So, in those first few months after I got my A+, I tried some old school kind of things, like cold-calling local businesses in my home town, walking up to the doors of some of the bigger corporations (my hometown is the host of Aflac, home of that annoying duck voiced by Gilbert Godfrey) and, eventually, driving up to the local metropolis—Atlanta, in my case—and doing the same thing there. I actually didn’t have a lot of success finding a job that way, but I did learn a few important lessons about the hunt. For instance, be prepared for a large degree of cluelessness on the part of human resource personnel. As it turns out, most people don’t know what an A+ or Net+ certification means, who CompTIA is and why any of that stuff is important. Try not to get discouraged when you hit roadblocks like that. You can actually use that cluelessness as a conversation starter to explain what your certification means. At the very least, it gives you the opportunity to explain your qualifications and what sort of job roll you might be able to play.
Learn to market yourself. This is a big one. And, today, you have so many places to market yourself for free. Start a blog about the job hunt and the things you’re doing to stay current in the industry and get hired. Leverage all those social networking sites you’re a part of. I’ve seen three people get jobs simply by posting a status message that says, “Hey, I just got my whatever certification and if anyone knows anybody looking, let me know!” I have a former CPA relative that gets Facebook contacts hired to positions at his previous customers’ places of business all the time.
Another thing to keep in mind: you’re now officially “that guy or gal” that your friends go to for basic technical support. In our ever more connected society, that’s networking you just can’t buy. So, sure, go fix Aunt Patty’s printer problem; but make sure you tell her to let her friends and associates know what a great techie you are. Within a month or so of doing pro bono work for your circle of acquaintances, you should have a pretty nice list of contacts you can mine for job search data.
Also, don’t be afraid to join groups, forums, chat rooms, etc. for technicians. Not only will places like that prove to be an invaluable resource on the job—I spend no less than 3 hours daily doing research for my job—but having industry contacts like that can produce jobs and tips on which certifications, moving forward, will be the best investment. Plus, it’ll keep you honest and force you to stay relevant in this constantly changing industry.
Oh—you have to be creative in how you use your certification. You don’t have to be an end-user desktop technician with an A+. There are many ways you can turn your technical expertise into a job, and limiting yourself to the basic definition of what an A+ holder is limits your potential. I spent one summer building custom computers for folks in my neighborhood and eventually took my certification into technical writing. Consider offering a consulting service to area businesses when it comes to purchasing technologies. The point is, you don’t have to be pigeon holed into what CompTIA defines the A+ providing. Truthfully, having an A+ sets you apart from the rest of the general population as uniquely qualified to handle computer equipment.
And the big important point to make: the A+ is not a destination, it’s a stop on the road. As cheesy as that sounds, you can’t rest with just the A+. The best thing to keep you motivated in your job hunt is to always be looking at the next certification, making decisions about how you want to spend your time in the tech world. Biggest #1 mistake I made was that I got my A+ and said, “There, done, I’m a PC tech, let’s go get a job.” Within six months the technologies I studied for were totally outdated. Plus, it shows employers that you’re dedicated to the industry when you can say: “So, I just got my A+ about a month ago, and now I’m knee deep studying for the CCNA—I really want to be a network engineer down the road.” That sort of thing impresses people—like, you’ll be a good investment because you’ll be constantly bringing new ideas and information.
I want to leave you with a couple of thoughts about you’re A+ certification. The guys that have been in the industry for a long time tend to look down on the A+. Like it’s so basic it’s not worth talking about. Don’t get discouraged by that kind of talk. It’s easy to look down on a “noob” in the field when you’ve been in the business for fifteen years and your business card reads like half the alphabet. Everyone starts somewhere and having that A+ really is something to be proud of.
To learn more about CompTIA A+ Certification, visit PrepLogic at www.preplogic.com/vendors/comptia.aspx or call 1-800-418-6789.