If you’re working with IT recruiting companies to find your next role, you’re giving yourself many advantages. They’ll help prep you, advocate for you, and negotiate salary for you. Probably one of the advantages that’s least discussed is that IT recruiters can get you feedback when you don’t land IT jobs. As a candidate without an IT recruiter representing them, you can try to ask for feedback. However, it’s never guaranteed. Most employers actually prefer not to give feedback to rejected candidates for legal reasons. They don’t want to say something that could be misconstrued or that they may be sued for. Plenty of companies actually just have a blanket policy to never to give feedback to rejected candidates as a protective measure. There’s also just the issue of time. Most employers simply don’t have the time to give feedback to all rejected candidates. Add to these two common obstacles the fact that you don’t have much of a relationship with the employer anyways, and this makes your chances of receiving feedback pretty low. When you do have IT staffing companies representing you, they may be able to convince an employer to share some helpful feedback.
Why is getting negative feedback an advantage? If you can get constructive feedback, sometimes it can help you learn how to interview better. Or perhaps it can even help you make larger changes in your career. Some common examples of useful interview feedback are when employers tell technical recruiters a candidate didn’t land the job because they brought up politics in an interview, didn’t wear appropriate clothes, or were late. These are certainly reasons IT staffing firms find that candidates are rejected from jobs. They’re also very easy things to fix so candidates can make sure they do nail an interview in the future. Sometimes a candidate didn’t brush up enough on a technology before the interview or was unprepared to take a coding test. If their recruiter can share this, the candidate will know to study and prepare more next time.
So if you’re working with IT recruiting firms, don’t forget to ask for feedback when you’re rejected from an employer. Keep an open mind and really consider how you might use any feedback you receive. While nobody loves being told they did something wrong, that’s only a minor part of this process. You can choose to turn your feedback into an opportunity to become even more employable. You also have the benefit of your recruiter’s opinion. Good IT recruiters will be happy to take a few minutes to discuss this feedback with you and help you understand what you can do better in your next interview, how you can build a more marketable skillset, etc. Taking this time to learn lessons from interview feedback now means a better career in the future.
Interviewing technical candidates can be challenging. You want to find a way to assess their skills without making your interview a non-stop whiteboarding session or test. Here are two questions to ask candidates that IT recruiting companies suggest for technical interviews. These questions help managers explore a candidate’s technical skills, personality, and experience.
What environment did you come from previously? Technical recruiters find this question can help managers get a candidate talking about a few important things.
- Perhaps most importantly, a candidate can take this as an opportunity to talk about the technologies they’ve gotten to work with most recently. They can use this question to help you understand the range of their technical skills (and if they’re what you need in your next hire).
- Next, this question can lead to a discussion about the team they worked on. Was it large? Small? Who did they report to? Did they have anyone reporting to them? IT staffing firms find that this kind of information will help you understand how much of projects the candidate actually handled themselves, if they had to own these tasks or others checked their work and helped, if they can manage people effectively, etc.
- Lastly, the question can give you a good gauge of the kind of corporate culture the candidate is coming from. While technical acumen is important, the ability to fit into corporate culture is nearly as imperative. When candidates don’t mesh well with a corporate culture, IT recruiting agencies usually see that the candidate is unhappy and winds up leaving the role early or is let go.
What environment are you looking for in your next role? IT recruiting firms find that when you can get the candidate to articulate their next ideal environment, it will help you understand if they’re a good fit for your role in a more in-depth way.
- This question will build upon the first one to help you understand not only a candidate’s strengths, but what will make the candidate happier. And good IT staffing companies know that happier employees are always more successful in a role (and stay longer, or until the completion of a project).
- A candidate’s answer to this question will also let you know if their needs match what you and your company can provide. For instance, perhaps the candidate is not interested in IT jobs that report to a higher level like CIO– but your open job requires it. You’ll be able to tell the role won’t be a good match. Or perhaps the candidate tells you they want a more advanced tech stack in their next employer, and you can offer that. Now you can confidently sell the job harder to the candidate. Getting on the same page will help you make the right decision to hire, or not hire, a candidate.
Skype and Facetime interviews are becoming more and more common in the tech field. Considering how often Skype and Facetime interviews are used instead of (or in conjunction with) phone screens, it’s amazing that the technology has only existed for about 15 years. If you have a video chat interview coming up, here are some tips IT staffing firms would suggest. Even if you’ve used Skype or Facetime to do job interviews before, you may still find some new info below to help you nail your future interviews.
