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To find an IT job or get certifications first - need help!


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#1 Anton_LF

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 09:45 PM

Hello everyone. I want to hear some advice from experienced American IT professionals. Sorry for my English, i am still learning that language.
 
A little bit about myself. I am 32years old, originally from Russia. I worked approximately 3 years in Moscow as the "system administrator", so i have a little experience in IT. Now i immigrated to USA, Miami, and trying to find job for IT-support/helpdesk position. I am ready to take any entry position in IT for any salary, but, i don't know why, nobody calls me, despite the fact that i apply for jobs almost every day. May be the problem is in bad situation on the IT job market over there, or because i don't have experience with american software like accounting programs, bank clients, databases, etc.. And i also don't have any certifications, except A+. Anyway, nobody calls me. Apparently, i cannot compete with another contenders, because of lack of my experience, absence of certifications and poor (not very poor, but not fluent anyway) English.
 
So finally one man from New Horizons called me and made an appointment. When i came there, they gave me very primitive assessment (seriously, every non-IT person can pass this test, the questions were like "choose input device: mouse, monitor, keyboard"), and after that they suggested us (except me there were several American guys  who were trying to find IT job just like me) to try Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Program. As i understood them, if i would be lucky, then goverment will pay to the New Horizons and New Horizons would provide me education program - "Network and Security Engineer", that includes 9 exams and 5 certifications (Comptia A+ (i already have it), Network +, MCSA Server 2012, Security+ and CCNA). Duration of that training is 4,5 months. And only after that New Horizons will reconsider my resume (they call that "polish resume") and start to promote me to help me find the job. 
 
So eventually i am going to my question - it is worth it? Because my first goal is to find the IT job. Certifications are good, of cource, but i can take them one by one later. The man from New Horizons told me, that it is very important to have "connections" on IT job market to succeed in job-search, that my resume is fine, that i excellent passed their test (again, this test is nothing, so that means nothing), that the reason why nobody calls me is because i don't have certificates, and i must use that chance and use that WIA Program. He was talking too long and too much. I understand, that he is interested to attract people, because this is their (New Horizon) business. But i also understand, that this person doesn't have any reasons to try help some russian immigrant find the job. So i am pretty sceptical.
 
So, what do you think guys? What would you do on my place? I do have some money to support myself all this time without job, but i want to find IT job eventually, so i don't know what is better - try to use this WIA program or not? 
 
Thank you.


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#2 Kilroy

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 02:35 PM

Until this post I didn't know anything about the WIA program.  Make no mistake, New Horizons is doing this for them, not for you.  If you qualify for the WIA program I don't see any reason not to go for it.  Certifications won't hurt you.

 

The problem I see is that you already have your A+ and aren't getting calls for level 1 service desk jobs, that's an issue.  You might want to consider having your resume professionally done.  I had mine done about 10 years ago through Monster.com.  It cost about $300, but I believe it was a good investment.  The changes they make aren't stellar, but they got me calls.

 

I've taken courses from New Horizons in the past, though work, and found them to be fine.  A lot of it depends on the instructor.



#3 Anton_LF

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 03:19 PM

Thank you for the answer! 

 

About New Horizons. Today i have read some scary stories about New Horizons : 

 

http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/New-Horizons-CLC/Morrisville-North-Carolina-27560/New-Horizons-CLC-New-Horizons-A-scam-worth-20000-Morrisville-North-Carolina-302752

 

or these: 

 

http://mcbigrub.hubpages.com/hub/Workforce-Investment-Act-Employment-Solution-or-Scam

 

So right now i am in great doubt. 

 

To be honest i am completely lame in resume-writing... I just tried to rewrite my resume using some templates, but it still doesn't work... Ok, i will try to use professional services.  

 

But i am looking for IT job, i mean, just technical job position. I don't need to impress anybody with my great speech or super professional resume... At least in Moscow nobody cares about that, they just need to see your knowledge and experience, if they match the position requirements, they will call you and make an appointment, where IT-professional will check your knowledge and experience during conversation. Very simple and fair. No stupid tests with many stupid questions, no worthless talks with people, who are not in IT, and etc..

 

Is that so in USA process of finding the job is completely different? 

 

I don't mind to pay to get professional resume. I just don't understand, why i should to do that, if i am heading for ENTRY level positions. I would understand, if some really smart and experienced man with dozens of certifications and 10 years experience is looking for IT - chief position with good salary and benefits. Then yes, he needs to make professional resume. But in my case what it would change?



