How I went from $15 an hour to Six-Figures in IT Consulting
So the story goes….
I have spent 15 years in Information Technology (IT) as a consultant–quite shockingly. I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since I left the U.S. Navy and returned back to Chicago. Wow, how time flies!
In this 10 year time frame I’ve learned a great deal about the IT industry, IT recruiting, Project Management, as well as resume writing and using LinkedIn to connect and make connections. I posted a previous blog post about my experience in IT, which you can read here:
This post got a LOT of attention from a lot of my readers.
There are a lot of people that need help landing jobs mainly because they don’t know how to create visibility to recruiters to land the interview. Landing the interview requires that you become highly visible, and creating visibility to recruiters begins with your RESUME!
So a quick story of what I’ve done to get where I am….
I started off in 2006 in IT Helpdesk because at the time that was the breadth of my experience. So I wrote my resume to speak to jobs in the IT Helpdesk niche. I got hired in my first position fresh out of the military, with no certifications, at the City of Chicago. At the time I was making $15 per hour.
Over the next several years following that position I intentionally applied for positions that were higher in salary and responsibility. Of course this took time, but what I was doing was building my experience as well as my resume.
When I would go from job to job, I would be sure to articulate in detail my role, the responsibilities that I was given, the technologies I worked on, and the specifics of my daily workload.
I also reviewed jobs that were at the ideal income level that I wanted and I researched those positions and what was required to successfully land those roles. A position that I’ve always wanted that had a great deal of exposure, responsibility, as well as a desirable pay was IT Project Management.
IT Project Management has been a booming industry for quite some time now and as it stands at the writing of this blog post, it doesn’t look like the industry is slowing in demand. It pays to have experience and if you are reading this and saying to yourself “Well, I don’t have the experience you have”, the truth is, you can begin to develop the experience! But it starts with your resume and landing the type of jobs that get you to where you want to be.
This applies to every industry in my opinion, but employers are looking for people that have experience and are seasoned in a particular area. The reason why IT is such a great field for building a resume, is due to the fact that you can “contract” with multiple companies over a short period of time. Contracting simply means that you agree to work on a short term project typically 6-18 months, without benefits from the company that you are working for. Contract positions are in abundance in the market, with the right resume and experience. So for instance, I’ve worked contracts as short as 6 months. You work the 6 months, and then you’re done. You’re off to the next opportunity!
How Good is Your Resume?
Writing a great resume does not necessarily mean you should follow the rules you hear through the grapevine. It does not have to be one page or follow a specific resume format. Every resume is a one-of-a-kind marketing communication. It should be appropriate to your situation and do exactly what you want it to do to get you the results you want.
The good news is that, your resume can be a winner with a little tweaking here and there. You can create a resume that makes you stand out as a superior candidate amongst the crowded job market. Not one resume in a hundred follows the principles that stir the interest of prospective employers, and I know this because it is a common mis-education amongst people as to what it takes to present your skills in the right way. So, even if you face fierce competition, with a well written resume you can command more interviews, more often, and more so than the numbers of candidates that are more qualified than you.
The bad news is that your present resume is probably not as adequate as you realize. To understand what I mean, let’s take a look at the purpose of your resume. Why do you have a resume in the first place? What is it supposed to do for you?
So for example, you apply for a job that seems absolutely perfect for you. You send your resume with a cover letter to the prospective employer. Other people think the job sounds great too and apply for the job. Employers, as soon as they post the job some days later, are staring at a pile of resumes. Several hundred to be exact! You might be thinking, isn’t that an inflated number? Not really. A job offer often attracts between 100 and 1000 resumes these days, so you are facing a great deal of competition. Which is why you need to be sure you have the best format possible to be seen.
How About your LinkedIn Profile?
LinkedIn is quickly becoming the default platform for hiring managers to find candidates to fill positions, almost to the point where I foresee your resume being obsolete in the future. An effective LinkedIn summary makes people want to know more about you and ultimately connect with you one-on-one, so alignment of your skills with what is needed in the marketplace is critical. You need make sure the bio you present online matches your real-world self.
Think of your LinkedIn content in terms of these buckets, and then fill them to the brim:
Your most important accomplishments. Write a sentence for each one in terms of the value you created, ex. (“I saved my company $500k in returned products by ensuring customer satisfaction on the front-end of the transaction; I built our first world-class customer service team from the ground up.”)
Your values and passions. Articulate your operating principles and the things that energize you (for example, optimism, creativity, yoga and meditation).
Your superpowers. Describe the things you do better than anyone else (“I can assemble seemingly disparate facts into a cohesive, tangible story,” or “I inspire and engage even the most skeptical client.”)
Fact, figures and stats. List interesting points that are quantifiable. (“I ran five marathons in five different countries; I speak three languages and travel to five continents every year; I worked in six different areas of the business before becoming the head of sales.”)
Differentiation. Cull the things that make you YOU and help you stand out from your peers (“I do my best work from 6 a.m.-8 a.m. before anyone gets to the office.” “Acknowledging others is important to me, so I like to type personal thank-you messages to team members and colleagues on the typewriter I was given on my 16th birthday.”)
External validation. Include testimonials from others while showcasing all the awards and accolades bestowed upon you (for example, graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Michigan, was named top 30 under 30 by the Chicago Chamber of Commerce).
If you are in need of assistance with your resume or LinkedIn profile contact me by sending me an email with the subject line (Resume/LinkedIn help) to firstname.lastname@example.org