Most IT professionals don’t enjoy writing or updating resumes. Besides the fact that writing resumes is an inherently unpleasant activity, technical resumes can be even more difficult. IT recruiters find that many candidates struggle with the balance between providing enough detail for technically-savvy readers and so much detail that managers and technical recruiters feel like they’re looking an unreadable novel of technical jargon. But in the end, creating a great resume is always worth it because it lands you great IT jobs. Here’s a checklist that IT staffing companies suggest you use before posting your resume.
1. Do you have a ‘Technical Proficiencies’ section at the top of your resume? Pull out all of your technical skills and put them in one well-organized section at the very top of your resume. This section is one of the best ways to catch the eyes of hiring managers and IT recruiting firms who are sifting through hundreds or thousands of resumes. Don’t forget to constantly update this section, too. As you learn a new programming language, master Scrum, or get new certifications, add them in. (IT recruiters would suggest that you only list technologies you have professional experience or certification in here. Listing hobbies won’t help you here. You don’t want to suggest you have a skill that you actually don’t. You’ll either be found out in an interview, or worse, on the job!) You could be missing out on IT jobs if you don’t!
2. Are your bullets effective? Do the bullets under each job just list the basic responsibilities of your roles? Time to fix that. Entice IT staffing agencies with bullets that list your achievements in these roles. Help them see the value you added to your team. You might have some technical details in here, but the point isn’t to be as thorough as possible. Focus on adding bullets that help an employer picture you, making a difference at their company from day one!
3. Did you list more than 15 years of experience on your resume? Time to cut back. There are a few reasons IT recruiting companies would suggest you do this. Firstly, you want to protect yourself from age discrimination. Unfortunately, most IT recruiters would agree that the tech field can be especially unforgiving when it comes to age discrimination. Since you don’t have to give more than 10-15 years of experience on your resume, just protect yourself and stop there. Another reason that technical recruiters would suggest you delete experience after the 10-15 year mark is because the resume isn’t really helpful after that point anyways. You want to highlight the kinds of technologies and projects that employers are working on now. Since the field is changing so quickly, the experience after 10-15 years may not even be relevant! The last reason to delete experience after 10-15 years is for length. IT professionals can have longer resumes, but you don’t want to post a resume that’s as long as War and Peace. Nobody really wants to read it and it might even turn off hiring managers. So take the old experience off your resume, it’s not helping and it may even actually hurt you!
Sometimes IT recruiters find that candidates may apply more than once to a company. They might do this because they forget they’ve already applied, because they want to show they’re very interested in the role, or maybe they just really want to work at that company. Whichever the case, technical recruiters find this doesn’t usually help candidates. In fact, it will probably ruin their chances of landing IT jobs. Here’s why IT staffing firms recommend that you don’t apply to a company or job twice.
Don’t apply twice because you like multiple roles. IT staffing agencies find that if you apply to multiple roles, especially ones that are different, you run the risk of looking disorganized and/or that you aren’t particularly passionate about any kind of work. Firstly, if you apply twice to the same role in a short period of time, you’ll look disorganized or perhaps not detail-oriented. Since both qualities are usually necessary for IT roles, that’s not going to help your candidacy!
Secondly, especially in the tech field, employers like to see candidates with a passion for a specific kind of work. When you apply to various kinds of roles, it can seem like you don’t have a clear idea of the kind of work you want to do in your next role. Submit just one application. Better yet, reach out to your IT recruiting companies to submit resumes on your behalf. They may have connections at the company and will make sure your resume gets seen (rather than dropped into the abyss of all other applications).
Don’t apply a second time to a company when your IT staffing companies have submitted you. Or, warn your technical recruiters that you’ve already applied to a job when they want to submit you to it as well. Most companies will just cancel out an application if they get it from both the candidate and from IT recruiting firms. Keep a running list of the jobs you apply to yourself and the jobs your IT recruiters submit you to. If your recruiters mention a job you’ve already applied to, make sure they know that. They may be able to strengthen your candidacy by putting a in a good word for you with managers they know. But IT recruiters can’t do this unless you talk to them about it first!