#4 Kilroy

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 03:31 PM

Yes, it would change.  Here is why.  Resume professionals know how to format your resume so it isn't just like other resume.  They will make sure the keywords you need to get recognized by the resume scanning software are in your resume.  If you're applying for an entry level job, but your resume is first class it will draw attention to you.  The job of your resume is to get you an interview.

 

Do you have a LinkedIn account?  If not get one.  Follow Liz Ryan of Human Workplace.  Read her postings.  Later on as you establish yourself in the US you can add the people you work with to your LinkedIn network.  LinkedIn is NOT Facebook.  Don't add everyone, just the people who you would like to be linked to professionally.  If their work is not up to your standards don't add them.  That's when what you can do will start mattering more than your resume.  When people you know contact you to say that there is a job open that you would be perfect for.



#5 morris88

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 05:22 AM

Doing both at the same time is a good idea as studying for qualifications usually helps out with your knowledge for work and working usually exposes you practically to the things you will be studying!

 

Good Luck with both  :clapping:



#6 Dennis J. Hawkins

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 02:14 PM

well its a pretty tough question. in the of information technology i would recommend you to get more certifications first as more certifications means more computer skills. and then i would say apply in any firm which is recognized and credible and provide you enough experience to build a bright future. moreover, if your further make your profile more appealing than you can get a work experience degree through which your CV will be more attractive in the eyes of employer. n this way you can have a desiring job and more comfortable salary on the long term.



#7 Ivy74

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 02:43 PM

This career is a funny thing. I seen guys they hire where I work and  I say "what were you thinking?", and other places saying I was over qualified yet they hire this person that doesn't know lefty-loosey. It's tricky and you will just have to keep pushing till you find your home.

 

In short, do both:

Go for certs while you are not working or/and when you have the time and then keep applying.

 

The only people I would tell to go to school for this is those that are completely PC oblivious. You CAN learn all this stuff on the job for that is how I learned. I went from the Produce Clerk to an IT veteran in 17 years. You will make A LOT of mistakes, you will screw things up, you WILL get stressed out, welcome to IT. But if you learn your stuff, put in a few years at a job (once you find one) you will prevail. The ideal job to LEARN is field work; I been in all types of situations and field work is where it's at to learn. With field work you touch everything. With a large corporation where you work in an IT department you are limited to your job and what they allow within the company. With field work you can take care of the soccer mom to the fortune 500 people; you will find yourself in the less than desirable situations but if you push and put your best foot forward you will prevail.

 

If I could do it all over again, I would have gotten a job at UPS, truck driving school, garbage man, etc. I am not joking. This career pays well but the BS that comes with it I sometimes wish I did something else. 


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My job has blocked Europe by the firewall which means I can't access this site from the office anymore. So I will barely be here if at all. In case you cared.  :smash:


#8 DeimosChaos

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 11:37 AM

The only people I would tell to go to school for this is those that are completely PC oblivious.

 

I completely disagree with that statement.

Actually if you are PC oblivious, you probably aren't going to learn much while at school for a degree in computer whatever anyway.

 

I myself just graduated from Drexel University with bachelors in Computer Security this past June. I was not at all PC oblivious. I have been building and messing around with computers since I was a teenager and learned a lot by just doing it (which really is the best way to learn, which you did mention).

The way I look at it is this, on my resume it sates my degree, my GPA, etc. This sets me far apart from people that are looking at the same jobs as I am, and it helped me get a far better job that I wouldn't have been able to get without that degree. I also worked while getting my degree, that is another plus for most employers. It shows motivation and commitment. For the job I am currently at, I had an interview with the boss that is head of the department. He asked me only a couple of questions, one was did I really work and go full time to school at the same time. He was impressed by that.

 

I get that a college degree isn't for everybody, and not that long ago you could get a job in IT without ever needing a degree. But look at any of the higher paying jobs that are out there now, they all require a 4 year degree.

So my advice, certifications are great, but they won't get you as far as a degree can. Get some certs, get a job, then go part time to school and work your way towards a degree. If anything, just showing that you are working your way towards higher education will look good on a resume.


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#9 Ivy74

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 11:57 AM

I sort of agree and sort of not. When I got into this business I was a college drop out for the simple fact I have a hard time, a very hard time learning from books. Also, if you go to a "University" their IT classes are all about programming. That is great if you want to get into the programming aspect, but if you don't or/and found that isn't your thing for you to get a 4 year degree in that field you need to get past those classes and I have to tell you, w/out my ex-wifes help plus doing it online I wouldn't have achieved my 4 year degree for I SUCK at programming. Note i was doing this after being in IT for 10 years.

