Although a few years ago Tom Huff had a good job working as an assistant manager for a big box retailer, he had his sights set on a career in IT.
When he enrolled at UMGC, ultimately he decided to pursue a dual major and earn a bachelor’s degree in both computer networking and cybersecurity.
Breaking into the technology field
In order to get his footing in his chosen profession, Huff accepted a job answering phones for an IT consultancy. As he gained experience, his responsibilities increased, and he began providing technical support to clients.
Although he was grateful to have real-world IT experience for his resume, he knew there wouldn’t be an opportunity to achieve his long-term career goals with his current employer.
“I was looking to get into a software development role,” he explains. “A lot of software developers don’t know about the networking side of things. There’s a huge knowledge gap between the two, and I’m looking at the opportunity to fill that gap.”
Although he was still in school and working his way up from an entry-level position, Huff knew he needed to take his future into his own hands.
“If I am going to get noticed, this is when it is going to happen,” he said.
Leveraging Career Services tools to get ahead
Although Huff knew UMGC’s Career Services office offered tools and resources to students and alumni via CareerQuest, he hadn’t considered trying them until his creative writing instructor had his class use the VMock resume critique tool as part of an assignment.
“I thought I had a fairly strong resume,” Huff said, “but VMock changed how I look at my resume and also showed me how employers look at my resume.”
Based on feedback from VMock, he began using more technical jargon in his resume and adding more specific information, which made him sound more knowledgeable to potential employers. He noticed results right away.
“I really started to get some traction. I applied to a lot of jobs before that, but many times I wouldn’t hear anything back,” he says. “After I made the changes to my resume, I got a lot of responses to my applications and started getting interviews.”
Inspired by these results, Huff decided to use the VMock’s LinkedIn review tool, too. VMock walked him through the optimization process, from downloading his LinkedIn profile to uploading it into VMock so the tool could evaluate it and make recommendations for improvement.
“It was simple,” he says.
VMock analyzed Huff’s LinkedIn profile from top to bottom, looking at whether he posted a photo of himself, which skills he highlighted and how relevant his experience is to hiring managers in his desired field of employment.
“VMock really helped me have a fresh perspective on my resume and my LinkedIn profile,” he notes. “If you’re not strong at writing a resume, it’s invaluable.”
Rounding out his job search preparations, Huff also used VMock Elevator Pitch to get ready for job interviews. This tool helped him practice answering common interview questions and provided him with feedback on the quality of his responses, body language, eye contact and voice.
“If you are not great at speaking with people, this gives you the opportunity to practice,” he says.
Looking ahead to a new beginning
Armed with a strong resume, a relevant LinkedIn profile and persuasive interview skills, Huff felt confident applying for his dream job at New Jersey Department of the Treasury.
“It was a long shot,” he admits. “I didn’t think I would get an interview.”
After two months he did, and he made such a positive impression on interviewers that he landed the position.
“It’s nice to get to where I was going,” he says.
Huff credits UMGC’s CareerQuest offerings for helping him secure his dream job, and he encourages other students and alumni to see what these tools can do for them, too.
“We have access to these free tools,” he stresses. “Why not take advantage of them?”
Log into CareerQuest today to access additional UMGC career tools and resources.