How to Talk about Long Employment Gaps in IT Job Interviews

Sometimes when you’re interviewing for IT jobs, you may be asked about how long you’ve been unemployed or job searching.  If you have been searching or unemployed for a long time, you need to be delicate in how you respond.  This is especially true in IT, where IT recruiters and IT staffing firms usually find that people have particularly short periods of unemployment.  Here are a few tips that will help you represent yourself and your IT recruiting companies well.

Firstly, keep any negative emotions out of your answer.  If you’ve been working with technical recruiters and IT staffing companies for a while to find an IT job, you might feel disappointed or discouraged.  Make sure this doesn’t come through when you respond to the hiring manager or interviewers.  Keep a positive, upbeat tone and project confidence that you and your IT recruiting firms will find something that you’re a great fit for.  People want to hire IT professionals who are emotionally stable, happy people who are confident in themselves and their abilities.  Don’t do anything to ruin that image of yourself.

Secondly, keep the language positive and stress that you are in control of your job search.  One way to do this is to suggest that you’re being very judicious in your search and don’t want your IT staffing agencies to place you in a job that’s a bad fit.  Another is to let your interviewer know if you’ve purposely taken time off from your search.  People do take time off from work or a job search for some legitimate reasons.  Some of these are: caring for a family member, travelling, dealing with health issues, moving to a new part of the country, or just to take a break—though this is the least desirable response.

Lastly, practice talking about this before your interviews.  You might get feedback from your IT recruiting agencies or just practice with a family member or friend.  Whatever the case may be, it will help you feel prepared and calm if you’ve practiced talking about this before the IT job interview.

Travel IT job search
Sometimes IT professionals take longer periods of time off between IT jobs to travel. Photo credit: Kate Ter Haar via Flickr.

More Bad IT Resume Advice to Avoid

To continue the recent theme of bad resume advice, here’s one more mistake that IT recruiters and IT staffing firms don’t want to see on your resume.  Do not list your children on your IT resume.  You will absolutely turn off technical recruiters and IT staffing companies if you list info about your children or if you list raising your children as achievements or experience.

Does this really happen?  Unfortunately, yes.   IT recruiting agencies do sometimes receive resumes with these listings.  Sometimes this is only because of cultural differences.  Some countries outside the US do require listing family members, marital status, etc on resumes.  Especially if you’d like to convince IT staffing agencies that you’re ready to perform well and fit into a US workplace, you’ll want to remove this information from your resume.

If you are not from another country, you’re likely just following some bad advice if you include this info on your IT resume.  Some IT recruiting firms have come across people who are trying to explain a resume gap by listing time to raise children.  A brief mention of this is fine.  However, listing child-rearing and domestic duties as experience will turn off hiring managers and IT recruiting companies.  These activities are certainly honorable in their own right, but they aren’t relevant to a resume.  This is because these skills aren’t entirely applicable to the professional world, but more importantly, they can’t be measured or evaluated by a manager.  There is nobody to vouch for your quality of work in these areas.  The end result is that listing domestic and child-rearing duties makes you look out of touch with professional norms.  Don’t risk it—leave details about your family off your resume!

Raising a family certainly takes skills, but you don’t want to add it to your IT resume! Photo credit: Philippe Put via Flickr.


How to Make Your IT Resume Just Technical Enough

As you polish your resume for your IT recruiters and IT staffing agencies, you might be wondering how technical to make it.  Technical recruiters and IT recruiting firms do sometimes come across resumes that are simply too technical to effectively represent a candidate.  IT staffing firms also come across resumes that don’t give enough technical details to sell their candidacy.  How do you walk the line between these two extremes?

Start by thinking about the IT jobs you’d like to be considered for.  Would they involve a lot of conversations with end users or clients?  Would you need to be able to speak to both tech savvy people and people who aren’t tech savvy?  If this is the case, IT recruiting companies will want to see a resume that isn’t so technical it’s unreadable for anybody without computer science degree.

