I'm trying restlessly to get a job within the IT industry, be it local or up in London way.. But all the job positions that I have looked for, both software and hardware aspects require University grade qualifications and ~2 Years experience within the enterprise environment.

I did not go to University or even college. I left school and went straight into an apprenticeship and earned a range of qualifications such as:

  1. CompTIA A+
  2. Microsoft Technology Associate: Networking Fundamentals
  3. Microsoft Technology Associate: Windows OS Fundamentals
  4. Microsoft Technology Associate: Server Administration Fundamentals
  5. Microsoft Technology Associate: Security Fundamentals
  6. HP Accredited Technical Associate: Designing & Deploying Connected Devices
  7. HP Accredited Technical Associate: Designing & Deploying Network Solutions
  8. Level 3 Diploma in Professional Competence for IT and Telecoms Professional
  9. Level 3 Extended Diploma in ICT Systems and Principles
  10. Level 2 Key Skills in Information and Communication Technology

The CompTIA Qualification expires some time soon, but throughout my apprenticeship. I was told that the qualifications that I obtained are more desired than a university grade degree, is this actually true?

If not, with my qualification set, employers are not even giving me a call back after applying for the job position, what could be the actual reason of this? and how can I make myself look more presentable towards the enterprise environment/employers?

  • 2
    Hey Daryl, can you take a look at the linked post, workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/1478/… and see if the answers there answer your question. If not, can you edit your post to make it more clear why the other post doesn't help you. This will help others formulate answers tailored to your situation and not just give you answers that already exist. Hope this helps! :)
    – jmort253
    Jul 21 '13 at 17:58
  • @JoeStrazzere Sorry for the delay, It was a fast trace apprenticeship under the name "Pearson In Practice ATA" which was also known as "Zenos IT Academy" Located in englnd, The 21 week long apprenticeship was a paid placement, I then finished the work side of the course at a company local to me, which was for 4 months, this was a software/Hardware position
    – Daryl Gill
    Jul 21 '13 at 21:50

OK, with my Hiring/Development Manager hat on...

I have some similarities in that I also didn't take the road through college/uni, however I started into the industry in the 90s, at the ramp up of Y2k/ Internet bubble, so I found it easier to get my foot in the door, but at the other end now (senior tech/manager) here's what I see/suggest:

The certifications are very much generalist subjects, I don't know if you've thought about exactly what you want to do in the industry, but at the moment, by your areas, you are trying to go up for server admin/support roles, an area that is either (for large companies) being outsourced/off-shored, or (for small companies) is done by one-or two individuals in the company (who tend to be seen as gurus on the subjects). The outsourced guys are likely earning less/equal to what you'd be looking for in a role (and may be the other side of the world), will likely have a degree, plus possibly a number of years experience.

This means it's very difficult to get into this area in the UK, the small number of roles that still exist are likely to have high requirements. The certifications are a mixed blessing, over the years I've seen companies who it's the most important thing, others who bin the application straight off.

I think you need to look at what actually interests you and focus on that. I see you've done a security certification, that's a potential area (I'm deliberately avoiding pushing you into a development area at that has been going in a similar way to the above, and I know it's very difficult for graduates to get in, let alone someone at your stage).

What would be good would be to find something you can specialise in, and concentrate on that, the kind of things I'd think are security or scalability (web farms, clustered services etc), there is a dearth of good knowledge of these things, and get a good coverage of certs on these things, avoid the broad spectrum, focus.

If development does appeal, don't bother with certs just now, concentrate on working on OSS projects in the technology areas you like.

Get stuff checked in so you can build a portfolio of code to show (GIT checkins etc), again concentrate on something usable to the kind of company you want to work for (Java/.Net for corporate, PHP/Ruby for startup etc), a lot of newer job sites like (stack) have people who will take a good Git commit list over qualifications any day.

Also get with up-to-date practices - Agile etc. Most graduates don't get taught these things and as a new start if you can hit the ground running you're at an advantage to others with nice pieces of paper. Also try learning about the business domain of whatever industry you target, this is another thing that works in lieu of experience.

Once you've got that try aiming for short term contracts to start, people will take a punt on something for a few weeks/months, and it's good experience for the CV, this is one area where job hopping isn't a negative

So as a sum up I'd say:

  1. Focus/specialise
  2. Look at additional ways to demonstrate your skills/knowledge
  3. Work on the additional soft skills
  4. keep trying, the first step is the toughy, once you start it'll start working for you.
  • Thank you so much for your time, this has given me a little deeper insight on what I should do, the only question I have now.. Is shall I remove all my Web Development experience/keywords from my CV, when applying for a Server Administrator position? and vice versa?
    – Daryl Gill
    Jul 22 '13 at 12:35
  • 1
    If it's irrelevant to the role you are applying to then yes.You should be targeting each CV you send to the role you are trying to fill. I know that can seem like you are losing out the little you may have, but given how important the role is likely to be to you, you need to spend the time fine tuning it, people who send in "Bucket" CVs come across as lazy. I have a "Super" CV (well actually 3), with more than I'll ever send. When a role comes up I do 3 passes, 1 to remove the irrelevant, 1 to add anything I've thought of since, and 1 to tweak the existing, you need a web cv & a server CV Jul 22 '13 at 12:52
  • For the web one, add all the GIT stuff I mentioned (plus the Stackoverflow stuff you've done, I had a quick look at your rep here), Server should focus on the Certs (although you can mention them in the web, just not such a big focus). Jul 22 '13 at 12:54
  • 1
    Also for the web, ask around your mates/family etc to see if they are in any clubs or the like which don't have/or have bad web sites, then offer them a freebie. Always good to have real urls for people to look at. Don't do anything flashy, but good clean css/layout (mobile friendly, screen reader friendly), bit of jQuery and some decent server side stuff will get you to a few interviews. Jul 22 '13 at 12:58
  • I thought that having URLS within the CV was a bad idea and give an "unprofessional" outlook? Or is that not the case?
    – Daryl Gill
    Jul 22 '13 at 13:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .