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Now What?  Overcoming the Obstacles in IT

Now what? Those who enter the world of IT, get certified, and remain in this volatile profession are continually faced with obstacles. This IT professional discusses seven common obstacles he has faced in IT, and tells you how he dealt with them.

Now what? When I considered entering IT back in the early 90s, I realized that there were many obstacles that I had to overcome to gain entry into the IT community, and even more to get certified in IT. After I got into IT, I realized that there were many obstacles that I had to overcome to stay in IT. The world of IT is not unlike any other profession. It takes hard work, perseverance, and most of all determination to overcome the obstacles that exist in this profession. Numerous obstacles keep people out of IT, push IT professionals into other careers, and prevent people from tackling the career paths that require certification.

I have found that those, like me, who enter IT and stay in IT, have a common characteristic—a positive, determined, focused attitude. We don't take NO for an answer. That being said, obstacles can and do squash people's dreams. Obstacles can motivate or paralyze. In this Now What? article, I will take a look at seven of the obstacles that I have faced in this business. Through anecdotes, I will tell you how I have dealt with them. I don't have all the answers, but I have learned through trial and error that my attitude was the key to entering IT, getting IT-certified, and staying in IT.

1: I Don't Have the Background, Experience, or Education to Get a Job in IT.

This is the Catch-22 for career changers. I entered IT with a Master's degree in Theology from Seminary and a Master's degree in Education. I did not have a degree in CIS or MIS. I worked as a Technology Manager for several years in a school district. I made sure that my work experience was well-documented on my resume. Whenever I submitted my resume for entry-level jobs, I either got no response to my application, or I was asked what made me think I was qualified for a technology job. It was very difficult changing careers. No one took my experience seriously.

The obstacle I was faced with was the following: How can I present myself on paper so that an HR person will look at my resume and call me in for an interview? That was a tough obstacle to overcome. I spoke with numerous friends, and asked them to look at their resumes to see how they presented themselves. What I came up with was the following three-pronged strategy.

  • First, I removed all references to my degree from Seminary and all associated work. When I was asked by telephone or in an interview what I was doing during the period that I was in Seminary, I told the HR person the truth. I did not conceal it, but I did not advertise it.

  • Second, I began the certification process. I initially earned the Novell CNA and CNE. Those two certifications, by themselves, opened up more doors than virtually anything else I have done in IT.

  • Finally, I put the certifications and my non-theological education in the first section of my resume. The first thing any HR person sees on my resume is my laundry list of certifications and degrees. People can debate the value of certification until the cows come home. In my life, the certifications that I have earned have opened doors that previously were closed.

In order to overcome this obstacle, I took the attitude that I had to market myself to HR people in a way that they would understand and accept. It worked. As a closing thought, about two years ago, I put my Seminary degree and associated work back on my resume. It has not been a deterrent to employment opportunities. When faced with this obstacle, think through what you have to offer that an IT company is looking for. Reformulate your resume for the IT mindset.

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