior cybersecurity engineer Dereck Watters, who provided us with some valuable insights into the top-secret world of security clearance. 

In this guide, you’re going to discover the following:

  • What kind of jobs require clearance.
  • The four different levels of clearance.
  • How to get your clearance sponsored. 
  • The different ways to obtain clearance.
  • How to pass a clearance.
  • Other insights from cybersecurity expert Dereck Watters. 

Let’s Clear Up Some Things About Clearance

A security clearance isn’t something you can pay for. Or study for. You need to earn it, the hard way. Think of it as a badge of honor. A medal that proves you can protect classified information. You’re a genuine “keeper of secrets.” Someone who won’t snitch, no matter what.

There’s a huge shortage of people who have the technical abilities to perform a job with clearance. But Watters tells us that, once you earn clearance, you’ll be made for life.

“You’re pretty much guaranteed a job,” he says. “Put your resume on Indeed, and a thousand people are going to call you.”

Because there’s such a small pool of job candidates with the required clearance for some jobs, employers are willing to pay big bucks.

“Once you get that established under your name, you’re pretty much guaranteed a position from the Department of Defense or the Navy or the Air Force.”

The federal government views clearance as a prerequisite for most jobs that protect national security. So many government agencies have been burned in recent years — data breaches, like those at the Office of Personnel Management, Department of Energy, and Department of Veterans Affairs have become commonplace — so now candidates need the right security credentials to preserve the country’s biggest secrets. 

It’s important to note that there isn’t just one type of security clearance, but four:

  • Confidential: For people that could cause damage to national security if sensitive information is disclosed without authorization. 
  • Secret: For people that could cause serious damage to national security if sensitive information is disclosed without authorization.
  • Top secret: For people that could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security if sensitive information is disclosed without authorization. 
  • Sensitive compartmented information: For people who could access information concerning sensitive intelligence sources, methods, or analytical processes. 

Once you’ve got clearance, you’re good for 15 years (10 years for secret clearance; five years for top-secret clearance). This means, in most instances, you won’t have to apply for clearance again for a whole decade or more.

There are a whole host of jobs that require some kind of clearance, especially in the government. Even if your job role has nothing to do with national security — “I’m just a software engineer,” you say — some agencies still require clearance, and not much you can do about it.

Some of the agencies that require clearance:

  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Defense Security Service
  • Department of Defense
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • National Security Agency
  • Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • State Department
  • United States Agency for International Development

Recommended reading: Why now’s a great time to consider a new career in cybersecurity

How to Get Your Clearance Sponsored

Unfortunately, clearance costs money — lots of it. It costs between $3,000 and $15,000 to gain top-secret clearance; however, the feds will sometimes cover the cost for civilian government employees and military personnel. This is called “sponsorship.” The good news: Once you’ve gained clearance from the government, you can use it for any job that requires it — yes, even private companies. 

Watters tells us there are four main ways to get your clearance sponsored:

  • Military
  • College
  • Part-time employment
  • Contracts

Military

This is the easiest way. Visit your nearest military processing center, and pick a military occupation code (MOS) that requires clearance. You can apply for this occupation, and the government will sponsor your clearance. It’s that simple. Just make sure you’re fit and healthy, and you have the correct scores for the role.

“You don’t have to do active military duty,” says Watters. “You could do the reserves if you don’t have much time. Or even the National Guard.”

College

Many colleges have government-sponsored programs that will pay for studies and security clearance. Sure, you’ll have to work for the government for a couple of years when you graduate (or pay a fee), but this can be a quick way to gain clearance if you don’t have the money. 

“Essentially, if you’re going for a STEM tech degree either in cybersecurity, system engineering, or electrical engineering, they will pay for your school, and they sponsor you for your clearance,” says Watters. “This is a quick way to get into a government position without actually putting on the uniform.”

Word of warning: There are specific time slots for when you can apply for these programs, so plan ahead. 

Part-time employment

There are jobs out there that will sponsor your clearance, but they won’t always be in IT. You could apply for a security job or a similar role and get sponsorship. Just look on Monster. Or USAJobs

“You could do this part-time,” adds Watters. “This gives you flexibility, and you get your clearance.” 

Contracts

Watters recommends that you look at how contracts are written for government contractors:

“If the government’s looking for a network engineer, some of the requirements are pretty weird. They will probably want you to have a CCNA, but they may also ask for a Microsoft server cert.”