 

That is just one of my issues with computer courses in college. I feel strongly they should break up the degree to the point of ones focus.

1. Network Security

2. Network Administration

3. Programming

4. Support 

and so on. 

 

Force feeding those to learn programming I found a complete waste of time but I did it and got my 4 year degree finally. 

 

Now, the reason for getting my degree is 2 fold:

1. Something I always wanted to do but had a lot of trouble achieving it

2. Too many jobs wanting you to have a Bachelors

 

The funny part is after I got it, every job I applied for and got didn't care if I had a bachelors or not and to think I spent thousands to get it is quite annoying.

 

So I say this, be absolutely SURE what you want. For you will not know what I know from any "college". Now a technical school, that is a different story but that too you can learn on your own.

 

Also I have worked with the college graduates who were fresh from graduating and they didn't know which way to turn a screw driver, carrying around the power drills, and didn't even grasp the concept of an IP address. So what did they learn in college? Not what they needed to do the job they were hired for.

 

Instead, really think about what YOU want, then figure out the best approach.

 

IMHO nothing beats hands on no matter if you are a bookworm or not. I encounter things that you don't even see in certification tests, and I get them resolved. In fact, the #1 tool these days in this business with my career focus is Google. Google and Ping are your friend for most issues or a phone to call the support company for the product. 

 

I have 17 years worth of knowledge and even thought about leaving the support field and go into the teaching field. The only thing that stopped me is the significant pay decrease I would incur by doing this. So I left that opportunity behind but still wish a technical school would pay me enough so I can teach kids what they really need to know to do this job. Yeah I can teach you what you need to know to pass a cert test, but things such as Ping would benefit a tech more than knowing how to program in C++ if that tech does what I do for a living. 

 

Lastly, if I check a persons resume when we are interviewing them, I could careless if they got a bachelors or not. I could careless if they achieved multiple Microsoft Certs. What I care about is do they know why a PC that is set to obtain an IP is getting a 169.xxx.xxx.xxx address. I want a tech that knows if a person can't access a webpage or any webpage that doesn't necessarily mean they don't have internet (proxy, ping the gateway, ping an external IP) is things I want them to know or at least have the ability to grasp those tools and concepts, absorb them like a sponge, and then move forward. I don't care if you can memorize facts to pass a test, how is that going to benefit you as well as me? It doesn't!


Edited by Ivy74, 24 December 2014 - 12:00 PM.

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My job has blocked Europe by the firewall which means I can't access this site from the office anymore. So I will barely be here if at all. In case you cared.  :smash:


#10 DeimosChaos

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 12:40 PM

I sort of agree and sort of not. When I got into this business I was a college drop out for the simple fact I have a hard time, a very hard time learning from books. Also, if you go to a "University" their IT classes are all about programming.

 

I totally understand the not being able to learn from books, I got a four year degree and didn't learn a whole lot from books. I did learn some things but I also knew a decent amount. One thing I did learn and hear was some good real world advice and knowledge from professors that were actively working in the IT industry (being that I had not been in the industry yet it was good to get some advice and knowledge).

 

The second part I actually don't get at all. I am not sure how long its been since you have looked at what colleges offer today, but that is a complete and utter false statement . I took one, yes ONE, programming course while getting my four year degree (C++). I didn't go to school to get a degree in Computer Science I went specifically for what I got, and that was Computer Security. I took a wide range of courses, lots of networking courses, system architecture courses, security centric courses (as you would expect), etc.

There are many different areas you can get a degree in now a days. Computer Science degrees are just a small part of what University's are offering. I am actually going to be getting a Masters degree in the near future, and my plan on that is in Cyber Security, there are a lot of different schools offering that exact Masters degree program.

I am still new to the industry and don't know everything. I value people like you who have been there done that and have seen the weird stuff.

 

 

 

So I say this, be absolutely SURE what you want. For you will not know what I know from any "college". Now a technical school, that is a different story but that too you can learn on your own.

 

 

I completely agree with that. You should know what you want to do BEFORE you start pursing a college degree. If you don't then its just wasted time and money.

 

Regardless of it all, College and all that isn't for everyone. Its just my personal opinion that it is definitely a good thing to go get, especially if you know what you are wanting to get. I would recommend it to anyone regardless of their computer expertise and know how (as long as they know what they want).


