Stiff competition is a defining attribute in the IT job market. Although ranked consistently as a desirable sector for its numerous job opportunities and excellent salary and benefits, securing a job in it is easier said than done. The rate of emerging graduates hustling their way into the IT sector is increasing daily, and it can be a challenge to stand out with just a diploma on hand. So how can young people distinguish themselves from the competition and get the IT role they want? It is all about having valuable work experience that hiring managers are looking for, and that is what Lime House Solutions is aiming to give to aspiring IT professionals.
Our team recently got in touch with Martin, one of the senior consultants at Lime House Solutions. He shared with us his insights in the current state of the IT job market and how their programs are helping young people have an edge over other applicants for IT roles and navigate the job market with confidence.
Below is our recent interview with Martin Bailey, from Lime House Solutions:
Q: Can you give us a bit of background about Lime House Solutions?
A: We are a recruitment and professional development specialist. We mainly work with the entry-level job market, which means we connect new graduates or career shifters with hiring companies and vice versa. We recruit for the IT sector, filling in open roles like IT technician, CAD technician, web developer and designer, software engineer, and cyber security specialist with qualified entry-level talents.
Aside from recruitment, we apply our skills in professional development by providing mentorship and work experience programs for different IT areas and roles. These programs were developed with the input of industry professionals and are targeted to help candidates engage in career exploration and professional development, while also building valuable IT work experience.
Q: How did the idea of the company’s mentorship and work experience programs came to be?
A: We have been involved in recruitment for a long time and while working with different job seekers, one of the things we have noticed is that those who have just graduated from university or are planning to shift careers were often turned down by hiring companies because of lack of work experience. Some of those new entrants to the job market that we assisted even raised the same concern to us, saying that they were job hunting for months without success.
We recognised and acknowledged the frustration of those candidates, and that was when it occurred to us that we need to do something about this growing problem. Our team brainstormed a lot on what we can do to help give entry-level candidates a better fighting chance in the competitive job market. It took us some time to come up with a solution because of the considerations that we had to take into account. But, we are satisfied with what we have developed, which is our range of mentorship and work experience programs that cover IT areas and roles that include CAD technician, change management, cyber security, IT technician, web development, web design, UX design, and software engineering.
Q: Can you go on in detail how your mentorship and work experience programs work at Lime house Solutions?
A: So what we do is we hold interviews and assessments to determine the candidates that we can support and help in their professional development. Those who meet our qualifications are then given guaranteed work experience placements with IT companies, which we have sourced and built partnerships with.
At the start of the placement, the candidates are given access to a mentor who is a specialist in their respective IT discipline. The mentor acts as the main point of contact and will work one-on-one with a candidate, providing guidance, advice, support and feedback throughout the program.
Candidates are also given tasks and projects to complete. These activities are adapted to the functions that entry-level professionals do on a daily basis in the workplace. For instance, the candidate may be assigned to work on a web development task. The candidate needs to complete it and send the output to the mentor for checking. The mentor will then provide a feedback to help the candidate identify the areas where they excel or where they need improvement.
Each program runs for three months and is carried out online. We find this arrangement quite beneficial since the candidates can build their work experience at their own pace and wherever they are in the world. This is especially important today, given the Covid-19 pandemic that prevents people from going out and engaging in traditional work experience placements. In a way, we think that through our programs we are doing our share in slowing down the transmission of infection by enabling candidates to build their work experience at the comfort of their homes.
Q: You have mentioned earlier that Lime House Solutions recruit for the IT sector; does that mean that your programs are focused on that sector as well?
A: Yes. Since we already have the foundation in IT recruitment, targeting our programs to cover some of the areas and roles in that sector makes perfect sense. Also, the IT sector is very resilient and offers lots of employment opportunities. In fact, it is a perennial favourite among many job seekers and professionals around the world.
However, one thing that is clear to us is that it is challenging to get an IT job if you lack work experience since majority of employers want candidates who are not just tech-savvy but are actually capable of immediately working and contributing to their operations. That puts majority of new graduates and career shifters at a disadvantage because they have no work experience in the first place. Through our programs, we want to ease the burden for those candidates and help them stand out in their quest for their desired IT career.
Q: What can we look forward to with Lime House Solutions and the company’s programs?
A: Our team is continuously improving our programs to bring more value to the candidates we assist. To do that, we are working on developing partnerships with more companies not just in the IT sector, but also in other sectors where IT skills are needed. Also, we carefully vet the mentors that we accept on board our programs, making sure that they have a strong desire to develop and help others, have the time and energy to commit to a mentoring relationship, and are open to sharing their experiences, insights and skills to candidates.
Although our programs have limited coverage at the moment, we are planning on adding more IT areas and roles in our catalogue. This is to allow us to help more graduates and career shifters gain valuable work experience that will help them in qualifying for the IT jobs that they prefer.
Of course, it is not just our programs that we aim to improve. We are also building the skills of our staff so we can effectively support candidates—engaging and nurturing them to become an effective IT workforce of tomorrow.
Q: Any advice for young people who are trying to get into the IT sector but are having a difficult time getting a job?
A: Good academic background is not enough to get you a job in the IT sector. Because it is a competitive and crowded place, you want to work on adding as much experience as you can in your CV to let prospective employers know that you are putting your time to good use by investing in your professional development, and that you are prepared for the challenges that working in the IT sector can bring.
Sure, many of the work experience programs you will find today do not provide monetary compensation. So it is important to manage your expectations early on. Also, do not look at this negatively and instead consider the rewards that you can gain from a program. You may not be paid for the work you will put in, but you will be able to develop IT job skills and experience that will be invaluable in your job search. You really need to keep an open mind when trying to build your work experience. After all, when you are done with it, you will have an edge that can increase your chances for employment.