It seems like a catch-all, but once you get to the interview stage, it’s a different story:  

“If you can hit some of those checkboxes — not all, but some of them — they might really like you and start the paperwork and clearance process. They will put the contract on hold until you are through clearance. The people interviewing you aren’t actually the people who write the contract.”

Recommended reading: From IT administrator to network engineer, check out our interview with Chris Mickinnis here.

How to Pass Clearance

Now comes the scary part. You might think there are skeletons in your closet, but your past isn’t always a huge deal. 

“We all have stuff in our past that we’re probably not too proud of but organizations are just looking for the things that you’re trying to keep secret from them,” says Watters. “Listen, most people think that because they smoked when they were 19, they are going to be disqualified. Investigators are not worried about anything like that. What they’re really concerned with is if you are a person that can be trusted with classified documents.”

The same goes for debt:

“They’re not looking for 800 credit scores. What they’re looking for is a person that’s trustworthy.”

A $50,000 debt in Guatemala that you didn’t disclose in your application? Potential red flag. A $4,000 debt for a TV from Best Buy? No problem.

“It’s hard to get people through the security clearance process because you need patience, and you have to have the honesty and integrity to put everything on paper. They are going to cycle through your life.”

How Long Does It Take?

How long is a piece of string? Clearance for government jobs can take anywhere from 3-6 months (and 6-18 months for top-secret clearance), and this process starts from the moment you turn in your Standard Form 86 — the document the government uses to “cycle through your life.” 

Once you’ve submitted Form 86, human resources will submit your details to the State Department’s Office of Personnel Security and Suitability, and this is where everything springs into action. Things will move quickly, at first. 

  • Someone will carry out a National Agency Check (NAC). It’s like a criminal record and credit check rolled into one, with searches covering your residence, employment, and education locations over the last 7 years. 
  • Someone will scan your fingerprints.
  • Someone will search the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigative index.

Then, you won’t hear anything for weeks. Maybe months. Eventually, a case manager will be assigned to your case, and you’ll be invited to an interview. This can be tough. The investigator will verify all the information you provided in your Form 86. Be prepared to answer questions, lots of questions. 

Where did you work? Where did you live? Where did you go to school? 

What do your parents do for work? Where did your parents live? Where did your parents go to school?

Investigators can check this information with law enforcement agencies, employers, and even school principals. No stone unturned.

It’s an exhausting process. 

“Look, if you can explain your background, then they are there OK with it,” says Watters. “As long as you can articulate why you have that much money, or why your wife is from there or husband from there, it’s fine.” 

After your interview, the investigator will weigh your results against security clearance guidelines. You’ll be notified of your results in the mail.

Now you play the waiting game.

Ask a Security Expert

In our Meet the Mentor webinar with Derick Watters, our students had some security clearance questions of their own…

How does a veteran get inside info about Department of Defense contracts?

“The biggest one is definitely word of mouth. If you see anyone on LinkedIn, just talk to them. Ask about open positions. Ask about clearance. Ask about sponsorship.”

What happens at the end of federal contracts?

“When the contract ends, they have to let you know. They have to discuss it with you up-front during the interview. Of course, you have to look for another position if the contract ends, but they need people with clearance so bad they will often keep you.”

What’s the most difficult thing about the clearance process?

“I have to get checked every 5 years. You know, sit down with somebody to explain why I bought a new house or car. I have to put my wife’s name down so she can get checked. Tell them about my family members. You have to get used to giving up a little bit of your privacy.”

Want to become a cybersecurity specialist in as little as 400 hours? Our technical skills, foundational concepts, and hands-on labs will land you that entry-level cybersecurity role you’ve dreamed about. Apply now

Exclusive Interview Tips from an Amazon Cybersecurity Solutions Architect

Exclusive Interview Tips from an Amazon Cybersecurity Solutions Architect

Anthony Nguyen, a Security Solutions Architect at Amazon, spoke with Sam Stuber from the NexGenT Career Services team about his career in IT and cybersecurity. At the end of the interview, students had the chance to ask him success questions. 

While the exclusive hour-long interview for NexGenT students was packed with helpful tips where Anthony shares about his own experience, this condensed highlight real offers a plethora of brilliant job searching tips.

