The IT sector is constantly changing with developments and advancements in technology. Some roles in this area can be highly technical - requiring knowledge of software management and coding - whilst other jobs require a high degree of soft skills, such as communication skills, problem solving skills and an eye for detail when selling products, developing ideas and new ways of working.
Fortunately, despite recent challenges posed by COVID-19, the UK’s information technology sector has shown its resilience through continued growth, with skilled workers, including recent graduates, needed to supply a dynamic workforce.
Figures from Tech Nation’s UK tech in 2020 review (sourced through Prospects.ac.uk) identified that just under three million people were employed in the UK’s digital tech economy - an increase of 11 percent within two years. Furthermore, at the end of 2020 a tenth of all UK job vacancies were tech roles, with continued growth in 2021.
Whilst large IT companies are typical recruiters of computing and IT professionals, the public sector, telecommunications, financial services, retail, manufacturing and games development companies also largely recruit in this area.
Where do I start?
A sector overview
As you are starting to explore the broad range of opportunities in the IT sector, you could work in or across a number of areas. These include, but are not limited to, applications development; computer forensics; content or information management; cyber security and risk management; data analysis and analytics; programming; software engineering; systems or network management; technical support or telecommunications.
Many employers in this sector will require graduates to work in their business, marketing, HR and finance functions, so opportunities will be varied. You may also consider roles outside of the sector, including in IT functions of retail, finance, manufacturing and/or public sector organisations.
Examples of larger-scale/global companies in this sector include Accenture, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Facebook, FDM Group, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung and Softcat, to name a few. However, it is also important to consider there are many smaller businesses and tech start-ups that will be seeking graduates for entry-level roles. Many organisations will provide a range of specialist services - perhaps offering consultancy and technical roles.
The key industry trends to keep in mind, include business transformation and organisational change. Driven by changes and advancements in digital technologies, use of data and secure storage of data remain priorities, linked to cybersecurity, cloud, IT governance, automation, Agile methods, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Changes in legislation, including to GDPR, have also impacted on roles. For instance, there are implications for big data professionals who will need to demonstrate skills in AWS, Python, Spark, Tableau and Java, to name a few.
To explore potential roles in further detail, Prospects has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements, career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.
Job roles in this sector include (but are not restricted to):
- Applications developer
- Business analyst
- Cyber Security analyst
- Data analyst
- Forensic computer analyst
- Games developer
- Geographical information systems officer
- Information security specialist
- Information systems manager
- IT consultant
- IT technical support officer
- Machine learning engineer
- Multimedia specialist
- Network engineer
- Penetration tester
- Software engineer
- Systems analyst
- Telecommunications researcher
- UX designer
- Web developer
As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.
- BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT, is the industry body for professionals and a Chartered Institute for Information Technology (IT). The website provides a wide range of information and advice including job profiles, qualifications and training.
- TARGETJobs – An extensive career hub offering advice on the IT sector covering: how to get started in the sector, applications and interviews, training and development, industry news, and graduate jobs, schemes and work experience opportunities.
- TARGETJobs – Also offers a jargon buster for job titles within the IT industry in their dedicated IT and Technology guide - please refer to page 60.
- Computer Weekly – Latest IT news and features from areas such as IT management, networks and communications, software, hardware, research and jobs.
- BBC – Latest news and emerging technologies from the BBC.
- JobStats – A detailed picture of the computing job market in the UK. You can discover which skills employers are looking for, where jobs are being offered, and how much you can expect to get paid.
- Bubble Jobs – A careers portal to help jobseekers discover different jobs and careers available in the digital industry.
- Cyber Security Jobs – jobs covering a wide range of specialist Cyber Security job positions such as Vulnerability Assessor, Penetration Tester and Security Auditor to name a few. There are full time, contract, part time and internship roles you can search by location too.
While this sector is growing and employment is buoyant, job opportunities often involve a competitive application process and the number of people applying for jobs can be high. Candidates who have previous (relevant) experience are viewed favourably by employers as they have developed important knowledge, skills and expertise; giving them the cutting edge against other candidates.
However finding experience will take time and effort, employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through the Careers and Employability Service website.
