"Help Wanted: Experienced Oracle Administrator. Will Relocate."
"SQL Server Database Engineer Needed Immediately!"
"Now Hiring Data Warehousing Professionals"
If you've been reading the IT industry's help wanted ads recently, there's no doubt you've come across a number of ads seeking professional database administrators, designers and developers. Have you ever considered crossing over into these fields yourself? Have you found yourself wondering what it would take to make such a career move?
There are three main types of qualifications that will help you in your quest to obtain employment in the database industry (or any other IT field, for that matter). These are experience, education and professional credentials. The ideal candidate’s resume describes a balanced mix of criteria from each of these three categories. That said, most employers don’t have a predetermined formula that they use to determine which candidates are asked to interview and which resumes get thrown in the circular file. If your work experience reflects a long history of increasingly responsible positions in a related field, a potential employer might not be interested in the fact that you don’t have a college degree. On the other hand, if you recently earned a graduate degree in computer science and wrote a master’s thesis on database optimization you’d also probably be an attractive candidate despite the fact that you are fresh out of school.
Let’s take a look at each one of these categories in detail. As you read through them, try to assess yourself against the criteria mentioned. Better yet, print out a copy of this article and a copy of your resume and give them to a trusted friend. Let them review your background in light of these criteria and give you an idea of where you would stand in the eyes of an employer. Remember: if it’s not described properly on your resume in a manner that attracts the eye of an overworked hiring manager, you didn’t do it!
Every job searcher is familiar with the novice’s paradox: “You can’t get a job without experience but you can’t get experience without a job.” If you’re an aspiring database professional without any work experience in the field, what are your options?
If you truly have no work experience in the IT industry, your best bet is probably going to be seeking out an entry-level job working at a help desk or in a junior database analyst position. Granted, these jobs are not glamorous and won't help you buy that palatial home in the suburbs. However, this type of "in the trenches" work will give you exposure to a variety of tools and techniques. After you've spent a year or two working in this type of environment you should be ready to either seek a promotion at your current place of employment or fire up the word processor to add this newfound experience to your resume.
If you have related IT experience, you have a bit more flexibility. You’re probably qualified to find a higher-level position as a system administrator or similar role. If your eventual goal is to become a database administrator, seek out a smaller company that uses databases in their day-to-day operations. Chances are, they won’t be too concerned about your lack of database experience if you’re familiar with some of the other technologies they use. Once you’re on the job, gradually begin to assume some database administration roles and before you know it you’ll be a skilled database administrator through on-the-job training!
If neither of these options work for you, consider volunteering your database skills for a local nonprofit organization. If you spend some time making a few phone calls, you’ll undoubtedly discover a worthy organization that could make use of a database designer/administrator. Take on a couple of these projects, add them to your resume and hit the FAX machine again!