In this insightful interview, Anthony shares the following things:

  • Triumphant steps Anthony took to get where he is at Amazon
  • How failures can be opportunities
  • Bots vs. people reviewing resumes and how to optimize for IT and cybersecurity
  • The IT hiring process, both technical and non-technical, and what you should know to prepare yourself
  • Sample interview questions
  • What to do when you don’t know the answer to an interview question
  • What hiring managers are looking for, including the T shape career development model
Interested in starting a cybersecurity career of your own? Click here to get trained in 6 months.

Additionally, here are some of the amazing resources that Anthony mentions and references:

  • How to Interview at Amazon: While this guide is specifically written by Amazon, for Amazon job seekers, it’s extremely applicable for any job you are preparing for. Included are sections on behavioral-based interviewing, the STAR answer format, tips for great interview answers https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/in-person-interview
  • 101 Cybersecurity Slides: While Anthony took the time to share exclusive knowledge with NexGenT students, he has also mentored students in the past at places like UC Irvine. He shared with us the slides he uses to help students understand the different paths into IT and cybersecurity. Link to InfoSec 101: How to be a Cybersecurity Expert Slides Here
  • Coding Interviews & Challenges: Use websites like Leet Code to help you enhance your skills and prepare for technical IT interviews.

Ready to reach out to technical IT recruiters? Check out our step-by-step guide with email templates.

The ULTIMATE GUIDE to reach out to technical recruiters and make them want to help you

The ULTIMATE GUIDE to reach out to technical recruiters and make them want to help you

Reaching out to technical recruiters, besides a few things here and there, should be approached the same way as reaching out to any other person. By default, this requires an understanding of people’s natural responses to certain stimuli.

It might not seem as complicated as configuring a network with a bunch of branches from scratch or automating failover for disaster recovery, but how to deal with and influence people is quite a science too!

Believe it or not, a huge part of the success of public relations companies, politicians, CEO’s, managers, etc. comes from knowing how to awaken an eager interest and want in other people. When reaching out to technical recruiters, this should be your goal. You want to get them excited or curious about speaking to you, and you want to give them a very good reason to do so.

Download our free 5 step guide to becoming a Network Engineer

This is not that hard. In fact, the method I’m about to teach you might sound way too simple. Yet, public relations firms have been using it for years for one reason: it actually works!

So, without any further ado, here’s the ultimate guide to reaching out to the best technical recruiters (or any important person really) and make them want to talk to you even if you suck at writing:

Step 1: Do your research, don’t be lazy

 

Nowadays, there are recruiters for all kinds of jobs. Even in IT, there are technical recruiters who specialize in different roles and career stages. Technical recruiters need to find candidates to keep their job, so they won’t be annoyed about having too many candidates to choose from.

That said, it is critical that you’re reaching out to the right kind of recruiter. Otherwise you’re most likely going to get ignored and/or waste your time. Make sure you research what kind of jobs they usually look to fill and what career stage/s they focus on.

For example, if you’re a soon-to-be graduate looking for an internship don’t contact technical recruiters who usually hire for positions with more seniority. This can be easily done by reading over technical recruiters’ profiles on a couple of social media platforms.

You must realize that everybody else knows that technical recruiters  are constantly looking for candidates so they are probably getting a ton of messages and contact requests every day. That said, they might check them out, but will only pay attention to the ones relevant to them.

 

Step 2: (Message #1) Make them feel important/appreciated by asking a very thoughtful and/or considerate question

 

According to some of the most renowned thinkers of human history, one of the key characteristics of human nature is that of having a desire to be great and feel important. We all want to feel like we matter and that we are appreciated.

If you keep this in mind, you will be able to catch anyone’s attention just by tapping into their self-interested being. A great, if not the best way to do it, is by giving a person a high reputation to live up to and, very subtly, asking him/her to back it up.

You can easily apply this principle by asking them a thoughtful and/or considerate question that only an experienced professional could answer. Thus, implying they are an expert and making them feel important. I must admit this can be a little tricky but with a little bit of research you’ll be able to come up with a good and unique question to ask.

Nonetheless, you can’t just ask any question bluntly before setting up the stage for yourself. Once you come up with a good question, follow the structure of this template to write your message (don’t worry if they don’t reply to your first message. You must be persistent. That said, you must do it the right way. You don’t want to annoy anyone).

Note: check technical recruiters LinkedIn summaries. Sometimes they write long paragraphs describing themselves, what they do, and many other things that can give you a baseline to come up with a good-unique question.

