IT recruiters usually find that candidates have their resumes ready when they first start their job search. What many candidates don’t have ready to give their technical recruiters is a good list of references. Here are 2 tips for compiling a good list of references to share with your IT staffing firms.
- Make sure the references you provide your IT recruiting companies are all people you’ve kept in touch with and are happy to act as your references. If it’s been a while since you worked with IT staffing agencies to find IT jobs, you shouldn’t assume you can simply use all your old references. Call them up, catch up with them briefly, and make sure they’re still willing to speak well of you to potential employers. If you don’t want to call them, an email or message on LinkedIn is also a fine option. It’s better to find out a reference is too busy or doesn’t feel comfortable speaking for you before sending them to your IT recruiting firms.
- Aim to build your list out of previous managers who can talk about your technical skills. The most ideal reference would be previous managers who can speak to technical skills you have that are relevant to the kinds of positions your IT staffing companies will be submitting you to. Coworkers can be ok references, but managers will impress hiring managers and IT recruiting agencies far more. Managers have the best view of the value you can add to a company.
LinkedIn has become so important in the hunt for IT jobs that now many IT recruiters find candidates there, rather than other sites. While the format of a LinkedIn profile certainly differs from a resume, the picture may be the most obvious difference. Here are some tips on how to use your Linked profile picture to make your profile more attractive to IT recruiting firms and hiring managers.
Firstly, don’t skip the picture. Even if you don’t love taking pictures, it’s best to use a picture here. IT staffing firms will be more likely to check out a profile with a picture than one without.
Secondly, make sure your picture is a good representation of you as a professional. This means a couple things, starting with the fact that the picture will ideally be of just you. Keep out family members, pets, etc. IT staffing companies are trying to figure out if you are right for the job (not your wife, kids, friends, etc). Don’t distract technical recruiters with other people or animals. Or worse, don’t make it hard for them to figure out which person in the picture is you! Making the picture a good representation of you as an IT professional also means a few things about the way you look. IT recruiting agencies want to see you in at least somewhat professional clothing. Even if you go to work in jeans and a T-shirt (as many IT professionals do!) it’s better to go with at least business casual clothing for your picture. This makes it easier for IT recruiting companies to picture you in various company environments.
The last, and possibly most important, tip to make your profile picture more attractive to IT staffing agencies is to smile in a natural way. Many, many IT jobs don’t just require you to be able to do the work. You usually need to be able to work well within a team, with managers, or even in a customer service capacity or with end users. When you smile in a friendly, unforced way, you can project that you’ve got good communication skills and are easy to work with. Looking serious or grumpy in your picture will likely make IT recruiters think twice about contacting you!
Here’s one straightforward way you can improve your resume to attract more IT recruiters and hiring managers: replace every bullet that starts with ‘responsible for’ with a professional achievement.
Why aren’t ‘responsible for’ statements on your resume as attractive to IT staffing firms? Because these statements simply tell IT recruiting companies what the description is/was for your IT jobs. While this is somewhat useful, it doesn’t really bolster your candidacy. The best bullet points, the ones that IT staffing agencies love, demonstrate the value that you can bring to a new employer. These kinds of bullet points may give some information that overlaps with a job description, but they’re very different to a hiring manager or technical recruiters.
How do you write bullet points that IT staffing companies and hiring managers want to see? Think about times you’ve improved a process, gotten a tangible or measurable result, or been commended. If you don’t have any examples like this, think about you responsibilities in various jobs. Try to identify who benefited from these responsibilities and how. You can use this information to create results-oriented statements about what you did. These are the kinds of things you want added into your resume under each job. They help employers picture what value you might be able to add to their company, team, etc.
So try taking some time to improve all these ‘responsible for’ statements on your IT resume. It will help you attract a lot more IT recruiting firms and hiring managers.
Sometimes in interviews for IT jobs, hiring managers bring up concerns they have about your candidacy. It can be tempting to quickly wave off these concerns off, especially if they seem small or not legitimate to you. IT staffing firms would suggest you don’t ignore these, though.
Here’s why you can’t wave off an interviewer’s concerns: IT recruiting companies don’t want you to respond in a cavalier way to an interviewer’s concerns because, even if it’s something that seems small, it probably has been an issue in the past for them. It’s important to take these concerns seriously and respond to them thoughtfully. IT staffing agencies would also caution that minimizing an interviewer’s concerns can make you look like you have poor communication skills or are generally difficult to manage. IT professionals who succeed at their jobs are able to make the managers, end users, or clients they speak with feel heard. They’re also willing to adjust their priorities to fit those of their team, company, client, etc. If you brush off a hiring manager’s concerns about your candidacy, you may be signaling that you’re not capable of any of these things. That will certainly make it less likely that your interviewer tells your IT recruiters they want to move forward with you in the hiring process.
