Sometimes IT recruiters will find that candidates are completely prepared for interviews and phone screens but there is one obstacle that makes it hard for them to land IT jobs: they can’t figure out how to schedule them. IT staffing companies find that sometimes candidates think they think they can’t take time from their workday for a phone screen or take time off for the job interviews. For most people in the tech field, though, this simply isn’t true. Here’s why IT recruiting companies suggest that you rethink this if you have a hard time scheduling a phone or in-person interview during business hours.
1. Sometimes candidates think that since technical recruiters are available to talk before work or after-hours, this means that employers will be, too. The truth is that IT staffing agencies very often work around the clock to fill IT jobs. Employers, however, usually don’t. Most employers will fit a phone or in-person interview into the work day. (Some will stay late or meet with candidates before the workday, but they are often in the minority.) If you can’t step away to take a phone interview during business hours, or if you aren’t willing to take a day or part of a day off work for a job interview, you will miss all opportunities to interview. IT recruiting firms find that other candidates usually are willing to do take time for their job search. This means employers will interview and hire them instead of you.
2. On a similar note, it’s important to understand how it looks to employers when you refuse to interview during normal business hours. There are two very bad messages you might send to potential new employers when you try to insist they meet you outside of business hours. Firstly, IT recruiting agencies find that when you demand this kind of scheduling, you can wind up looking like you don’t understand professional norms and are unprofessional. As mentioned above, doing interviews or phone interviews during the work day is pretty normal. True professionals know how to gracefully and discreetly accommodate interview requests into their normal schedule. Secondly, if you insist that employers interview you outside of normal business hours, you’re also possibly suggesting you’re a difficult person to work with. No matter how technically adept you are, this will really hurt your candidacy. More and more, IT recruiters find that having great communication skills and being pleasant to work with are important in IT jobs. This is due to many factors, including the fact that tech departments now work with end users, clients, and other departments more than they used to. So be flexible about scheduling your interview—it just might help land you the job.
3. Lastly, taking time away from work for your job search is a normal, acceptable activity if done with discretion. Sometimes candidates think they’re doing something wrong or disloyal if they take time away from their job to do an interview. This simply isn’t true. You certainly don’t want to make it obvious to your current employer that you’re looking for a new job. However, most decent employers know that people do job search. If you are taking time off from your job it’s either sick/vacation time that you’ve earned. It’s your time. You are allowed to do what you want with it—including going to the interviews your IT staffing firms set up for you. It’s also worth noting that the technical recruiters you work with and the employers you interview with will also be discreet. They will not bring it to your current employers’ attention that you’re job searching. Unless you are indiscreet about it, going on interviews doesn’t carry much risk of alerting your employer that you’re considering leaving.
Sometimes when you’re working with IT recruiting companies to find new IT jobs, you’ll be asked to do a background check. Since candidates often have a lot of questions about these items, here are some common questions IT staffing agencies tend to get about background checks.
1. Why do I need to do these? Your IT recruiters are usually telling you they need to do background checks for a couple reasons. Firstly, because the field requires it or it’s required by law for this particular kind of job. Since tech is so involved in the security field, technical recruiters are working on more and more jobs now that require background checks. Fields like education and healthcare also tend to require certain background checks, whether you’re working directly with patients, students, etc or not. Secondly, some companies have been burned before by lawsuits or other issues. In order to protect themselves from future harm, they may require new hires to pass certain background checks. The last thing to consider here is that a background check is done at the (sometimes expensive) cost of the IT recruiting firms or employer. Thus it isn’t something taken lightly or just thrown into the process for no reason. It’s an absolute necessity that cannot be avoided. So when your IT recruiters tell you that you’ll need to pass a background check (or background checks) you can trust that this isn’t done out of anything other than necessity.
2. What kinds of background checks are done? There are a few kinds of background checks that IT staffing firms have to do. The most common are education or employment verification checks, drug testing, or criminal background checks. Credit checks are done pretty rarely and drug testing is also becoming a rarer necessity. Depending on the employer, you may be asked to do only one check or a combination of them.
3. Will I have to pay for these checks? You should never pay for these checks if you’re working with good, reputable IT staffing companies. If you’re working with IT recruiting firms that tell you to pay the cost, you may want to check to see if they are running a scam.