Hey [name]

I know technical recruiters have to work very hard to find the best candidates, and that sometimes people complicate things for them. (notice how sympathetic this first sentence is)

You’re obviously an expert in your profession so I wanted to ask you a question: [insert question] (needless to say, you’re telling them that you think they are an expert, making them feel important).

I’m just trying to get a sense of what to do to prepare better for when I look to break into IT in the future. (Sincere reason for you to reach out. However, notice you’re not asking him to check your resume or consider you at all).

Hope you’re having a great day!  

[your first name]

 

Step 3: Selflessly provide something of value to them

 

Obviously your expertise is in IT, not in IT recruiting, so providing value to technical recruiters might be very tricky. However, keep in mind that many times, what matters the most is your intention. Good people will always appreciate good intentions.  

To do this, you must first understand the struggle that technical recruiters go through to find good candidates (read this article to get a good idea). Knowing the hardest part about their job, look for up-to-date tools/resources that can make technical recruiters’ lives easier.

You’ll probably have a hard time finding something they don’t already know of. Nonetheless, you’ll still be able to have the desired effect on them by going out of your way to selflessly help him or her out. Depending on whether the recruiter replies to your first message or not you’ll want to approach the second message differently.

Template 1 (if no reply to first message)

Hey [name]

I know people sometimes make your job harder by [insert pain point/frustrating action].

You probably already know this but if you use [link/name of solution] you’ll be able to fix/avoid having to put up with it. Anyways, just thought it could be of a lot of help to you.

Best,

[your first name]

P.S. Quick question: do you know why so many recruiters struggle to find candidates? It seems there are way too many people looking for jobs for that to be the case.

Template 2 (if he/she replied to your first message)

Note: keep in mind you asked a question on the first message so he/she should have replied with an answer to your question.

Hey [name]

[Address their reply, thank them for their advice if applicable]

Ex: Thank you for taking the time to reply and for giving me valuable advice, [recruiter’s name].

[Agree with whatever they said. Then lead the conversation towards one of their main pain points/frustrations (listed in the article linked above)]

Ex: I agree, too many people have too little hands-on experience and think that they are ready to break into a job and add value to companies only because they got one or two certs.

[Offer your solution starting with “You probably already know this but…[insert solution].”

Ex: You probably already know this, but there’s this entry/associate level certification where people have to prove themselves using up-to-date networking equipment and performing real world tasks. Zero written testing!

[close by wishing him/her a good day or with some form of goodwill]

Ex: Maybe this can make your job easier? Anyways, just thought it could be of a lot of help to you.

Thanks again,

[your first name]

Step 4: Ask them to check out your profile

 

Needless to say, even before you send them the very first message you need to make sure your profile is on point (you never know if they decide to check you out simply because they got a notification saying you viewed their profile). Likewise, try to figure out if the technical recruiters you’re reaching out to have gotten people hired for jobs similar to the ones you’re looking for.

Once you’ve provided value in any way, you can move on to make your request. Don’t hold back when doing so. Reach out to them like if you were 100% sure that they will like what they are going to see.

Keep in mind that you must make sure the recruiter’s job involves filling the particular position you’d like to land. Also, understand they might not be looking to place people at the moment. Yet, it is likely that they will in the near future. Anyway, regardless of what the case is, it is good to form relationships with as many technical recruiters as you can. You never know when they will come in handy.

Template 1

Hey [name]

Could you please check out my profile? I’m pretty sure I can help you fill one of your positions fast, and perform very well in it.

Best!

[your name]

Template 2

Hey [name],

I just got certified in-person by former IT Air force Instructors and Cisco systems engineers, and I’m ready to break into a job as a [insert job title].

Could you please check out my profile?

Best!

[your name]

Note: don’t be afraid to send another message after this one if they don’t reply to your initial request. There’s nothing wrong with following up!

Follow these guide and you will eventually be able to form relationships and get job offers from technical recruiters who work for great tech companies. Next step, make sure you know how to write cover letters and resumes that work in your favor.

The Secret Formula To Writing Mouthwatering Resumes And Cover Letters Like A Pro

The Secret Formula To Writing Mouthwatering Resumes And Cover Letters Like A Pro

Search online and you’ll find a ton of places saying that writing a good cover letter and resume is essential to getting a job, which for the most part, is true.