Here’s how IT recruiting agencies would suggest you respond if an interviewer expresses concerns about your candidacy. Start by making sure you acknowledge them and show that you’re listening. Next, make sure you completely understand the concern. If you’re unsure, ask for clarification. Now move forward by making a case for why these concerns aren’t applicable to you, or what you’d do to compensate for them. The more specific you can get here, the better. Technical recruiters certainly see employers hire candidates they were initially unsure about. These candidates are usually just excellent at advocating for themselves in interviews.
It’s rare for IT recruiters to work with candidates who aren’t at least a little nervous to interview for IT jobs. Even for candidates who have been interviewing for years, the process can still be uncomfortable. IT staffing firms certainly see nervous candidates come through and land the job anyways. The key is to appear calm and stay focused on performing well. A big part of this is not talking about being nervous with your interviewer.
Why would IT recruiting firms strongly suggest that you not tell your interviewer you’re nervous? For some IT jobs, working under pressure at least occasionally is part of the job. A job interview is a great time to demonstrate your ability to do this. Even if it’s not an explicit part of the job description, IT staffing companies still suggest that appearing calm and giving your best performance in a job interview, a fairly high pressure situation, will still strengthen your candidacy.
Secondly, IT recruiting agencies would suggest you not talk to your interviewer about being nervous because it won’t look professional. Professionals are able to focus on what’s important and put their feelings aside, even in uncomfortable situations. Additionally, plenty of IT jobs also require good communication skills, whether with coworkers, end users, or managers. Derailing an interview with a conversation about your nervousness might give your interviewer a bad impression of your communication skills.
So the next time you’re tempted to tell your interviewer about how you nervous you are, remember this advice from IT staffing agencies suggest and hold off. Use your precious interview time to show your interviewer you’re a great candidate.
When you polish up your resume to attract IT staffing firms, you may be tempted to create fancy tables or graphs to show your technical proficiencies or achievements. Perhaps you’ve even heard that these kinds of elements might make you stand out to IT recruiting firms and hiring managers. This is terrible advice, though. Here’s why IT staffing agencies will respond better if leave fancy tables graphs, pie charts, etc off your IT resume.
Firstly, while it may take skills to create a pie chart or graph on your resume, this isn’t the impression that elements like this often give to IT recruiting companies and hiring managers. If you have a strong resume with good experience and a great arsenal of technical proficiencies, you don’t need any special gimmicks to make your resume stand out to IT recruiting agencies. If you do use these elements, you’re distracting from the strength of your candidacy and suggesting you may not understand professional norms.
Another reason IT staffing companies wouldn’t suggest you use any graphs, pie charts, etc on your resume is that these may make your resume more difficult for hiring managers or technical recruiters to read. Since IT recruiters and interviewers are often pressed for time, they won’t usually appreciate a graph that will require them to slow down and decipher it. Even if it’s simple, an element like this will still require more time to read than a simple, well-formatted resume. At best, you’ll simply irritate interviewers or technical recruiters. At worst, they may actually abandon your resume altogether in favor of one that is easier to look over (and thus establishes great candidacy faster).
So use a simple, clean format for your IT resume. Fancy charts won’t win you IT jobs.
If you’re working with IT recruiting companies to find your next IT job, your IT recruiters will likely give you some idea of questions to prepare for before interviews. Even with plenty of practice and research, most IT professionals do encounter some questions that are just uncomfortable to answer. For instance, IT recruiting agencies often find that candidates who have been fired don’t enjoy answering ‘Have you ever been fired before?’ Here’s how IT staffing firms would suggest you deal with it if you get asked a question that you don’t feel good about answering.
- Don’t be vague or try to hide anything. Your technical recruiters don’t want you to spill your guts about every gory detail of a firing, unpleasant situation, weakness, etc. However, they also want you to make your interviewer feel like you’re untrustworthy. Interviewers can usually tell when you want to hide something, and they don’t give your IT staffing companies good feedback when that happens.
- Try to stay calm. You can guide how your interviewer feels about your answers to a question by appearing comfortable yourself. If you are visibly nervous, ashamed, or upset by something, your interviewer is all the more likely to feel like it’s a bad thing. IT staffing agencies want you to remember that everyone has flaws. Seeing those flaws clearly and having a plan for how to work on them is what sets you apart.