Edited by DeimosChaos, 24 December 2014 - 12:41 PM.

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#11 Ivy74

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 12:46 PM

The second part I actually don't get at all. I am not sure how long its been since you have looked at what colleges offer today, but that is a complete and utter false statement ...

 

It's not a false statement, it was based on when I was in school, and to be fair it's been quite awhile. I was still married when I got my degree and no longer am. So if things change, I am actually glad. For back in my day, an IT Degree meant one programming course after another no matter what field you wanted to get into. So if they are no longer force feeding that, then they clearly wised up. It's about a time. Just too late for me for I am no longer giving any school anymore money. 


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My job has blocked Europe by the firewall which means I can't access this site from the office anymore. So I will barely be here if at all. In case you cared.  :smash:


#12 DeimosChaos

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 12:57 PM

 

The second part I actually don't get at all. I am not sure how long its been since you have looked at what colleges offer today, but that is a complete and utter false statement ...

 

It's not a false statement, it was based on when I was in school, and to be fair it's been quite awhile. I was still married when I got my degree and no longer am. So if things change, I am actually glad. For back in my day, an IT Degree meant one programming course after another no matter what field you wanted to get into. So if they are no longer force feeding that, then they clearly wised up. It's about a time. Just too late for me for I am no longer giving any school anymore money. 

 

 

Well true, in the context of when you had went it makes sense. I did not mean to be rude there, wasn't my intention, I apologize.

 

Yes I think that they are finally offering much more of a wider format when it comes to IT related topics, which is a fantastic thing. Especially in the way of Security, that platform has blown up in the last  few years. You can find degrees in Computer Security just about every where nowadays.

 

To stay more on topic...

Its up to you Anton_LF what it is you exactly are wanting to do. Like was mentioned up above, if you can get help with your resume I would recommend it. Just keep applying man and keep looking. One site that I used extensively while looking for jobs was indeed.com. Great resource. Good luck with it all!


Edited by DeimosChaos, 24 December 2014 - 12:59 PM.

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#13 Anton_LF

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 04:02 PM

Thank you guys for the answers and advises. 

 

I am still looking for job, i returned back to the US in December, and i didn't get any job yet. Some companies calling me by phone, they are asking typical questions, and after that saying that if their hiring manager decide that i match their position, he will call me back. And nobody calls after that... 

 

Another case - one company sent me email, where it says that they are going to call me on Monday to make phone-interview. Ok, eventually they called me. And during our conversation i realized, that this lady has absolutely no idea what to ask me about, and worse of all, i felt in her voice that she was very bored to talk with me. All conversation was full of very awkward pauses. Of course after that interview they didn't call me back. 

 

Now, i realize, that it is not very big pleasure to talk with somebody, who is not fluent in your language and has an accent. But come on, i am not applying for bank/client representative position! I am applying to for Desktop support/helpdesk/IT technician! For entry level! These guys are spending most time of their job just fixing broken computers, or deploying new ethernet-cables in the office, or helping users. And besides, my English is not so terrible! I had spoken with Indian guy from tech support of MetroPCS, and it was a torture, because i didn't understand almost the half of his words, so strong his accent was! I mean, Americans at least understand me in most cases. 

 

One person recommended me to attend some meetups. For example web-sites like meetup.com and eventbrite.com. But all of the IT meetups there are for programmers or for Linux. I didn't find any Microsoft Windows Server meetups or just system administration or IT support meetups. 

 

Now i think that the problem is because i am not Latino and i don't speak Spanish. And here, in Miami, everyone speaks Spanish (and to be honest i tired of that, i want to hear normal English speech). And the vast majority of the job positions require or desire a bilingual person (well i am bilingual too, but they want spanish/english not english/russian ). I think this is the main reason why i can't find the job. So i start thinking to relocate to the another state, or city at least.

 

I was thinking about Texas, because i heard this state has a lot of IT jobs. But the cons of that is the heat (yes, i already tired from Miami heat too), again, a lot of Latino people, which means that probably they require the knowledge of Spanish language, and it is very far away from Miami. (I am planing to move by my car, and i am not experienced driver, so for me such type of trip is a big challenge).

 

Second, i heard a lot good things about North Carolina, but unfortunately i don't know the situation with IT jobs over there. 

 

So what do you think guys? Where i should to move? Texas or North Carolina? Or maybe it is better to try Orlando or Tampa first? All your advises about Computer Science degree and certifications are very important of course, but this is in the far future. Now i need to find job.