4. What can I do if I have a reason that I’m unsure I’ll pass a background check? IT recruiting firms sometimes work with candidates who have legitimate reasons why they think they won’t pass a check (but they’re still good fits for the job). Perhaps somebody made a mistake in the past or has a medication that will muddy a drug test. Be open with your IT recruiting agencies. Talk to them about your concerns and see what can be done. Often if you present something reasonable, your technical recruiters can lobby on your behalf. This is one of the advantages of working with IT recruiters to find a job—employers trust them and listen to what they say about a candidate.
When you’re searching for new IT jobs, the most powerful tool you have is your resume. Even the best IT recruiting firms can’t land you a job if your resume is terrible. Here’s one mistake that can really ruin a good resume: a poorly handled gap between jobs.
Having a gap between jobs isn’t the end of the world. IT staffing companies come across a fair share of candidates who might have a gap somewhere in their career. The problem occurs when you either don’t provide any explanation at all, you lie to cover it up, or you give too much detail. Here’s how to avoid these pitfalls when you write a resume.
1. Too Little Info: Technical recruiters find that some candidates really do just leave a gap on their resume completely unexplained. Especially if this gap is more than a few months, you’ll raise red flags with IT recruiters and potential employers. While it might seem like listing the gap and giving an explanation brings too much attention to it, it’s actually the opposite. Not listing the gap at all brings far more attention—negative attention. Simply list a gap that’s over a month in the same format as a job. Give a one-sentence explanation of what occurred. It’s perfectly fine to say you moved, took time to care for a sick family member, took time for maternity or paternity leave, etc. If you were unemployed, list relevant courses or volunteering you did during your gap.
2. Too much Info: On the opposite end of spectrum, IT staffing firms suggest that you don’t list extensive details about what you did during your gap. It will almost certainly look unprofessional if you can’t sum up this time in a sentence or two at most. Sometimes IT recruiting agencies see people marking out employment gaps for childcare or some other kind of caretaking as though it were a job. They might list coordinating doctors’ appointments, managing medications, etc as ‘job duties’. Don’t do this. This always comes across as tone deaf and makes employers and IT staffing agencies uncomfortable. Even though you may feel that what you did has created applicable experience to the roles you want, you’ll be violating professional norms.
3. Inaccurate Info: Never lie to cover a large employment gap. Sometimes IT recruiters find that candidates will make up a job, extend the dates of a job beyond when they were really there, or do other dishonest things. Even if your technical recruiters don’t find the lie here, employers may find it. Lying on your resume is the quickest way to lose a job. Even if you do land the job, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media are making the world a very small place. You don’t want somebody to find out through the digital grapevine that you lied on your resume. You may get fired for it!
More and more, IT recruiters are finding that piercings and tattoos are something candidates need to consider as they interview for new IT jobs. According to some studies the number of Americans with tattoos has reached around 14%, or around 45 million people. Tattoos are becoming more prevalent among younger generations, especially workers under 40. All of these numbers mean that IT staffing firms definitely work with– and will work with– IT professionals who will be interviewing with a tattoo or piercings. If you’re working with IT recruiting agencies to find your next IT role, here are some tips for how to deal with your tattoos or piercings.
1. Start by letting your technical recruiters know if you have visible tattoos or unconventional piercings that are visible. For instance, if you have a tattoo on your shoulder, it’s probably not an issue. If you have one on your hand, wrist, neck, etc, this is worth discussing with your IT staffing companies. They will be able to advise you if you need to cover up, take the piercing out for the day, or if the employer wouldn’t mind either way.
2. If the interview goes well, stop and consider what the long term requirements will be for the job. If you have a visible tattoo and your IT recruiting companies advise you that you’ll have to cover it every day if you get a job offer, don’t ignore the advice. There are some industries where, even after you land the job, the workplace is just more conservative. Finance, for instance, usually frowns upon dress that is anything but very conventional.
It’s also important to remember that some roles require you to hide tattoos or piercings more than others might. If you’re providing face-to-face service to end users, meeting with important clients, or meeting with high-level staff, it will be all the more important for you to be able and willing to hide a tattoo. If you are working at a young start-up where you are left to complete your work on your own schedule, hiding a piercing or tattoo is obviously less imperative.
3. Take the company’s attitude towards tattoos or piercings as a little more data about what their corporate culture is like. If they frown upon tattoos and you love them (and perhaps want more), this job may not be a fit for you. Again, consult with your IT staffing agencies on this. They may be able to tell you more about this. Good IT recruiters want to place you in a job you’ll like and be able to succeed in. So be honest with them about this topic.