Don’t assume your IT recruiting firms will always tell you that you lost IT jobs because you’ve had to divulge less than flattering info about yourself. Whatever the question, there’s usually a way to respond to it honestly, but without reflecting poorly on you. (For example, if you’ve been fired before, you can state that simply– and mention what you learned from it.) It’s even possible to turn uncomfortable questions into an opportunity to show something positive about yourself as an IT professional.
When you’re interviewing for IT jobs, there are plenty of clichés you may be temped to reach for. IT recruiters can understand this. Saying you’re a ‘team player’ or that you’ll ‘be the first one in and the last one out’ may actually be true. The problem is that these clichés have become pretty meaningless. IT staffing firms can guarantee it won’t help you at all in job interviews to reach for any of these common phrases. Here is one particularly harmful one that IT staffing companies would suggest you avoid: ‘I’m a quick learner!’
Why will your IT recruiting companies want you to avoid saying this in your interviews? As discussed above, the phrase has been rendered pretty meaningless. You may make yourself look a bit unprepared for the interview or even damage your candidacy by using such a meaningless phrase. Good candidates can speak about their assets in specifics and are often prepared with concrete examples of professional achievements.
If you’re tempted to say you’re a ‘quick learner’ or something along these lines, here’s what IT staffing agencies would suggest instead. Take a breath and reach for an anecdote about a time you actually did this. Was there a time you needed to learn a new programming language in a short time? Was there a time you needed to assimilate quickly to a team’s processes? By telling these stories, you’re demonstrating your value to your interviewer. Not only that, but you’re doing so in a way that helps them imagine you in the role you’re interviewing for. So at your next interview, remember that your IT recruiting agencies will be more likely to give you good news about your interview if you stay away from saying you’re a quick learner!
As you prep for job interviews, here’s one way to give yourself an advantage: practice speaking about a professional achievement in a brief, but comprehensive way. Here’s how IT staffing firms would recommend you do this.
- IT recruiting agencies would suggest you start by identifying some of your major professional achievements. These might be obvious, but they could be things that seem smaller, like putting in extra work to make sure a project was delivered on time for end users. Make a list for yourself.
- Go over the descriptions your IT recruiters gave you for the IT jobs you’ll be interviewing for. Try to pinpoint if any of the achievements on your list will be especially pertinent to these jobs.
- Once you’ve selected the best achievements, think about them in terms of three things. Figure out what exactly you did, what the impact was, and if there were any particular groups that benefited (like end users, clients, your team, etc).
- Now practice talking about each achievement in these terms. IT recruiting firms would suggest you practice speaking with a friend, family member, or in front of the mirror. Use a timer and try limiting yourself to 2-4 minutes at most. The reason IT staffing companies would suggest you limit your time here is that it will keep you from making a few mistakes. You won’t be able to get too technical (something that technical recruiters have certainly seen ruin interviews), nor will you be able to sound too arrogant or take the interview off track.
- When you find an opportune moment in an interview, don’t be afraid to pull this ace out of your pocket. You don’t want to sound rehearsed, but practicing and thinking about how to talk about your professional achievements ahead of time will make you much more succinct and effective!
As you interview for IT jobs, your top concern is likely whether you are prepared for and/or can succeed at the kind of programming, debugging, troubleshooting, etc that the role requires. While IT recruiters would definitely advise asking questions about the scope of the work the role will require, it’s also important to think about the corporate culture. Why would IT staffing companies suggest you make this a priority in your decision-making process? Because if you aren’t happy or don’t fit into the team and company culture, IT recruiting firms can almost guarantee it will be hard for you to really succeed in your role. IT staffing firms see plenty of talented IT professionals fail at jobs because they can’t get along well with their teams, bosses, or end users and clients. Here’s how to make sure you land a job where you’re not just a great fit for the work, but also the culture!
- Think about what kind of workplaces you’ve succeeded in previously. What made them comfortable for you? The pace of work? The communication styles of team members? Did you have standup meetings? Did you communicate directly with clients or end users? Take some notes for yourself.
- Talk to your technical recruiters. Ask them if the roles you’re interviewing for have these elements to their corporate culture. Make sure they’re clear on what will and won’t work for you. Good IT recruiting agencies don’t want to place you in jobs where you’ll have a hard time fitting into the culture.
- Research online. Check out Glassdoor reviews and see what the company says about its own corporate culture on its website or social media accounts.
- Come to the interview with questions. If you have specific questions about the corporate culture, you’ll make an even better impression on your interviewer. If you don’t have any specific questions, more general questions will still help you make a better decision. Try asking what people enjoy about working at the company. Ask what people don’t like about working at the company. Ask about what personal qualities make people successful (or not!) at the company.