Certification can help you get your foot in a prospective employer's door, but to land a job, you must show other qualifications, too. Here are 10 tips for getting hired, from Herb Martin, owner and chief instructor of LearnQuick.Com, a Microsoft-oriented professional training company; Gene Mockler, an account manager for Pencom Systems, a nationwide recruiting and placement firm; Carol Spear of Software Education of America, a Microsoft Authorized Technical Education Center (ATEC); and Mike Erwin, technical services manager for CompuCom, a systems integrator and reseller.
1. Feature your certification on your résumé.
"Most people feature certification prominently on their résumés," Mockler said. "It's not something you bury on page three as an afterthought." If an employer notices your certification, you have a better chance of getting past the first cut in the selection process.
2. Tailor your résumé to the position.
Often, one résumé is not enough for an extensive job search. You may benefit from tailoring two or more résumés to different types of positions. You can try to present yourself in a unique way with cover letters, but if your résumé does not show that you fit the position, you will not get an interview.
3. List your hardware skills.
Many companies that hire systems engineers look for employees who also know hardware. "Having a basic hardware repair course or an A+ certification is a big plus to many employers," Spear said. "You've got a better chance with both MCSE and A+ certification than with just MCSE certification."
4.Emphasize jobs you have held for long periods.
Although the amount of time the average employee spends in one position seems to be shrinking, recruiters still look for employees who make a commitment to their employers. "If I see somebody who's jumped from job to job every year, I usually throw that person's résumé away," Erwin said.
5. Emphasize your formal education.
"I like to see formal education in my engineers," Erwin said. He prefers to hire candidates with degrees in fields related to IS, such as electrical engineering, rather than candidates who adopt IS as a second career.
6. Sell yourself in the interview.
"Many organizations are not good at noticing quality and what people are actually capable of," Martin said. "Explain to the people interviewing you how you are going to help them solve their problems."
In explaining what you can do for a company, emphasize your communication skills. Engineers often need to explain very technical concepts to nontechnical managers, and successful candidates for an engineering position demonstrate that they can handle such an assignment. "I'd like to think everyone who comes in the door has potential to be someone who can stand up in front of a CIO and articulate a technology strategy," Erwin said.
"Technology is a means to solve business problems, not an end in and of itself. People who are effective communicators and have a grasp on technology are the most effective people," Mockler said.
7. Listen to your interviewers.
The interviewers will tell you (directly or indirectly) what type of candidate will succeed at the job, so listen carefully to what the interviewers say. "If they don't tell you, be sure to ask," Martin said. Draw on your background, experience, and skills to present yourself as the best candidate for the job and to address the interviewers' concerns.
8. Know the company.
You can usually learn about companies fairly easily through the Internet. Researching a company and thinking about how the company uses information technology will help you present yourself more effectively.
9. Demonstrate a passion for technology.
If you're going to be a systems engineer, you need to be committed to learning the latest technology. "I don't want to hire someone who doesn't love this industry," Erwin said.
10. Be prepared for technical questions.
Some companies arrange for candidates to interview with technical personnel. Other firms do not let nontechnical managers hire technical people without consulting a technical employee. Considering technical employees' opinions in the hiring decision prevents nontechnical interviewers from being dazzled by technology buzzwords and forces candidates to know the industry well.
| CompuCom |
| LearnQuick.Com |
| Microsoft Certification |
| Microsoft Certified Professional Online Magazine |
| Pencom Systems |
| Software Education of America |