#14 Kilroy

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 07:50 AM


i don't speak Spanish. And here, in Miami, everyone speaks Spanish
 

This is your problem.  Not speaking perfect English isn't as much of an issue as not speaking English and Spanish well.  You're going to see this as an issue is most of the southern states that border Mexico.  I would think that you're going to have issues where you are due to not speaking Spanish.

 

If you're going to move I would suggest North Carolina over Texas, you're going to see pretty much the same issue in Texas, but I don't know if it will be as severe.  The great thing about living now is that you can check the job postings to see how many there are and if they require bi-lingual speakers.  You may actually try looking for positions that speak Russian (assuming that is your primary language) where you would be at an advantage.  I don't know that there are a lot of people looking for English/Russian speaking IT people, but there have to be a few.



#15 King_Yoshi

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 02:13 PM

But i am looking for IT job, i mean, just technical job position. I don't need to impress anybody with my great speech or super professional resume... At least in Moscow nobody cares about that, they just need to see your knowledge and experience, if they match the position requirements, they will call you and make an appointment, where IT-professional will check your knowledge and experience during conversation. Very simple and fair. No stupid tests with many stupid questions, no worthless talks with people, who are not in IT, and etc..

 

Is that so in USA process of finding the job is completely different? 

 

I don't mind to pay to get professional resume. I just don't understand, why i should to do that, if i am heading for ENTRY level positions. I would understand, if some really smart and experienced man with dozens of certifications and 10 years experience is looking for IT - chief position with good salary and benefits. Then yes, he needs to make professional resume. But in my case what it would change?

 

1.) I hate to say it, but most entry level IT positions require great communication skills. (And this is coming from someone who works in a large international organization with people from around the world.)
Sadly many US/American companies are not too friendly to non-native speakers. But you may have better luck if you look at International organizations, who also hire from abroad.
I personally know this since I have worked with recruiters in the past for contracting positions.
Also, you are correct, many people who do the initial screenings/over the phone interviews are nothing but basic Human Resources employees or recruiters and know absolutely nothing about the position. This is very normal.
You may need to go through a few rounds of interviews just to get an entry level position.

 

Tests are a norm at larger companies. But you will almost never see this when applying for a IT position at a smaller company or startup.

The market is quite competitive for IT positions , at the moment. Much of the time the recruiters or HR (Human Resources) is looking for a Bachelors Degree in IT, plus certifications, plus work experience.

 

2.) Your resume is very important. Most Human Resource departments receive hundreds of resumes at a time. If yours does not stick out, you wont even receive so much as a call back or a thank you for applying.

The resume gets you the interview.

Your interpersonal and communication skills get you past the first round of interviews with Human Resources.

 

Your IT skills and knowledge then get you the job once you are interviewed by the technical manager or team.

 

 

Now, i realize, that it is not very big pleasure to talk with somebody, who is not fluent in your language and has an accent. But come on, i am not applying for bank/client representative position! I am applying to for Desktop support/helpdesk/IT technician! For entry level! These guys are spending most time of their job just fixing broken computers, or deploying new ethernet-cables in the office, or helping users.

Yes, but you are constantly interacting with and communicating with users. Which is why the communication skills are important.
This may vary, but in many helpdesk positions you need to visit the users and work with them to fix problems, on a regular basis.
 

I had spoken with Indian guy from tech support of MetroPCS, and it was a torture, because i didn't understand almost the half of his words, so strong his accent was! I mean, Americans at least understand me in most cases.

The Indian guy, is not located in the United States. He is located in a call center in India, which is contracted out by a US company.

 

 

Now i think that the problem is because i am not Latino and i don't speak Spanish. And here, in Miami, everyone speaks Spanish (and to be honest i tired of that, i want to hear normal English speech). And the vast majority of the job positions require or desire a bilingual person (well i am bilingual too, but they want spanish/english not english/russian ). I think this is the main reason why i can't find the job. So i start thinking to relocate to the another state, or city at least.

That can very well be the reason. I also have not heard of too many IT jobs in that region.
Some major IT hubs in the US include the following places; Austin Texas, New York City in New York, San Francisco Bay Area in California (Also known as Silicon Valley), Seattle in Washington, Baltimore in Maryland / Washington DC / Virginia area...
There are many more but those are many of the major ones.

Just remember that speaking both English and Russian can be a great asset!! Try researching some Russian companies that operate in the United States and see if there are any positions available
I have a  few friends that were hired by companies such as Wolkswagen and SAP because they could speak both German and English.






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