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IT career advice to wow future employers

There are many ways to land your dream IT job, but knowing what interviewers are going to ask, what new roles are emerging and how to talk business are especially important.

As new roles emerge in an ever-changing technology market, finding good IT career advice can be a challenge. From difficult interview questions to finding the right role for your skills, an IT job hunt is daunting. Meanwhile, organizations have to keep up with industry trends -- particularly those around big data, security and cloud -- to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to staffing an IT team.

Here is some IT career advice to consider, ranging from technology trends to watch and interview questions to anticipate.

Consider cloud, security and big data

While the pace of computing increases in the cloud, the chance for errors and mistakes can also rise. This means IT professionals with a wide range of cloud computing knowledge are in high demand. Organizations are hiring for various cloud computing roles, such as cloud integration specialists and cloud brokers, who can also bring strong business perspective.

To find IT jobs in big data -- another hot trend in the market -- a broad knowledge of both the business and analytical side is required. A big data analyst, for example, can narrow the gap between the business and technology by knowing the right questions to ask, and the right processing jobs to perform, to get value from massive data sets.

Candidates with a wider knowledge of IT security, and experience with new technologies like cloud and big data, are especially valuable. Security experts who can use next-generation applications to monitor and log events become first responders when something goes wrong. IT pros with backgrounds in networking, scripting and traffic analysis would be an ideal fit.

Ace these interview questions

The most frequently suggested IT career advice available involves the interview. After you find IT jobs that you're interested in, you're going to have to secure an interview -- the first face-to-face interaction you'll have with a potential employer.

Candidates with a wider knowledge of IT security, and experience with new technologies like cloud and big data, are especially valuable.

One of the most common questions employers ask is: "What experience do you have?" Most organizations look for IT candidates with years of hands-on experience and a background in the field. For example, it would be beneficial for a web or application administrator to have extensive experience with Windows or Linux systems.

During the interview, the employer will likely ask you to talk about your current role. Describe the technical details -- such as the IT tools you are familiar with -- but also touch on the business side, such as how you've strengthened relationships with other departments.

Prepare to discuss how you handle issues that come up during the work day. Explain your disaster recovery policies, security strategy and troubleshooting techniques.

Find IT jobs that target the users

IT jobs that emphasize the importance of user experience and service delivery are also in demand, spurring the development of roles such as application performance expert or user experience expert.

IT teams no longer just support the hardware and software a business runs. Instead, the business-IT relationship is evolving, with IT suggesting new services to provide. Bridging the gap between business and technology can be difficult, but employees with a background in app performance management and IT as a service can meet those demands.

Remember flexibility is key in ops roles

An IT ops role is often difficult, but underappreciated. Staying flexible and calm under fire is a smart way of improving a bad situation.

For example, a budget battle often causes a rift between IT ops teams and the business. To avoid this, outline exactly why a product would be helpful for IT and the business, and build a strong line of communication across your team. To mitigate risks, ask potential vendors for customer references before a purchase.

Pick your battles to keep a strong relationship, and treat everyone in the business as an end user.

Don't slam the door on the way out

When the time comes to leave your current position, take this IT career advice to heart: Don't burn any bridges. The IT world is highly connected, so slamming the door on the way out could hurt your professional reputation down the road.

If time permits, write everything down for the person taking over your role -- as well as your manager -- and explain what your day-to-day tasks look like. You don't want phone calls about problems at your old position after you leave.

Make sure your replacement has high-enough permissions to access the information she needs to do the job. Take the time to work through permission issues with managers and staff, and assure them that they have their own access.

Request that no new projects get assigned to you so you can tie up loose ends. But, if something new comes in, it's a good opportunity to teach someone else the proper procedures and how to work through it.

Next Steps

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This was last published in October 2016

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