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If you are looking to enter the information technology industry, a helpdesk role can be a great place to start. There are many benefits to this kind of entry-level position, which can really help kickstart your IT career.

Working as a helpdesk professional (sometimes called a Helpdesk Officer, Support Analyst or simply ‘IT support’), you’ll be providing technical support and troubleshooting to users who need assistance with hardware or software. Such a role will give you a broader understanding of the IT industry as a whole, as well as an idea of the future direction you might like to take in your career. It will also help you expand and refine your skills, ready for future roles.

Below, I’ve put together a few basic steps for seeking out your first IT helpdesk job. This simple process will help you set yourself on the path to a successful long-term career in IT.

Step 1: Sharpen your skills

First step: training. Before you do anything else, make sure you have the basic technical skills to take on the role. Don’t just rely on your self-taught super computer skills; having the right formal certification will assure your potential employers that you have a solid foundation in technology, and can give them everything that’s needed to meet the requirements of the position.

From there, you can continue with more vendor-specific certification programs to help you progress in your role. I particularly recommend training in Microsoft and/or Amazon (AWS).

It’s not all about the technical side, however. While IT knowledge and skills are of course essential, what’s equally important in a helpdesk role are soft skills such as great communication, patience, problem-solving and a positive attitude. This is a technical job, but it’s a people-focused one, too – you’ll be working and talking with people all day, every day.

Having a great approach to customer service is key to success as a helpdesk agent. While you’re studying for the technical side of the job, I recommend gaining experience in hospitality or retail to train and develop your customer service skills, too. Having a diverse, well-rounded skillset can help to set you apart from other candidates.

Step 2: Start your job search

Once you’ve got the skills sorted, it’s time to start looking and applying for jobs. Before you start, make sure your resume is up-to-date and picture-perfect – neat formatting and no spelling errors, with all your key qualifications and relevant experience listed.

To take advantage of the most opportunities, consider taking a two-pronged approach in your job search: responding to advertised positions and contacting organisations directly to enquire about available roles.

When seeking a helpdesk position, you have the option to work for a company internally, or work for an IT supplier. Most organisations above 200 people in size will likely have some sort of internal helpdesk function. Very large companies, such as banks, will have formal IT processes. When contacting potential organisations, perhaps target companies with teams of between 200–2000 people. Companies of this size often struggle to find good helpdesk talent and will likely have good career opportunities and fast development paths available. Read the ‘About Us’ section of their website to learn about the organisation, then locate their ‘Careers’ page and contact them directly.

Before applying for advertised positions on a job search website or LinkedIn, read the advert in full and give the potential employer a call. This will give you the opportunity to introduce yourself, find out more about the opportunity and the company, and give an enthusiastic, dedicated first impression. As I’ve stated above, the #1 skill for Level 1 IT helpdesk roles is customer service. This means clear communication and a friendly, professional and approachable demeanour is essential – something you can’t always reflect in a resume or cover letter.

Once you’ve had a conversation with any potential employer, read back through your resume and ensure it highlights the things they’re looking for. Try to speak the same language they do, and list all your relevant technical skills and customer service or IT experience.

Step 3: Prep for interview

Once you’ve secured an interview with a potential employer (congratulations!), don’t forget to prepare.

Interview prep is key. Do your research; know what questions to ask at your interview that will help you stand out, and what questions are better off being avoided! Consider likely questions the interviewer will ask about your relevant skills and experience, and prepare answers that will highlight your best qualities and skills. And remember – practice makes perfect. If you need a little extra guidance, check out our must-do job interview preparation steps to help you get ready to land that job.

I wish you all the best in your search for your first IT role! For further advice or information on jobs in the IT or digital sector, give me a call on 0455 026 816 or email me at marie-ann.thornton@gwgpartners.com.au.

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