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Build a business case: developing custom apps

Comment We're barely into December, but let's not forget what awaits us when all the parties are over and 2013 rudely slaps us awake.

January is a time of festive hangovers, belt tightening and making resolutions that will be broken by February.

But the beginning of a new year also tends to spur the more adventurous into a fresh bout of job seeking. Those with an interest in tech and who fancy working in a dynamic, vibrant industry with great career prospects could do a lot worse than look at joining a reseller.

Youth unemployment may be falling but there are still almost one million 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK out of work, and while it won’t be right for everyone, if I had my time over again I’d certainly be looking at a job in a reseller as a smart career move.

It’s increasingly seen as a breeding ground for IT enthusiasts who don’t necessarily have the requisite qualifications or experience to join a tech vendor from the start.

Partly for this reason, they tend to be workplaces with a younger average age and a more active culture of post-work socialising, but it’s no easy ride, and staff turnover can be dauntingly high.

At one reseller I know, 40 people are recruited each month, but around 20 leave every six months because they can’t hack it. You need to be tenacious and up for the challenge – shrinking violets need not apply. There can also be a disconcerting amount of shakeups and consolidation in the reseller and distribution world, which may deter those who prize stability above opportunity.

There are more sales roles in this industry than any other, and it can be a great place to cut your teeth before moving on to a job at a tech vendor, a more senior position within a reseller or even outside the technology sphere altogether.

There are many who eventually make the move over to the vendor side because the wages tend to be higher and, to be frank, because it is an easier route than trying to start your career at a vendor.

Especially in times of economic uncertainty, vendors are more likely to choose recruits with proven ability than go for a candidate new to the industry. This isn’t to say some don’t do it the other way around, of course - senior reseller roles that pay better can attract candidates from the vendor community - but these companies are few and far between.

Those reseller employees looking to get their feet under the table at a tech vendor need to remember that vendors can be a very different environment than the one they’re used to, and not just because their coworkers will tend to consist more of married types with families than single thrill-seekers.

Resellers tend to be more localised – look at the industry in York for example – so you may have to expect relocation if you later want to work for a vendor, and the work will likely require more interaction with colleagues and business units in different countries. An open collaborative approach to your job is essential in managing this aspect of the role smoothly.

I’d also caution that those who move over to a vendor because they think it will give them a higher level of access than they’ve been used to in their reseller role are mistaken. There’s certainly no guarantee you’ll get the ear of the CIO because you come knocking with a different business card.

Taking the plunge in the world of the technology reseller really can be the gateway to a long and rewarding career. It’s certainly something to think about while you polish off the last of the Christmas Day turkey. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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