The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and organise your experience in good time. Consider small and medium size companies, as well as larger organisations to help to widen your search for experience.
As part of your degree programme you may have the opportunity to take part in a salaried placement year, either in the UK or overseas to gain proven industrial experience by the time you graduate. This will provide you with an invaluable insight into working life and offer a unique opportunity to apply the industry knowledge you are learning as part of your studies.
Placements will also enable you to gain transferable skills in the workplace, such as communication, teamwork and time management, in addition to finding out more about a specific job role or industry, which will lead to more informed decisions upon graduating. To find out more about the range of different companies and roles students in your area have previously worked with, please find out more on the University website.
To find out more about sourcing and arranging your placement, we would encourage you to get in contact with your placement office. Find their contact information on the University website.
An internship is usually a work experience opportunity that is offered for a fixed period or a limited amount of time. Internships tend to be undertaken by students and graduates who are looking to gain more relevant/industry specific skills and experience in their particular field.
These opportunities can be paid for a period of between one to four months and typically take place over the summer, with closing dates generally around January to March, but some can be earlier.
Finding placement and internship opportunities
The websites below provide further information about placement and internship opportunities across computing and IT:
- MyCareer – the Careers and Employability Service's online jobs board can be used to search for internships, work experience and summer opportunities across sectors and locations.
- RateMyPlacement – offers information on placements, internships, insights and work experience jobs with a range of IT companies in the UK.
- Gradcracker – as the UK’s careers website for Technology students, Gradcracker provides a search function for placements and internships relevant to your degree discipline.
- TARGETjobs – provides a specific section on different career sectors, with the ability to search for placement and internship opportunities in IT and technology.
- Prospects – has its own search tool for work experience opportunities across sectors, including information technology.
- Milkround – provides a search tool for internships and industrial placements across sectors, including IT and related business support roles.
Getting involved in volunteering gives you the opportunity to develop employability skills and experience a variety of working environments to assist you in discovering the right career path for you. It provides the chance to network, meet new friends and boost your confidence.
Volunteering also enables you to gain practical experience and working examples to support your graduate applications. If you choose to commit a significant amount of time and impress the organisation during your volunteering, they may also provide you with a professional reference.
Volunteer to get practical experience
Approaching local organisations, charities or community groups who would benefit from your skills is one way of gaining that all-important experience. The competencies developed will be invaluable and enhance any speculative applications you make.
The Careers and Employability Service offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank, which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. Similarly, you can access these opportunities through the paper-based bank located in the Careers and Employability Centre.
Examples of computing and IT-related roles that the Volunteering Team have previously advertised and recruited for include:
- Computer Club Volunteer with Personal Choice – assisting members with developing their general computer skills, including using Microsoft software packages, internet security and online safety basics.
- Online Operator Volunteer with Rowans Hospice – supporting the Online Sales Manager to post fundraising items online; enhancing skills in e-commerce and gaining experience of income generation.
- App Developer Volunteer with Pompey in the Community – working alongside Play More Pompey and the Web Design company – One2Create – to develop apps for iOS and Android to increase community engagement in events and football sessions.
- Lead Computer Tutor Volunteer with Citizens Advice Gosport – overseeing the delivery of computer workshops for members of the public and training and guiding Volunteer Assistant Tutors to develop the workshop courses following evaluation of the training.
- Code Club Leader with Code Club – running a weekly coding session with other volunteers for children aged 9 to 11 years old to deliver games, animations and websites, including developing skills in Scratch, HTML, CSS and Python.
- STEM Ambassador – supporting a local school or community youth group by helping to inspire young people to make the most of their talents and pursue careers in STEM.
These opportunities will provide you with invaluable experience and an opportunity to develop and enhance multiple transferable skills that you will be able to discuss as part of future applications.
If you have any questions regarding the volunteering opportunities available to you in Portsmouth then please contact the Volunteering Team on email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips for success when looking for experience
Consider your requirements
Initially, it is important to identify whether or not there is specific experience you wish to gain within computing or information technology or could your search be broader where you are looking to gain transferable skills?
Some key considerations for your search may include:
- Are you looking for experience that relates to a specific unit you are taking as part of your university course?