IT recruiters notice that most candidates who are skilled at job interviews tend to have a few things in common. One thing IT staffing companies notice good interviewers do is highlight key qualities about themselves. Here’s one key quality IT recruiting companies suggest you highlight in a job interview: that you’re reliable and will stick around for your whole contract (or at least a few years if it’s a permanent role).
Why is it necessary for you to make this obvious to your interviewers? Wouldn’t they assume that you won’t leave before a contract ends or in a particularly short time? In the tech field, the truth is that this isn’t a given. IT recruiting agencies find that far too often, companies hire candidates who will leave a job early to pursue other opportunities, move, etc. While this is certainly a problem in other industries, IT staffing firms find this kind of behavior is especially hard on companies in the tech field. Often employers are trying to complete projects by certain deadlines. Unexpectedly losing a member of their team makes it hard to do this. There’s also often a fair amount of training that goes into getting IT professionals up to speed to work on a project. So when they leave before it’s done, this makes it even harder to replace them with somebody fast enough. Basically, IT recruiting firms find that employers trying to fill IT jobs are (usually justly) worried that the people they hire will not be reliable and stick around a decent amount of time— thus costing them time, money, and causing a great deal of stress.
Taking this employer perspective into consideration as you interview can really make you stand out as a candidate. When you go into job interviews, take some time to demonstrate that you are ready to stick around until your contract is done, or at least a few years if the job is permanent. Take a minute to show how you’ve been reliable for past employers to really drive this point home. Showing your interviewer that you are capable of being reliable and sticking around will go far in building your candidacy. Even if they don’t ask about this topic, technical recruiters would highly suggest you make sure to drive this point home for your interviewer. It will make you stand out as an excellent candidate.
When you’re working with IT recruiting agencies to fill your open IT jobs, there are two major components to consider: evaluating candidates to make sure they’re the best fit for the job and making sure you sell your team and corporate culture to the best candidates. Of course, IT recruiting firms will help you achieve both of these components, but there are some things that your company must do—IT staffing agencies can’t do these things for you. Here are 2 things your company will need to do help attract the best candidates.
1. Pay attention to your online reputation. 5-10 years ago, companies didn’t have to worry about sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Google. Today, these sites are often the first place job seekers go for research after technical recruiters call them about a job. It’s important to check and even manage your presence on these sites. Getting bad reviews can happen to any company, no matter how good they are to employees. Disgruntled employees or trolls can leave a surprise scathing review on your listing on major sites. It’s important to try to respond to these reviews if you have grounds to. Depending on the content, you may also want to seriously consider the reviewer’s feedback if it seems useful.
2. Communicate with your IT staffing companies about your online reputation. It will also help you attract better candidates if you let the IT staffing firms you’re working with know ahead of time about bad reviews. Especially if there’s a good response to these reviews, your IT recruiting companies can pass this information on to candidates if they ask about it. (Candidates will often bring up concerns about a potential employer with the IT recruiters they work with in a more candid way than they would with an interviewer.) If you have great reviews online, make sure you point these out to the recruiters you’re working with. These are a strong tool for IT recruiters to use in selling your open jobs to great candidates.
IT recruiters find that even when employers are experienced at interviewing to fill IT jobs, they may still wind up mistakenly asking illegal questions. In fact, a recent study shows that 1 in 5 employers asks illegal questions when they’re interviewing. While asking these questions doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get sued, IT staffing agencies would strongly suggest you take time to make sure your interviewers are fully versed on what they can and can’t legally ask. It may save you a great deal of trouble (and money) in the future. Here are some basic guidelines IT recruiting firms would suggest you follow in formulating your questions.
1. Don’t ask about their family structure. Asking whether a candidate is married, has children, expecting, etc may lead you into muddy waters. Often interviewers aren’t asking these kinds of questions with bad intentions. However, IT recruiters would suggest you choose other topics for friendly chit chat instead.
2. Don’t ask about their religion, gender, or sexual orientation. These are some of the most important areas IT staffing firms would suggest you avoid. Even if you’re just trying to make a connection with the candidate, these areas are the most dangerous in terms of potential lawsuits.
3. Don’t ask if English is a candidate’s first language or if they’re a US citizen. The IT recruiting agencies your company works with will be able to let you know if a candidate needs sponsorship or is authorized to work in the US. Let your IT staffing companies protect you here—let them look into this information for you.