- Make sure your connection is good, right before your interview. Doing it the night before or even hours before won’t give you the same reassurance. Skype a friend or your IT recruiters for a few minutes before your scheduled interview to confirm everything is working perfectly. If you’re at home, consider asking everyone else to get off the Wi-Fi so there are no possible interruptions. IT staffing agencies have certainly seen employers nix a candidate because of a bad skype connection.
- Dress like you were going to a face-to-face interview. The tech field is noted for having plenty of workplaces that are very casual, but that doesn’t usually translate to the interview. Wear a suit (or whatever your technical recruiters suggested), shower, comb your hair, etc before you interview. It’s also very important to note here that you don’t want to assume that you can wear pajama pants or sweatpants because the camera won’t show them. IT recruiting agencies have heard plenty of horror stories about this before. Avoid becoming one of them yourself and dress completely appropriately. From head to toe.
- Take anything odd or distracting out of view of the camera. You may not think anything of it, but if you have some weird posters, desk toys, etc, it’s time to just clear them off and put them away. They could distract, or possibly offend the interviewer. There’s no reason to risk ruining your interview when you can just put them back after.
- Make sure your username is professional. If you need a new Skype account just for job interviews, you might want to consider it. Having a silly or rude name for Skype is just as bad as having an unprofessional email address. Make a simple, easy to remember username that is comprised of your name (and possibly your birthday, location, the year, etc if your name is very common).
One of the most popular questions candidates have before an interview is what questions they should be asking their interviewer. The main rule of thumb is to make sure that all of your questions are about things you’re genuinely interested in and will help you decide if the job is a good fit for you. Asking questions just to impress an interviewer or to try to show off an achievement, research, etc, will never look good. In fact, it could suggest that you just don’t understand professional norms or you have terrible communication skills. Both conclusions could certainly sink your chances of landing IT jobs. Here are 2 questions IT recruiting firms suggest you tweak according to your own needs and ask in your next interview.
1. What makes a successful employee at that this company? How do they succeed both within the corporate culture and in their work? These questions show that you’re interesting in setting high standards for yourself. It also shows that you understand success is greatly influenced by a company’s unique corporate culture. IT recruiters find that employers really appreciate it when a candidate shows some genuine curiosity about what they value in their workplace and how team members can significantly contribute.
2. What will be the goals in this role in the first month, the first quarter? Especially because of the fast-paced, deadline-oriented nature of tech work, IT staffing firms find that employers love to see candidates who are ready to hit the ground running. (This is even more important in contract roles!) Asking about upcoming, short term and longer term goals will help an employer see that you’re interested in coming in and making an impact ASAP.
There are plenty of ways to bomb a job interview. Not prepping enough, not brushing up enough on the relevant technologies, or arriving late. However, one of the most common ways technical recruiters have seen people bomb interviews this year is by discussing politics. In such a politically charged year, IT recruiters have seen a lot of candidates bomb interviews because they thought it was ok to talk about politics with their interviewers. Here’s why you need to avoid this at all costs—and how to gracefully sidestep it.
Why can’t you discuss politics in an interview for IT jobs? There are a few reasons. Firstly, you never know if you’ll be offending your interviewer. Political views can be very touchy and personal. The last thing you want to do is offend your interviewer. The point of the interview is to make a connection with them and help them see you as somebody who’d be an asset to their team.
The second reason IT recruiting firms suggest you don’t talk about politics in your job interview is because it suggests you don’t understand professional norms. Staying away from politics in the office is probably one of the most agreed-upon professional norms. When you break that in your interview, you let your interviewer assume that you probably aren’t professional in other ways, too.
The last reason IT staffing firms tell candidates not to talk about politics in job interviews is because you’re putting interviewers in an awkward spot. Learning about a candidate’s political views can be a slippery slope into areas an interviewer can’t legally ask you about. Most interviewers are working hard to make sure they only ask you questions about topics they’re legally allowed to discuss and evaluate you with as a candidate for their job. So when you bring up topics that might lead into these areas, you will make the interviewer very uncomfortable– if not make them reject you outright.
So now that you know why you can’t discuss politics in an interview, here’s one way to avoid it: come up with some other legitimate small talk topics you can reach for instead. Talk with your interviewer about the weather, sports, movies, etc. When you have a go-to list of small talk topics, you’re less likely to bring up topics that will hurt you, like politics!
