I have done a lot of IT courses and have been awarded an MCP and a CCNA. However, I cannot use these qualifications in my current job so I lack any practical experience. Do you have any advice?
Try for a job internally in the IT department
This is the perennial conundrum: you cannot get the job without experience, and you cannot get the experience without a job.
You have done part of the work by getting qualifications to a recognised standard. One option is to approach your employer and ask about recruitment into the internal IT team. If you already have a proven employment track record, they might be more willing to take the risk and transfer you.
Another option that has proved to be successful with people in similar circumstances to yourself, is to look on the web or go to your local reference library and find publications that show all the local companies and what hardware and software they use. Such publications will also have the name of an IT manager or someone in human resources.
You will need to write a covering letter highlighting your qualifications and what salary you are looking for. You may find that there are several companies to write to, so it may be easier to send e-mails. Either way, the companies will appreciate a direct approach as it saves having to spend an agency fee.
In addition to this, if you register on job boards you can receive e-mails notifying you of jobs that match your criteria. You will probably receive a lot of hits but this will be directly from clients and agencies. It is another way of raising your awareness of the opportunities out there.
Solution by Tracey Abbott, Zarak Group
The panel: MSB International, Best International, BritishComputer Society, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology, E-Skills UK.
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This was first published in September 2003