Who are you
You are any of the following:
- Self-taught and looking to get into a professional position
- Experienced but, recently relocated and can’t find work
- Experienced but, have been away from the field
- Have some formal education but have not been able to find that first job
Bottom line: You need to be able to do the work and have enough grit to work on your areas of weakness.
1.Get a Lay of the Land
Typically, it is more difficult to find talent in rural places due to population density. Check your nearest towns for locations with junior positions or any senior positions somewhat related to your desired skill set. The goal is to find someone open to the possibility of working with you given your work\exp situation (See Assumptions). If you are having trouble then, I’d recommend you go to your local chamber of commerce and look through their catalog of companies, from there try to find any companies that would have a fairly demanding IT need.
Some helpful presumptions to start with:
- If the company will likely have lots of computers in use at a location then they will likely need System Admin, Network Admin, Repair Techs and related.
- If they do but don’t have their own in house staff then they have an agency\consultant. Either that means they have someone that drives some distance to service them, they have a local office or, they have silo workers.
- If they are a service company and have a website that looks like it was old in the 90’s then they are likely a small business. This could be good for you if they need a web designer or developer. (Search for any career, jobs page or use a bit of google fu to search for any job openings they may have and is located in a non-obvious location.Syntax: site:[testsite] [search term]
Example: site:hackerferret.com jobs
2.Figure out “WHO”
Once you have a company in mind, you need to figure out the person you need to talk to. Many smaller companies have their decision makers on their about page or somewhere on their site. If that doesn’t help then check the company’s employee list or an advanced Linkedin search by company. Email or direct lines are what you want to use to connect.
Get in touch with the decision-maker or seniors in the IT department or higher. If not someone with pull in the IT department then maybe the owner if they are willing to talk to you. You can find this out often with a bit of leg work. (See Step 2)
The Cold Call Gamble (Aside)
Cold calling the front desk and getting to where you need to go can be quite a challenge but, is definitely doable depending on the structure of the company. Remember that the person answering the phone at the front desk is tasked with blocking the people on the inside from time wasting from the outside. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time and need to ensure that you do not. Researching the company and understanding their business model, needs, internal structure and anything you can surrounding that will help here.
Know what to ask for prior by researching the specific structure of the company
- Department names
- Some company history
If you don’t know this then don’t call the front desk.
4.Establish Your Channel of Communication
Once you have a connection proceed to explain that you are interested in an existing specific position and ask what it takes to get it. If that person doesn’t know then ask to be introduced to someone that does (Warm intros are always better than cold). If they are and don’t want to talk to you then try your luck with someone else higher up the chain.
If you aren’t yet confident\experienced enough to be amazing at the position then make it your goal to be the ideal person that they need for that position. If you want to go the extra mile then offer to buy this person lunch or dinner to pick their brain for a short period of time and keep in touch periodically. Do whatever you need to to make yourself worth their time.
Get to a point where you meet can confidently meet all the prerequisite skills both from a practical and theoretical perspective. While leveling up, build a portfolio or gain the expected certs as proof that you can perform said skills. Once you are at a point where you are confident and can prove it you can pitch them on you. You need to be at a point where you are well above average for that position.
6.The Initial Negotiation
In addition to being knowledgeable and having proof with a portfolio, you can provide them some additional assurance that minimizes the risk of you being a costly bad decision. To offset some of that risk you could offer to work for less to start or possibly part-time or get additional validation with some solid technical professional with a similar background for additional social proof. The goal is to give them as little reason as possible to say no. If it is a no then thank them for their time, bow out gracefully, ask about other possible companies that might work with you or any other possible advice (e.g. “What would you do if you were me?” ) and above all keep things positive. You are a fledgling at this point, you do not need a black mark against you so early on in your career.
7.Go Forth and Kick Ass
Once you’ve at this point and have your foot in the door proceed to kick ass at the job. Study after hours, understand the technical and the business and find ways to provide value-add to the company. Keep at it until they are begging to hire you and shaking in their boots to lose you. Be so good that the thought of losing you keeps them up at night.