By now, most employers are at least aware that they have a presence on Glassdoor, Indeed, Vault, and other employer review sites. Many actually take the time to cultivate their spots on these sites, too. These companies find that it’s absolutely worth it to take time to add pictures, text about the company and its corporate culture, or even encouraging employees to leave reviews. When your presence on these sites is good, your company can draw more and better applicants. Especially when you’re searching for tech professionals to fill your open IT jobs, this becomes all the more imperative. Since it’s such a job seeker’s market for tech professionals, IT recruiters find it’s all the more important for employers to make sure their presence on career websites is stellar. Here are some tips from IT staffing companies to help employers make sure their online brand will attract great talent.
1. Post pictures on sites that let you. Having pictures of fun company outings will make a difference when candidates look up your profile. People will find your company profile more interesting and memorable. They may also connect better with smiling faces than just a boilerplate text about your company’s mission, culture, etc. Since IT recruiting firms find that candidates are often getting hit with multiple potential opportunities at once, you’ll want your company to stand out.
2. Get some reviews on your page. You can’t bribe or pressure employees to leave great reviews on your page. You can encourage your employees to leave reviews though if you think they’re happy. Happy employees usually won’t mind spreading the word if they do enjoy their workplace. (They’d want peers to do the same thing!) IT staffing firms find that getting lots of great reviews is the best way to counteract bad ones. You can ‘bury’ negative reviews so that when IT professionals are checking out your company, they see more good than bad. Remember, the tech talent you’re seeking have plenty of options. If a company looks like they don’t treat employees well, IT professionals will just tell recruiters to submit them elsewhere.
3. Don’t forget to respond to negative reviews. When IT professionals are on your site, it’s ok if they do see negative reviews. What really matters is if you show you care. Even the best employers have unhappy employees. What makes them the best is that they take negative feedback and grow from it. (Terrible employers are the ones who know their employees are unhappy and don’t seem to care!) So write responses that show you’re listening. Thank the reviewer for their feedback. Mention any actions you might be able to take to fix the issue in the future. Keep the tone calm, cordial, and concerned.
4. Don’t forget to keep your IT recruiting agencies in the loop. They should know the good and the bad. Give them links to your Glassdoor, Indeed and Vault pages. If you’re working to fix things that have inspired bad reviews, talk to them about it. Your IT staffing agencies can help sell you as an employer in addition to your presence on these sites.
There are very few people who have never have a bad boss, a job that’s a terrible fit, or a job that generally makes them unhappy. Having tough moments in your career is actually helpful—it shows you what you want and don’t want in future jobs, bosses, employers, etc. With the advent of Glassdoor and other employer review sites, though, IT staffing firms are noticing people who handle these moments in ways that aren’t healthy or positive for their careers: by leaving scathing employer reviews.
Glassdoor, Indeed, Careerbliss, and other career sites were meant for honest reviews of employers. However, leaving a negative, slanderous review isn’t really in this spirit. IT recruiters find that it can actually hurt your career a bit, too. The first problem is that these sites aren’t as anonymous as they seem. It’s easier for people to figure out who left a review than you think, especially at a small company. That means you might easily be identified to former coworkers as the person who left a nasty or unprofessional review online.
The next problem is that the tech world isn’t small, but it can be very interconnected. Because there’s such a dearth of qualified IT professionals, technical recruiters see the same people moving around the industry. In other words, that boss you worked for on a contract 5 years ago might be hiring for a role your IT recruiting firms submit you to now. If you leave a terrible review that people can link you to, you might be interviewing with them for a role later. This could very quickly disqualify you from the IT jobs you want.
Another thing to consider is the popularity of ‘back door references.’ Because of LinkedIn and other social networking sites like Github, IT staffing companies find that many people in the tech field are more connected than ever. That means if you burned a bridge with one employer, you might be getting a reference from them that you didn’t ask for—one that ruins your chances of landing a job with a future employer.
