How To Get A Computer Job With No Experience
There is a bit of conventional wisdom, told and retold so often that everyone is convinced it is a universal truth. “You need a job to get experience; you need experience to get a job.” But is it true?
Maybe in some fields – but in the computer industry, it isn’t true at all. Not only is it not true that you have to have experience to break into the computer industry, in fact you don’t even really need to have the years of college and internships and certifications. (I’m not saying those things aren’t useful – but you don’t need them.)
The fact is that can get a foot in the door of the computer industry with a decent job with major prospects for advancement, starting with nothing but a high school diploma, a good attitude, and the willingness to work.
If you are good with computers and want a job now, follow the instructions below and you’ll be working fast. If you have some technical education on top of that high school diploma, you can go farther and faster than you might imagine.
Understanding how to get work first begins with how most companies do their hiring.
It is rare to find a direct-hire listing for entry-level jobs
- It is rare to find a direct-hire listing for entry-level jobs
- To get entry-level work, use a staffing agency
- What jobs are always available?
- What shift should you go for?
- How do you approach a staffing agency?
- How long should you wait for a response?
- How to conduct yourself in an interview
- Things to know about working temp-to-perm
“Direct-hire” means the company wanting to fill a position directly places a job listing themselves. You know these as newspaper ads, monster.com ads and so on. If this is where you were looking for work, you’re looking in the wrong place. When you do see direct-hire jobs, they are usually for advanced positions. Someday you’ll be applying for those jobs – but not today.
To get entry-level work, use a staffing agency
Hiring entry-level positions is a time-consuming process, and company HR departments aren’t geared towards processing legions of low-level workers every year. Instead, they outsource that work to staffing agencies. Two of the most-used agencies are The Computer Merchant and Robert Half but there are literally thousands of staffing agencies out there, including some local to the city nearest you.
What jobs are always available?
There is one category of job that tech companies are literally always hiring for: customer support positions, i.e. the help desk. Yes, those people your parents call when they can’t figure out how to get their smartphone to turn on, and it turns out the battery was in backwards.
Things to know about help desk positions:
- Very high turnover rate. A lot of people have difficulty keeping this kind of work, because it involves taking calls, often from annoying people like your parents when they can’t figure out how to get their smartphone to turn on.
- Good pay. Because of the high turnover rate, companies are willing to pay you a little over the normal rate for entry-level white-collar work just to make sure you show up.
- Very easy to advance. If you show up on time and do a good job, then doors will open for you at the company. You can become a supervisor or trainer in the help desk, or you can move laterally to another division. Some people only have to do help desk for 6 months for getting a better/higher position within the company.
- Easy job. This job is extremely easy to learn; the company will train you how to do everything.
What shift should you go for?
The shift with the least stress is 3rd shift because fewer people are awake and making calls. This is the hardest shift to get because people know it has less stress involved. However, if you ask for it right from the get-go you’ll usually get it.
The shift with the most stress is second shift, not first. Nobody wants this shift and you start your day when call volume is at its highest.
How do you approach a staffing agency?
Do the following:
- Draft a resume in your word processor of choice. Make it SHORT and emphasize anything to do with customer service as that will be your most important “sell” – even fast-food work is good here because you can emphasize your people skills.
- CALL the staffing agency. You do not have to kiss their butt but rather be honest. Obviously, be nice. They will (of course) as you for your resume and possibly recommend you “sign up” for their web site. Go ahead – it’s all free. At no time will you ever spend one dime during this process.
- State that you want an entry-level computer support position. The rep you speak to should know exactly what this is.
- Don’t be picky. Take whatever the rep has to offer.
How long should you wait for a response?
A good staffing rep will have you on an interview in less than 2 weeks. If by the end of the first week s/he doesn’t return contact, call. BUG them. Be nice, but be firm.
How to conduct yourself in an interview
You know how to dress for an interview but here’s a few pointers:
- Keep eye contact
- If the interviewer asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, show that you have a genuine interest in finding the answer so you can help the customer, because that’s what the job is all about.
- Ask the following question sometime during the interview: “Is the knowledge base updated regularly?” This means you know that a call center uses a knowledge base to assist customers (even if you didn’t know that).
- Present yourself as a calm, cool, collected individual. People who hire help desk employees want calm people. If you’re a hot firecracker you absolutely will not get the job.
Things to know about working temp-to-perm
- You will have no benefits but a nice fat check each week.
- DO NOT be afraid of short-term assignments. If the assignment is only 3 months, take it because then you will have a working history with the staffing agency. Once you have this you will be able to get more work easily.
- If the job you get starts to really not work for you, don’t quit – instead, simply do not renew at the end of the temporary assignment. This is 100% OK to do. The agency will simply place you elsewhere.
- If you do like the job, stick it out until you go perm. 90 days after that you’ll get the benefits you want.