However, you’ll find people telling you that you should include “this and that” yet, the vast majority seem to leave out the most important thing about cover letters and resumes…

Do you want to know what that is?

It is the fact that your one and only goal, when writing a cover letter and a resume, is to sell yourself as a benefit to companies. Why? Because that is the only thing they care about!

Companies are run by normal people who are not too different from you and I. Silly right? Well, if you know a little bit about human nature you’ll know that us humans are, at its simplest, astonishingly self-interested.

If you put a company’s interests ahead of yours, and truly try to come across as if their priorities, wants and needs were more important than your own, you’ll find yourself writing the best cover letter and resume that there is to write.

Your expertise is in IT. So I don’t pretend for you to read this guide and become an expert at writing cover letters and resumes. Hence, I’ve added a few detailed examples.   

Related: The Growing Gap Between Education & Unemployment

But, before you scroll down to the bottom and start submitting applications, know that understanding the thought process that goes into writing a great cover letter and resume will help you in many aspects as you move through your career.

Cover Letters

In a nutshell, they should be used to:

  1. Address the company’s needs and wants (and long-term goals if applicable)
  2. Explain how you would add value to the organization
  3. Add a call to action

Let’s break them down one by one…  

Address the company’s needs and wants

Before getting someone interested in you, you must first understand what is it that they want and/or need so that you can offer it to them. That can be tricky. But…

Every single company out there needs to make sure that their total expenses are lower than their total revenue so they can turn in a profit; and, every single company wants to hire good people who can get along with existing employees.

That’s it. Simple, right?

With this said, if you’re applying for a highly competitive role you need to take it a step further by doing some research on the company’s market, competitors, ongoing/new trends, mission & vision, etc. so you can figure out their long-term goal and address it in your letter.

Explain how you would add value to the organization

Your cover letter should not be too long. In fact, it should only be a few paragraphs. So there’s no need to write exactly how you can provide value to the organization. That’s what your resume is for.

Nonetheless, you do need to state in a very brief and concise way, why it is that hiring you can help the company achieve and/or move closer to its goals.

This will allow you to be perceived as someone who can be an asset to the company rather than just one more employee.

Add a call to action

Essentially all you’re doing during the hiring process, from the moment you send your application to when you get hired, is selling yourself.

So think about your cover letter as the beginning of the process. You obviously want to invite your “buyer” to learn more about what you can do for them, don’t you?

You could incorporate a call to action in the same section where you talk about how you can add value to the organization. This way, you can keep your cover letter short.

Here’s an example of one of the best cover letters I’ve ever read:

Note: it is taken from the book How To Win Friends And Influence People. It’s a classic so the language might sound a little out of date.

Dear sir:

My ten years of bank experience should be of interest to a rapidly growing bank like yours.

In various capacities in bank operations with the Bankers Trust Company in New York, leading to my present assignment as a Branch Manager, I have acquired skills in all phases of banking including depositor relations, credits, loans and administration.

I will be relocating to Phoenix in May and I am sure that I can contribute to your growth and profit. I will be in Phoenix the week of April 3 and would appreciate the opportunity to show you how I can help your bank meet its goals,

                                                                             Sincerely,

                                                                             Barbara L. Anderson

Do you find anything odd about this letter?

Notice how the company and the hiring manager are the entire focus of it? Obviously she needs a job because she’s moving to Phoenix, but she doesn’t even mention that. Her focus is on positioning herself as a benefit!

Although writing the exact kind of letter might not do much for you for whatever reason, you could easily apply the same underlying strategy used on this example.

Here’s a template you could use as a reference:

Dear [whoever you’re addressing]:

Over the past [insert time] I’ve built a set of skills as a [insert role/industry] that should be of interest to a [compliment company].  

Over the past 2 years I’ve built a set of skills as a network technician that should be of interest to a growing company like yours.

My experience working in [broad area #1, #2 and/or #3], added to [your soft skills] make me a great fit to join your team as [title of job].

My experience in routing and switching, added to my ability to excel in team environments, make me a great fit to join your organization as a network engineer.

I’ll be in [location + time frame] and would appreciate an opportunity to show you how I can [help the company with whatever they need].

I’ll be in San Francisco next week and would appreciate an opportunity to show you how I can contribute to your company’s IT operations and overall growth.  