On the contrary, if you’re aiming for positions that are highly technical and don’t require much interaction with end users, don’t skimp on details. For positions like this, it’s easier for IT staffing companies to advocate for your candidacy when you give more information about your technical proficiencies and professional achievements (especially ones that are relevant to the IT jobs you want to be considered for).  Successful IT professionals tailor their IT resumes to the jobs they want, right down to the level of technical detail they provide.

IT jobs IT resumes
Will your target IT jobs involve communication with end-users? Edit your IT resume accordingly! Photo credit:


Are You Using This Bad IT Resume Advice?

IT recruiters and IT staffing firms want IT professionals to give the best version of their resumes possible.  This might seem pretty straightforward and easy to do, but technical recruiters and IT recruiting firms come across some resumes that have clearly been built with terrible advice.  Some resumes are so long they could be novels.  Some resumes are so poorly organized or full of heavily technical terms that they’re nearly unreadable—to IT recruiting agencies, hiring managers, or anybody else!   Here’s one easy mistake you can avoid (or fix) to maximize the power of your IT resume: don’t add a description of each company you’ve worked at.

Unfortunately, many IT staffing agencies come across resumes with this mistake.  While it’s not the worst resume mistake you could be making, it’s still not helping you impress hiring managers or IT recruiting companies.  When you list a company and its general location (like the city and state), then it’s easy enough for IT staffing companies or interviewers to look it up if they are curious.  You don’t need to give a summary of what the company does.  Instead, use this space to list more of your professional achievements.  This is info that you really want your IT recruiting firms and potential employers to see— and this is info that’s not available online.  So use the space on your resume wisely!  Delete those company descriptions and replace them with more info to strengthen your candidacy for IT jobs.

IT resume Typing
Take out those company descriptions. They’re not impressing your IT recruiters or potential employers. Photo credit:


Things Your IT Recruiters Don’t Want on Your Resume

IT recruiters and IT staffing agencies will often get resumes with extra information.  Maybe the IT professional has given more detail about a job than the IT recruiting firms and IT staffing companies need.  Sometimes IT staffing firms get resumes that give way more professional experience than is necessary (or helpful!).  These kinds of mistakes don’t usually turn off IT recruiters because they’re actually sort of common.  What does tend to be a far more egregious mistake on resumes is including too many personal details.

What does this mean?  Often, perhaps because of cultural differences, IT professionals will include things that don’t pertain to their IT jobs or careers at all.  For instance, info like your birthday, parents’ names, or your IQ should all be taken off your resume ASAP.  Leaving this info on your resume suggests a few things.  Firstly, it suggests to IT recruiting companies that you just don’t know much about professional norms.  In IT, having the ability to fit well into a company’s corporate culture is pretty important.  If your resume doesn’t conform to corporate professional norms, IT recruiting firms may think you might not be able to.  Secondly, leaving this information on your resume takes up valuable space you should be filling with your professional achievements, skills, and experience.  Don’t waste an IT recruiter’s time with information that they don’t want anyways.  Keep your resume focused on your career—past, present and future!


IT resumes
IT recruiters don’t want to see personal info, like your birthday, on your IT resume. Photo credit: Flickr image from Helga Weber’s Photostream.

Another IT Resume Mistake to Avoid

When you’re searching for IT jobs and polishing your resume for IT recruiters and IT staffing companies, there are a lot of ways you can do display you experience and skills.  Many IT professionals will send technical recruiters and IT recruiting firms resumes with sections just to detail their technical proficiencies.  Some IT staffing firms and IT staffing agencies will get resumes with a summary section at the top of the resume.

These are all great things, but sometimes they can create a problem when an IT professional doesn’t start listing their experience until after the first page.  IT recruiting companies want you to be thorough in creating your resume, but your resume will definitely turn off hiring managers and interviewers if you take a page or more to start listing experience.  Hiring managers and IT recruiting agencies only have so much time—if you don’t catch their attention with some strong, relevant experience quickly, you’ll probably lose it.