Working with IT recruiters doesn’t guarantee you a job that will be a great fit. Sometimes bad technical recruiters will place you in a job with a work environment you hate or with a workload you can’t handle. Here’s how to make sure you work with IT staffing firms that will help you land a role you can succeed in and enjoy.
If an IT recruiter contacts you first, really look at their messages. Do you they speak English well and write in a professional manner? Are they offering a job that makes sense for your skill-set? If the messages are confusing or suggest a role that is obviously not a fit for you, you can probably reply ‘no thanks.’
If the message does interest you and seems worth considering, look up the recruiters who contact you and the IT recruiting companies they come from. If they have bad reviews, or worse yet, no online presence, you may want to skip working with them. Legitimate IT recruiting firms have their own website and decent reviews. They probably also have a LinkedIn page and at least some social media presence. In terms of reviews, you can take everything with a grain of salt. If they have only a couple of bad reviews mixed in with a lot of good ones, they’re probably worth talking to. If IT staffing agencies have a ton of bad reviews, that’s a bad sign. Don’t be a target for an IT recruiting scam or work with an IT staffing agency that doesn’t care what you need to succeed in a role.
If your technical recruiters seem legitimate, have an open, candid conversation with them about what you want. They should care about more than just your technical skills and experience. If you have scheduling needs, are looking to avoid a long commute, or need a particular kind of work environment to succeed, they should care about this. Good IT recruiters want to place you in a job that is as compatible with your life and work style as possible. This is because happy employees are productive, successful employees. You can’t do your best work if the corporate culture of a company is suffocating to you or you’re exhausted from a marathon commute!
One of the worst reasons to be rejected for IT jobs is because you showed up late to the interview. After all the prepping you did, all the studying and time spent editing your portfolio, you don’t want to blow an interview just because you didn’t leave early enough. Here are a few reasons why IT staffing companies find that people are late.
You didn’t leave enough time for security checks. IT recruiting companies do find that candidates will sometimes have to go through security checks before interviews. These may not take long, but if you’ve planned on arriving just in time (which you probably should not) then a surprise security check will make you late. To avoid this issue, try asking your IT recruiters before the interview if they anticipate any security checks. If they say yes, ask for an estimate of how much time you should build in for it. If your technical recruiters aren’t sure about this (which is unlikely) build in an extra 15 minutes for yourself. If you’re more than 10 minutes early when you arrive, you can go take a walk, grab coffee, or simply wait in your car.
You didn’t leave enough time for traffic. IT recruiting firms usually recommend that you leave enough time for yourself to get to your interview, even if there is severe traffic. You never know when there may be an accident or construction on your route. Even if you’re leaving outside of rush hours, there’s still a risk of something slowing down your trip and making you late to the interview. Give yourself a buffer of time that’s generous enough to handle the most severe traffic and still get you to the interview 5-10 minutes early. As mentioned before, if you arrive too early, no problem. Simply find a way to wait so that you’re out of your interviewer’s hair.
You replied on public transportation—and it took longer than you expected. As anybody who rides public transportation knows, there are a lot of factors that can make a trip take longer than you anticipated. Even if you go by the estimate on a public transportation website, you may still wind up late to an interview. Truthfully, most IT staffing companies suggest that you take a taxi, Uber, or get a ride to an interview. It will likely be much faster and more reliable for this kind of situation (where lateness is so problematic). If you do decide to use public transportation, give yourself a large buffer of time. Consider practicing the trip if you can, as well. If you can’t, make sure you’re familiar with the buses or trains you’ll be taking and buy your ticket in advance online if possible. Remember that if you need to take a few minutes to find the correct train, that could be the few minutes you’re late by!
If you’re looking for new IT jobs, your first step should be to update your resume for IT recruiters and employers. As an IT professional, your resume will be a bit different from resumes in other industries. Here are some key elements of IT resumes.
The technical skills section. This is one of the most important features of a resume for IT staffing companies. It helps them decide quickly if you have the skills to be a possible fit for an open job. Make sure to put this section right at the top of your resume and keep it thorough, organized, and updated. The best technical skills section is a snapshot of the technologies and skills you’ll be talking about in your employment history below. It’s important to make sure you only add skills to this section that you are 100% confident you actually have. Technical interviews will often quickly reveal it if you lack something you’ve mentioned in the technical skills section. If an interviewer finds you ‘fudged it’ and included something you can’t actually back up, you won’t get the job (and your technical recruiters probably won’t want to work with you anymore, either).