The last reason to hold back on leaving scathing reviews on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, etc is that you never know if you might be sued. Though the chances of this are pretty low, some companies have gone after people who left reviews that seriously hurt their business. Even if these companies don’t win, the process of being sued can be costly and stressful.
For all of these reasons, IT recruiting agencies suggest taking time to cool down before leaving a negative review of an employer. It’s ok to leave honest reviews. You just want to focus on leaving constructive criticism and providing perspectives that are helpful to other job seekers. Leave out names, extreme comments, or outright lies. Post a review that is constructive, honest, and won’t hurt your future career!
If you’re part of the class of 2017, you may be planning to push that job search off until later in the summer. The tech field is a job seeker’s market, right? Why not kick back and take a little break before entering the workforce? Don’t be tempted to do this. Unfortunately, the tech field is a bit less of a job seeker’s market for entry-level grads. IT staffing companies find that there are absolutely less open IT jobs out there for recent grads. You also don’t want to limit your options. If you wait until later in the summer or fall, IT recruiters will have filled plenty of the jobs with coveted employers. Starting your job search doesn’t have to be so arduous, though. Here are 4 simple things you can do to start searching for IT jobs now.
1. Make your resume visible to employers and technical recruiters. Post your resume on Monster, Dice, LinkedIn, etc. Make a public, professional LinkedIn profile. Don’t just rely on your school’s internal job portals. If you’re a programming student, get on Github or similar sites. IT staffing agencies will be looking for great candidates there, too.
2. While you’re at it, reach out to IT staffing firms. Find some trusted IT recruiting companies in your area and reach out to and pass along your resume. Even if you’re working on your final exams, they can begin your job search for you now!
3. Do your research on the kinds of roles you prefer your salary expectations. Make sure to take your location into consideration here. IT recruiting firms find that sometimes new grads will price themselves out of great jobs because they don’t have realistic salary expectations. Your IT recruiters can help you out a bit, but it’s also important for you to do your own research prior to conversations with them.
4. Get a real email address and clean up your social media. You don’t want to keep your school email address anymore—you’re going to be a professional soon! Get an email address that you won’t be embarrassed to share with potential employers and IT recruiting firms. Make sure you clean out all pictures, quotes, comments etc on your social media that you wouldn’t want a future boss to see. IT recruiting agencies definitely see candidates with terrible social media profiles miss out on roles.
If you’re looking for new IT jobs, brand name, “cool” employers can seem like the only way to go. There are certainly benefits to working for a company everybody recognizes, or one that’s cited as a hip place to work. However, you’ll do yourself a disservice if you don’t also seriously consider employers that might be less well-known. Here are 3 reasons why it can be just as rewarding, fulfilling, and even fun for IT professionals to work for an employer that’s not necessarily “cool,” or “hip.”
The technologies. IT recruiters find that when candidates can list what technologies they’d like to gain experience with, it doesn’t mean they need to limit their search to the most publicized companies in the tech sector. Many smaller, lesser-known companies use equally (or sometimes more advanced) technologies. Be open with your IT staffing firms about your career goals. If you want to work with certain technology stacks, your technical recruiters will know which employers in your area use them. You want to land in a job that challenges you, moves your career forward, and is interesting. It’s entirely possible to find that at a company that’s not very ‘cool’ at all!
The perks. The awesome perks you read about well-known, ‘hip’ employers are just as likely to be at companies you’ve never heard of. Especially in the tech space, IT recruiting agencies find that employers are working hard to attract and keep talent in a job seeker’s market. Plenty of them have adopted the same kind of awesome perks to do this. Stocked kitchens full of free snacks and coffee? Game rooms? Relaxed dress codes? Company outings? You don’t need to go to a name brand company to find that. You might find those perks in company that seem to do “boring” work.