Sincerely,

[your full name]

Resumes

In a nutshell they should be used to:

  1. Position yourself as an achiever
  2. Reinforce your position of being a benefit to the company
  3. Showcase your attention to detail and organization

Let’s break them down one by one…

Position yourself as an achiever  

Companies want results. They need to either become more efficient and decrease their costs or provide more value to their customers and increase their revenue.

Hiring managers are very aware of this. So they look for people who can add value either on the hard skills side or on the soft skills side, but preferably both.

You can position yourself as the ideal candidate by strategically presenting your experience, credentials and skills in such a way that it seems that you must be considered at all costs.

Note: needless to say, you shouldn’t lie about your skill set. Don’t “put lipstick on a pig.” If you do, you might end up embarrassing yourself in an in-person interview.

Here’s how you can position yourself as an achiever:

  1. Read 5-10 job postings and write down the top skills companies are looking to hire for your desired role.
  2. Rank the skills from most important/valuable to least important/valuable in your opinion.
  3. Ask yourself the following question: what real world tasks have you performed in the past that illustrate your knowledge of these particular skills?

Once you go through this process, use this formula to present your skills:

[key action] + [key skill] + [key purpose and key result]

For example:

Designed and deployed multi branch network using XYZ technology resulting in a decrease of 10 percent in the amount of N that was generating B problem.

Repeat this process with all of your skills making sure that every time you’re coming across as someone who could add value to a company in the specific areas that the company you’re applying to is looking for help with.

Reinforce your position of being a benefit to the company

After writing a great cover letter, you want to make sure that your resume is portraying you as the “perfect” type of person to join their company. To do this, you must take care of other details besides presenting your skills in a results-oriented way, which can really help your cause.

One of them is your resume objective. Once again, another example of a topic where there’s a ton of advice, but people seem to forget that no one cares about what you want, they care about what they want!

So instead of focusing on your desired job title and the skills you hope to use in your next position, use this section to your advantage. Tell them whatever you want, but do it in a way that shows how valuable you can be to them.

Use this formula:

[credentials + experience as…] have enabled me to become an expert at [general skills relevant to the job]. I’m a [top soft skills] person with a desire to implement and expand my knowledge of [top skills desired by the company], and I’m looking to join your team, where my existing set of skills and knowledge can [benefits to the company].

For example:

My 3 years of experience working in the IT field as a helpdesk analyst and network technician have enabled me to become an expert at routing and switching. I’m a driven and motivated team player looking to implement and expand my knowledge of networking, and I’m looking to join your team, where my existing set of skills can help streamline your IT operations.

Showcase your attention to detail and organization

The way you present your resume can say a lot about you. You want to make sure there are no grammar or punctuation mistakes. Companies like people who are detailed oriented and organized so believe it or not, they will look for these kinds of mistakes.

Here’s a reference you can use to present your resume in a clean and organized way (make sure you are prioritizing the order in which you list your skills according to what you concluded are the most important for the role): 

Name & Last Name

# street, city, state, zip code

Email

Phone Number

My 3 years of experience working in the IT field as a helpdesk analyst and network technician have enabled me to become an expert at routing and switching. I’m a driven and motivated team player looking to implement and expand my knowledge of networking, and I’m looking to join your team, where my existing set of skills can help streamline your IT operations.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

COMPANY 1

Title                                                 From(month/year) – to (month/year)

  • Designed and deployed multi branch network using X technology resulting in a decrease of X percent in whatever problem.
  • Relevant achievement # 2
  • Relevant achievement # 3

COMPANY 2

Title                                                 From(month/year) – to (month/year)

  • Relevant achievement # 1
  • Relevant achievement # 2
  • Relevant achievement # 3

CERTIFICATIONS

FSNA                                                                                     City, State

  • Relevant skill performed to achieve cert #1
  • Relevant skill performed to achieve #2
  • Relevant skill performed to achieve #3

EDUCATION

[       ] UNIVERSITY                                                              City, State

Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology Administration

SKILLS

  • Relevant skill #1
  • Relevant skill #2
  • Relevant skill #3
  • Relevant skill #4
  • Relevant skill #5
  • Relevant skill #6

ADVANCED SKILLS

  • Advanced skill # 1
  • Advanced skill # 2

If you follow this process and tips, you will be able to write a resume and cover letter combo that maximizes your chances of being invited to an in-person interview—regardless of how competitive a position may seem. Once in an in-person interview, however, everything will depend on how well you position yourself to the hiring manager.

