In NACE’s Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update survey, employers identified their top four career readiness competencies – skills critical to entry-level IT jobs. Critical thinking and problem solving, professionalism and work ethic, teamwork, and communication skills all made the top of the list.
If you don’t excel at each of these skills, don’t freak out. While all these skills are important, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Instead of stressing about the skills you may be missing, focus on your strong suits to break into the IT industry. How? Match your best skill with an appropriate IT job.
Here’s a look at these competencies and which entry-level IT jobs you may be best suited for based on your strongest skill:
If You Think Through Problems
Critical thinking and problem solving took the top spot of most wanted skills employers see as an essential need. Critical thinking is especially important in entry-level IT jobs. All employers want professionals who look at the big picture, think through their actions, and troubleshoot problems.
But if problem solving is your strong suit, starting your career as an IT support analyst might be the right fit for you. Support analysts are responsible for day-to-day technical support and development. Not only do they solve technical problems as they pop up, but they also develop strategies to avoid them in the future.
IT support analysts start by addressing concerns throughout the company and finding the best changes to make to hardware, software, systems, applications, and more to keep the business running smoothly and error-free. In this position, you hone both your technical and problem solving skills to move on to positions like IT directors, IT managers, and IT specialists.
If You Have a Strong Work Ethic
Alongside critical thinking, employers said they want employees with professionalism and work ethic the most. If you’re passionate about IT, excited to work on projects to completion, and have the drive to deliver the best service and solutions possible, database administration may be the best place to start your career.
Databases are the backbone of many software applications and systems, making them a critical component of a business. That means database administrators are always on call and typically working 10-hour days to keep the database up and running. It’s a demanding job, but those with the drive and attention to detail will thrive in the position.
Database administrators need sharp skills in organizing, storing, and managing data as they usually babysit information hubs, test modifications, and drive optimization efforts. To start, the position requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science or management information systems. But as you move up the ranks and take on higher positions in the field, you may need a master’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in information systems.
If You’re a Natural Leader
It’s no surprise that teamwork was among the top skills employers are looking for, and it’s extremely important in IT. Although IT professionals are often seen as lone wolves, tech is a team sport. Everything in IT is a team effort, but if you are a natural leader and work well overseeing a team, IT training may be the right path for you.
IT trainers instruct teams and other employees on using the technology and systems of the company. They also educate employees on new tech employers implement. The role requires both technical knowledge and teamwork skills. IT trainers work with a variety of people and teams, and they need to lead them all to success. They need to understand the challenges of the particular team and guide them to use tech in the best way to overcome them.
IT training is exciting because there are always new systems to learn. In addition, it’s a great way to enter the industry, get experience, and expand and specialize skills.
If You Communicate Like a Pro
Employers want professionals with both written and spoken communication skills. If oral communication skills are your strong point, you may want to start in IT consulting.
Although IT professionals are typically thought of as working behind the scenes, IT consultants have a lot of facetime with clients. That’s why the job requires a higher degree of professionalism and communication skills than most. IT consultants are constantly talking with clients, and they need to understand their needs and communicate why a certain solution, or why using a certain system is the best course of action.
If you shine in written communications, technical writing may be the best entry level IT job for you.
Technical writers write product descriptions, instructions, and documents that guideline best practices and standard operating protocols. They need to have a deep technical knowledge to write about products and technology in a way that is both accurate and easy to understand for those outside of the tech industry.
Breaking into IT can seem overwhelming. But if you focus on your strengths, the goal is more attainable.
Which competency is your strongest skill? Share in the comments below!