Next Move: Are there jobs for one-year ITers?

In 2000 I took out a career development loan and obtained a diploma in C programming. A few months later I got a job as a...

In 2000 I took out a career development loan and obtained a diploma in C programming. A few months later I got a job as a third-line support software engineer. I had been trained using C on Windows, but this position involved using C on Unix (which I had hardly any experience of) and setting up and running tests on various configurations of routers. I was asked to leave last May. Since then, I have managed to secure just one interview. All the firms I have applied to are either only looking for university graduates or people with a minimum of two or three years' experience. I am now wondering whether I have wasted a year and the £6,000 I spent on training.I am now studying Unix/Linux at home and attending a Web design and networking course. Will these efforts be of any use? Are there any opportunities for people like me, with one year's commercial experience?

Be prepared to be flexible
You have clearly demonstrated an active interest in IT by paying for your own training, but you have fallen into the common position of not having significant industry experience. Bear in mind that this often applies to graduates as well.

There are some things you can do to maximise your chances of success, which you will need to underpin with real perseverance. Key to this is the market picking up and companies releasing funds to IT departments again. When this happens we will see a growth in demand for certain skills - most commentators believe this will happen later this year, although we can only expect steady growth.

You must ensure that your CV is presented properly - summarising your key skills, competencies and highlighting your year's commercial experience - and that you are prepared for competitive interviews. Register with a select few agencies that know the market and understand what you really want, apply to companies directly, and keep a close eye on advertisements in the trade press and on recruitment Web sites. Be prepared to be flexible about pay and the type of company you work for, particularly if the firm is prepared to invest in training.

There is no easy solution here - ensure you are well prepared and be tenacious. Good luck in your search.

Solution by Michael Bennett, Best International

The panel:
MSB International, Best International, BCS, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, Reed Computing, Netheads Consulting, Zarak Technology, E-Skills UK

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