You have more leeway to go beyond 1 page. IT recruiting companies find that employers in the tech field are a bit more lenient with the length of resumes. While you don’t want to write a novel, if you have a great arsenal of technical skills and experience, it’s ok if you need a bit of extra room to elaborate. Technical resumes have some extra sections (like the one mentioned above).Another reason you can write a longer technical resume is that hiring managers do want to see details about the projects you’ve worked on. IT staffing agencies find that when you give better detail on the technical projects you’ve done, employers have an easier time picturing you performing the role they’re hiring for.
Contract work is more accepted and more common. Many IT professionals use contracting as a legitimate way to gain skills and exposure to new technologies. Since technology is always changing so quickly, it can become necessary to move faster from company to company to get exposure to new technologies at a more compatible rate. Contracting is also just a more common way for managers to hire in the tech field. IT recruiting firms find that sometimes employers only need contractors to finish a particular project. Perhaps a company can’t afford to hire somebody with a rare skill-set permanently. Just make sure to mark when a position is contract on your resume, so people know you didn’t leave early or were fired.
If you’re seeking a new role in an area of the tech field you don’t have much experience in, there are ways to make you a more appealing candidate to IT recruiters anyway. Whether you’re looking to land your first Helpdesk role, or you want to move from Desktop support to a Network Engineer role, here are 3 ways to beef up your application materials and impress technical recruiters.
1. Seek out opportunities within your current employer to get hands-on learning experience relevant to the IT jobs you want to work in. You might be able to do this in your current company in 2 ways. Firstly, your bosses may allow you to get some hands-on experience in a formal way (like a side project for a different department). This is probably the most preferable. If you do well, you can demonstrate that you met the expectations of a manager in this area. If your company can’t help you out with any formal learning opportunities, you might still be able to informally shadow the people who hold the roles you’d like to hold one day. While this isn’t something you can put on a resume, it will help you to better direct your own study of relevant skills and technologies.
2. Seek out opportunities outside your current employer to get relevant hands-on learning. You can volunteer, take freelance jobs, or perhaps create your own project on your own time. IT recruiting firms have an easier time placing somebody who can point to demonstrable experience, even if the candidate made that experience happen. Consider offering your services for free or reduced charge to local nonprofits, checking websites with volunteer opportunities, or reaching out to people within your network to seek out hands-on learning opportunities for the skills and technologies you’re interested. If you’re learning how to code, create your own website, etc. Having a portfolio of examples of your work will certainly make you more marketable to IT staffing companies.
3. Consider getting a certification if there are any relevant ones. Employers generally put a lot of trust in certifications, so these can be a great way to help IT recruiting agencies visualize you in the roles you want. IT recruiting companies always find that that candidates with certifications can get at least a bit of an edge over those who don’t have them. Certifications can also be a way to gain more hands-on experience with technologies or skills. (Some certifications actually require hands-on experience.)
If you’re a job seeker, you’ve probably been contacted by or come across fake recruiter scams before. Scammers will often find your information on job boards or LinkedIn. When you’re looking for IT jobs, you don’t have to be vulnerable to these scammers, though. Here are 3 tips for how to weed out fake IT staffing companies from the scammers.
1. Google them. Real IT staffing agencies always have a website and usually a social media presence. They often have online reviews, as well. It’s also often a red flag if the IT recruiters who contact you are using an email address that seems more like a personal one than business. (For instance, at AVID, our technical recruiters all have email addresses that end in avidtr.com, rather than gmail.com or Hotmail.com.)
2. Think twice if they ask you to pay for background checks, drug testing, or CORI’s. Most reputable IT recruiting firms will never ask you to pay for these. It’s a cost of doing business for the IT recruiting firm. Fake recruiters will often ask you to pay for these tests as a way to steal your money. There usually isn’t a real job or background check—just somebody making money off of your vulnerability as a job seeker.
3. Don’t trust a job offer that comes too easily. Especially in tech, it’s important to hire people with the right skills and experience. This means that you’ll rarely land a job without at least doing a phone interview and in-person interview. If IT recruiting agencies contact you with a job offer and no need to do any interviewing to be hired, that’s a huge red flag. An employer needs to do more than simply glance at your resume or LinkedIn profile to determine what your technical skills are like. Real IT jobs require real technical interviews. If IT staffing companies say you don’t need to do any, they’re probably scamming you.