IT recruiters find that one of the biggest misconceptions employers have about hiring IT professionals is timing. The amount of time employers take to hire in most industries is simply too slow when it comes to hiring for open IT jobs. Sometimes by the time a company is ready to have the IT staffing firms they’re working with make an offer to a candidate or ask for an interview, the candidate has moved on to other opportunities. Here’s why hiring a little faster with your IT recruiting agencies will help you find the best candidates to round out your team!
1. The tech field is really a job seeker’s market. The truth is, the unemployment rate for IT professionals is incredibly low. In fact, IT staffing companies often wind up working with passive candidates who are already in jobs. This means that candidates are often pursuing more opportunities and getting offers faster. They come on the market for new jobs (or in some cases don’t because they’re passive candidates) and leave rapidly. With this kind of market, it’s imperative to speed up your hiring process to keep up with the pace of the candidates you want to hire!
2. Candidates expect quicker feedback in the tech field. Technical recruiters find that many IT professionals are used to companies quickly deciding whether to interview candidates or move them on in the hiring process. When companies move at a pace that might be normal for other fields, candidates will read this (perceived) slowness as disinterest. Even when IT recruiting firms suggest a candidate be patient, this doesn’t always work. If you like a candidate and want to interview them or move them on to the next step in your hiring process, IT recruiting companies suggest you wear your heart on your sleeve. Let the candidates know– and do it quickly. If you don’t, you may lose out!
3. The quicker you hire, the sooner your team can start achieving more! Especially in tech, deadlines for projects and deliverables can be all the more intense. When you speed up your hiring process, you can get more manpower on a project sooner– and thus get results for your company sooner.
IT recruiting agencies have heard some interviewing horror stories from IT professionals and interviewers alike. Sometimes even when candidates have prepped and studied the technologies their IT recruiters recommended, things can still happen that make it hard (or impossible) to land the job. The worst stories technical recruiters hear are about the times candidates blow interviews for IT jobs by saying something controversial or talk about compensation in a counterproductive way.
How can you avoid making either of these mistakes? IT staffing agencies would suggest you start by making sure you don’t talk about politics, religion, or make any remarks that could be construed as intolerant of a particular group. You never know how your interviewer feels about any of these topics– and thus whether you may be offending them. Even if you don’t personally offend the interviewer, you may still lose your chance at landing the job. The interviewer might still tell your IT recruiting firms that they find you deeply unprofessional (and thus unemployable). Don’t take any risks in what you say—it’s simply not worth it.
When it comes to money, hold off on discussing it in the interview. The truth is, this part is really your IT staffing companies’ responsibility. Since interviewers often don’t want to discuss compensation, benefits, etc until they extend an offer, you’ll be breaking professional norms if you broach the topic during the interview. IT recruiting companies also find that since candidates take their compensation so personally (as they should), they have a hard time discussing the topic in a productive, professional way. Letting your IT staffing firms handle the negotiation for your compensation package is the best way to ensure that you don’t risk putting off your interviewer.
Technical recruiters find that IT professionals are often stumped by one question in a job interview: how would you improve our company, product, website, etc? If this question stumps you, here are some interview tips IT staffing firms would suggest trying.
1. Practice answering this question. It might be obvious, but IT recruiting agencies would suggest that if a question truly intimidates you, practice. Practice responding with a family member, friend, or in front of the mirror. You’ll feel better prepared to answer it and may not even feel nervous if your interviewer asks it!
2. To answer the question, most IT staffing companies would suggest that you start with a compliment—the more specific, the better. Starting your answer on a positive note helps here. If you can make the compliment show off your own knowledge, all the better. Maybe the website has features you particularly admire since you’ve tried to create similar ones in previous roles. Perhaps the product is user-friendly in a way that competitors’ aren’t. Remember to keep this compliment efficient and on the shorter side so you have time to actually give your idea for improvement.
3. Now give the criticism or idea for improvement in the most positive way possible. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice confidence—IT staffing agencies often find that you’ll make a better impression on an interviewer if you give all your answers with confidence. The way to keep a positive spin on it is to focus on the advantage of the change you’re suggesting rather than the cons of the way the company/website/product/etc currently exists. Obviously IT recruiting companies would suggest you really need to avoid making negative comments about the company/website/whatever in its current state.
4. Finish your answer by actively bringing the interviewer into the conversation. Ask if your ideas have been considered, if the company has done something similar previously, or just try to get their feedback. Again, this isn’t about breaking confidence. You simply want to show your interviewer that you’re a collaborative person who’s capable of taking in criticism, new ideas, etc. IT recruiting firms often find that the best candidate is usually the one that has a great technical background, but is also easy to work with and has good communication skills.