You’ve heard the old Catch-22 phrase, “You need experience to get a job, you need a job to get experience.”

But if you were to pit education vs. experience, which counts more on a résumé? Which is the one more likely to get you an interview?

In the world of Information Technologies what counts more (at least in the United States) is experience – but only when you actually get to the interview.

I’ll explain:

Your #1 enemy concerning “breaking the barrier” so to speak is Human Resources, better known by the abbreviated HR. They are the ones who receive job applications first, know absolutely nothing about computers or how to support them and strictly go by figures. These figures I speak of are your education credentials.

Basically put, if your education credentials match the job specifications they wrote up, you can breeze right past HR. But if what’s on your résumé doesn’t conform you’ll get a “thanks but no thanks” letter.

Assuming you get past HR, after that it all boils down to experience and what type of tech job you’re applying for.

Some examples:

Help Desk / Support

Does your résumé answer the following questions:

  • Are you a “people person”?
  • Can you handle stress and lots of it?
  • Do you show up on time to work every day?
  • Are you a “team player”?
  • Can you work quickly and effectively with little supervision?
  • Can you follow directions easily?
  • Do you know how to use a call ticket system at all?

As you can see from above, those questions have nothing to do with computers at all but rather how you conduct yourself in a support environment.

PC Technician

Does your résumé answer the following question:

  • Have you ever deployed 25 or more PCs – ever?
  • Are you familiar with how to answer support tickets properly?
  • Do you have a pleasant demeanor?
  • Are you willing to travel between offices – even if out-of-state?
  • Are you willing to be strapped with a pager/cell phone and be “on call”?
  • Have you ever been on the phone for desktop/laptop issues as a corporate customer with a major OEM (Dell, IBM, etc.)?
  • Have you ever repaired a laptop – ever?
  • Can you work well with others?
  • Can you follow directions quickly, effectively and with minimal supervision?

Being an in-house PC Technician is not about sitting in an office all day putting brand new computers together – not by a long shot.

You’re going to be running around all day and dealing with OLD computers that are most likely slow and obsolete. You have to know how to answer, field and close support tickets properly. You have to know how to escalate support tickets properly.

Most of all, you have to know how to do your job making absolute minimal contact with your boss all day long. If you can do that without him or her receiving one single phone call asking where you are – you’re doing your job.

Programmer

Does your résumé answer the following questions:

  • What have you programmed?
  • Can you adapt?

Those are the only two questions that need answering. What have you programmed and where can it be seen? And more importantly, can you deal with the absolute MESS the last programmer left behind easily?

Companies want programmers (in standard corporate environments) that are NOT creative people. Your job is to simply make sure the database doesn’t crash and that people in the office-place can keep working. That’s what you do. And yes you will be paid handsomely for it.

But don’t get any pipe dream ideas that it’s going to be a wonderful happy-fun place where you can do whatever you want. No, sir. You just make sure the back-end keeps working, the front-end is something people can use and you’ll get paid.

It’s not as glamorous as some would think – but it does pay well.

To note: The best kind of demeanor you can have as a programmer is if you’re a silent type of person. If you’re loud and rambunctious, you won’t last long.

Final notes:

Pray an audit team doesn’t visit. This video explains it best:

Then again it’s probably true your manager, supervisor or team lead who would deal with audit teams and not you.

That’s a perk of not being a manager. 🙂

Remember, the job description is only what HR wrote up. Once you cross that hurdle, your experience and demeanor will count after that once on the interview.

Facts and figures on paper mean nothing if you don’t have the “street smart” skills to back it up.