- What are your career goals and aspirations? How might the opportunity help you work towards these?
- Are there any gaps in your skillset that need to be addressed? How might an opportunity enable you to fill this gap?
- What is the time commitment and location of the role? Does this fit in with your plans and other commitments during term time or over the summer period?
- What type of organisation would you like to gain experience with? A bigger national or multinational company? A small to medium-sized enterprise, charity of not-for-profit organisation?
Make sure you carry out thorough research
Explore the various areas within computing and information technology before you apply for work experience. Are you interested in working with applications, analysis or data? Do you have a specific goal to work on web design or development? Does consultancy or management appeal to you? As a starting point take a look at the job profiles included on the Prospects website to consider the type of work experience recommended and the skills you will need to develop to enhance graduate applications to specific roles.
Use your initiative and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively – send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.
Create a positive online presence
Finding a job
There are many different areas within the computing and IT sector and work can be varied. Some of the areas you could get involved in include: translating software requirements into programming code; maintaining and developing programs and/or websites; cyber security; technical support; pre-sales, sales and post-sale support of hardware and software; quality assurance of software development and deployment, so some thought as to which area(s) you are particularly interested in will help you to target your job search.
Employers who recruit in these areas
- Health, financial, leisure, utility (such as gas, electricity, water), telecommunication and retail services
- Local and national government agencies
- Advertising, marketing and mobile phone companies
- Educational institutions
- IT companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
Useful websites to help you start your job search
- Cyber Security Jobsite – A job site aimed at candidates looking to work within the cyber security environment.
- Technojobs – A technical recruitment site specialising in the IT, telecoms, engineering and electronics industries.
- Datascope Recruitment – Vacancies in the games industry.
- IT Jobs – A jobs board offering insights and connections to technical job opportunities.
- Computing – The latest IT and computer jobs, at all levels with leading UK employers.
- Women in Technology – The latest jobs, news and events for women in the technology industry.
- Fish4jobs – Jobs in IT, engineering, telecommunications, building, construction, electronics, aerospace and avionics.
- CWjobs – An IT recruitment website enabling permanent and contract IT jobseekers to search and apply for jobs across all skills and industry sectors.
- Unicorn Hunt – A tech jobs board.
- WISE – Job vacancies focused on STEM occupations.
- Jobtensor – A specialist recruiter across IT and engineering.
Tips for finding a job
- Keep up to date with computing and IT news and trends by following the professional bodies on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, this information might help you identify opportunities to network and tap into the hidden job market.
- Keep your on line job search flexible as some employers might use different titles to describe the same job role.
- If you are keen to focus on a specific sector within computing and IT, check out the specialist websites for these areas for current vacancies.
If you need more information on working in computing and IT, why not check out some of the resources below to help you to research the sector in more depth.
- Prospects – Careers website which provides job vacancy information, an overview of the IT employment sector and careers advice.
- ISACA – A professional body which provides certification in information systems auditing, information security management, risk and information systems control, and the governance of enterprise.
- Microsoft Learning – Training for beginners to experienced IT professionals on Microsoft products and technologies.
- TARGETjobs – A careers website which provides careers advice, an overview of employment sectors and job vacancy information.
- ISSA-UK – A leading membership association for the cyber security industry.
- Game Developer – News and trends in the gaming industry.
- 3D World – Up to date information, creative tips and inspiration for web design, graphic design, 3D and more.
- Agency Central – A platform connecting job seekers to recruitment consultants.
- Frank Recruitment Group – A global recruiter of niche technology professionals, with subdivisions covering specific tech industries.
- PING IT Recruitment – Specialises in IT recruitment.
- Jump IT Recruitment Solutions – Connects IT, web and technology based job seekers with employers.
- 100% IT Recruitment – Permanent and Contract IT Recruitment across the UK, with specialist consultants in all areas of IT.
- Reed – Recruitment consultancy with a specialist site for IT jobs and careers in telecommunication.
- Datascope Recruitment – A recruitment consultancy for the games, online and mobile technology industries.
- Amiqus – Recruitment specialists for the games industry.
The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:
- Career options
- Further study
- CV and covering letters
- Application forms
- Job search
We have an online jobs board advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.