IT resumes
Your resume shouldn’t be a novel– get them interested from the first word! Photo credit: Simon Cocks via Flickr.

How Far Back Should Your IT Resume Go?

Many IT professionals who aren’t entry level have a hard time deciding how long of a resume to submit to their IT recruiters and IT staffing agencies. While most technical recruiters and IT staffing companies don’t suggest that IT professionals with experience need to submit 1 page resumes, there is a good rule of thumb to follow.

If you’re entry level and creating a resume for your IT recruiting companies and IT staffing firms, you should try to keep your resume to 1 page.  You can do this by omitting any jobs that aren’t IT jobs or aren’t relevant to your IT career. If you do have significant experience as an IT professional, then your IT recruiting firms will want to see about 10-15 years of your most recent experience. How much exactly?  That depends on how long you’ve been working.  For example, If you’ve been working for 15 years, you may want to include only  about 10 years of experience.

In IT, youth is an asset (fortunately or unfortunately) and technologies change quickly.  You might actually  do yourself a disservice to leave more than this amount of experience on your resume.  Your best IT resume will make it seem like you understand or specialize in current technologies and that you have experience (but aren’t at the end of your career or command an astronomical salary).

IT resumes
Don’t list more than 10-15 years of experience on your IT resume! Photo credit: Dafne Cholet via Flickr.

Are You Using This Bad IT Job Interview Advice?

Recently, technical recruiters and IT staffing agencies have come across candidates who are acting on some terrible job interview advice.  Some IT professionals have heard that it will really impress their interviewer if they ask them if they have any concerns about them as a potential hire.  IT recruiters and IT staffing firms would strongly urge that you never, ever ask this question when on interviews for IT jobs.  Here are 2 reasons why this is a terrible question to ask.

Firstly, asking this question might suggest that you aren’t confident in your own candidacy.  Your IT recruiting agencies and IT staffing companies are advocating hard for you.  You need to supplement this effort by coming across as confident in your abilities and experience.  When you’re in IT, confidence is especially key.  Nobody wants to hire somebody who does a sub-par job working on important internal systems, websites, or provides poor tech support.  Giving the impression of low confidence will make it easy for your interviewer to question your competence as an IT professional.

Secondly, asking this question may actually highlight any weaknesses your interviewer hadn’t really noticed before.  Again, your IT recruiting firms are working hard to highlight why you’ll be a great candidate for the IT job.  You should do the same for yourself.  Don’t bring any extra attention to your potential (or perceived) flaws.

IT job interviews advice
Don’t ask your interviewer if they see any reasons not to hire you.


How to Talk About Weaknesses in IT Job Interviews

Lots of IT recruiters and IT staffing agencies come across IT professionals who aren’t sure how to answer this tough interview question: What is/are your weakness(es)?  Worse, some technical recruiters and IT recruiting agencies work with candidates who think they know how to answer this question, but do it poorly.  Here’s how to talk about weaknesses so you impress your interviewer and get some positive feedback for your IT staffing firms and IT recruiting companies.

  1. Don’t give a fake weakness. Give one that is real.  If you say something like ‘perfectionism’ it will make it harder for the interviewer to feel like you’re being honest and genuine with them.
  2. Give a weakness that isn’t prohibitive to doing the IT jobs you’re interviewing for. If you’re interviewing for a Software Developer job, you wouldn’t want to say you’re not very attentive to detail.
  3. Lastly, make sure your weakness is something you can actually improve upon. It’s best if you can give a brief summary of how you are currently working on this weakness, too.  This will ensure that your IT staffing companies and IT recruiting firms get some great feedback after your interview!
IT job interviews weakness
Don’t give fake weaknesses, like ‘perfectionism.’ They guarantee that your IT recruiters will get bad feedback after your interview.