If you found this article helpful, leave a comment below and let us know what you liked about it or what additional questions you still have. 

For IT training and weekly career coaching to land your dream IT job, visit our website to apply. 

 

 

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Changing careers: from economics to information technology

Changing careers: from economics to information technology

He had been standing in line for quite some time waiting impatiently—like everybody else appeared to be on his side of the stage. It was hot and somewhat humid, the sun was glaring on his face, and the dark outfit he was wearing from head to toe wasn’t helping in any way.

The crowd seemed very friendly, they cheered every time they heard a name—a little over the top in his opinion. He seemed to know that after walking across, things were not going to be as simple as they had been for the past few years; that things were most likely going south for many of the twenty-somethings standing next to him. 

The crowd was well aware of the crude reality of adult life, but they cheered for everyone anyways. He wondered why, but it didn’t matter anymore, it was his turn. “Kevin Lee”, a voice said loud and clear. He walked across the stage in front of a cheering crowd, counting every step of the way as if his fitbit wasn’t already doing it for him. He stretched his hand, grabbed it and walked off. Right in the middle, in big fancy bold letters, it read: Bachelor of Arts in Economics.

When Kevin graduated in 2014 from Rutgers University, he had completed one of the most challenging programs offered at that school. His family was very proud, of course. All those years of preparation and hard work had finally paid off. It was now time to capitalize on the skills he had developed.

When Kevin stepped off that stage he was looking to jumpstart a career full of intriguing challenges and opportunities. He had very high but realistic expectations of himself and his career, and was very excited for growing as a person and as professional.

Nonetheless, less than three years after his graduation, he isn’t working in anything related to economics. All that hard work, the time he put into mastering econometrics and calculus. All the all-nighters he pulled off trying to understand different theories, just to end up doing something else.

Right out of college, he jumped into a role as a project manager working for an interior design company. It wasn’t what he had envisioned—not much to do with economics. But a much better start than the one many of his struggling classmates were experiencing.

After almost a year, Kevin realized that he wasn’t inspired by the company’s mission, and felt like project management wasn’t for him. So, he decided to quit and do something where he could put his degree to use.

He landed a job working as an accountant in a CPA office. But shortly after, he found himself looking at the clock way too many times when he was at work. It was too repetitive.

Two years into his career, he was considering leaving it all behind and starting from scratch. He wanted a challenging job—a job where he could tackle new big projects often and grow his skill set all the time. So, he began looking for alternatives, and found an information technology (IT) training program called Zero to Engineer.

Kevin had made up his mind about switching careers, but knew nothing about IT at the time. He certainly didn’t want to go back to school for several years to get another degree. So, he jumped on the phone with Zero to Engineer’s head instructor and mentor, Terry Kim, to talk about his situation.

Kevin wanted a career full of new challenges and opportunities for growth. So despite not knowing anything about technology, he was intrigued by the ever-changing nature of the IT industry, and how it constantly pushes people to develop their skill set—not to mention the potential for great pay and variety of career paths that IT offers.

A career in IT was exactly what Kevin had been looking for—but he was starting from ground zero. After considering his options, he decided to enroll in the Zero to Engineer program, which promised to teach him the secret formula to jumpstart an IT career within months.

Obviously that was much less than what it was going to take him to get an associates degree at the local community college. He committed to his decision and dove into the program—following all the advice he was given and executing on every homework assignment, only pausing to catch up on sleep.

He never doubted his decision of not pursuing a career related to his hard-earned college degree. Instead, he studied hard—as if this were the last chance he had to have an exciting and fulfilling future. It only took him 2 months to finish the entire program.

It was now time to put what he learned into use and break into the industry. But before, he needed to solve the hands-on experience problem, and he needed to do it quickly—before started thinking that leaving his college education on the shelf and pursuing a career in tech wasn’t a smart decision.

Fast forward 18 months. Kevin now works as a network engineer for Samsung’s infrastructure team. In just a year and a half, he accomplished something that “experts” claim is supposed to take several years of study and experience.

He has now embarked on a new career, in an industry that never stops growing and changing. In the beginning he might have taken a pay cut, but it was only while he gained some experience working in an IT environment. 

From there, he had no trouble moving up because he followed the advice given in the Zero to Engineer program. Last time I checked, he was about to break the 6 figure salary mark. But, most importantly, was excited to go to work every morning and excited about his future.