Work-life balance. IT staffing companies caution candidates that many name brand employers everyone wants to work for require a rigorous work schedule. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, for some people, work-life balance is paramount. Perhaps they have young families to take care of, older parents to help out, or some out of work interests (like adventure racing) that require a lot of time or travel. Whatever the case, if you’re interested in a job that offers great work-life balance, your IT recruiting firms may suggest an employer you’ve never heard of!
Every IT professional has triumphant moments at work. Maybe you solved a difficult ticket for the VP. Maybe you suggested some powerful changes to your company’s technical environment. It’s great to take a minute to bask in your achievement, but there’s something else you should be doing: documenting it for later. Taking 5 minutes to document your achievement, in a word doc, by hand, or by simply saving relevant emails to a folder, will do a lot for you in the future. Here’s why IT recruiters suggest you document your triumphs at work.
1. You can use this document to easily update your resume. The resumes IT staffing firms find most marketable don’t list responsibilities below IT jobs. They list achievements and contributions. Electronically documenting your big wins at a job can especially streamline the process of updating your resume. All you’ll have to do is copy and paste. There are many reasons why tech professionals suddenly find themselves needing a current, polished resume. Maybe they’ve been laid off or fired. Or perhaps, especially in the tech field, they’ve been contacted by IT recruiting firms about a passive opportunity that’s too good to ignore. Documenting your achievements at work makes the scramble to unexpectedly update your resume less stressful.
2. You can use this list of achievements at your next review or in your next request for a raise. Even if it seemed like a huge deal when you found that bug in the program and took the initiative to debug it by yourself, you may not remember it 6 months later. And it’s not only hard for you to remember these moments— sometimes it’s downright impossible for your bosses to remember them. When they’re managing a team, a department, or a whole company, your achievement might not be something they think of when you need to ask for a raise or are doing a review. IT recruiting agencies suggest you take matters into your own hands and advocate for yourself. Document the contributions you’ve made at work so you can share them all with your bosses when it counts!
3. Lastly, this document might serve as a great pick-me-up. Just as all tech professionals have great days, they also all have a bad day now and then. Save a document with all your big wins at work and take a look at the next time you’re having a tough day, a crisis of confidence, or are just feeling unmotivated. Just as you benefit from advocating for yourself, you also benefit from cheering yourself on. True tech professionals know that you can’t always count on coworkers and bosses to do this—sometimes it’s great to be able to rely on yourself.
IT recruiters find that sometimes employers change the requirements of IT jobs even as they’re conducting interviews. Sometimes a candidate will be asked about a technology they’ve never had exposure to or aren’t very confident in. If this happens to you, here are a few tips from technical recruiters.
1. Don’t lie. Never, lie about having familiarity or experience with a technology. This will always hurt you. If you wind up hired for a job you can’t do, ultimately you’ll be fired. If your lie is exposed, either because you can’t answer further questions about the technology or some other way, you’ll lose all credibility with this employer and IT recruiting firms. Once IT staffing agencies or employers find out you’ve lied about something, you’re often blacklisted. Worse, sometimes they’ll tell others in the industry about your actions. That means you might ruin your reputations with others, too.
2. Stay calm and present the fact that you don’t know something in a neutral way. It’s ok not to have exposure or expertise with every programming language or web platform. Things are changing constantly. New technologies are released frequently and companies often implement new technologies to keep up with industry trends. If you don’t have exposure, experience, or expertise in a technology, it’s fine. IT staffing firms find that if you present this as no big deal, your interviewer is likely to see it the same way.
3. Mention technologies you are familiar with, especially ones you think would help you learn the one(s) you don’t know. Employers hire candidates all the time who don’t have the exact skill-set they initially started for searching for. You might be a good fit for the job, even if you need to spend some time studying a new programming language or development method before you start.
Even if you’re not looking for new IT jobs, you should still take 15 minutes to update your resume. What’s the point? Especially in tech, passive candidates get offered interesting opportunities all the time. According to a 2015 survey from LinkedIn, around 60% of companies recruit passive candidates. There are a few reasons why IT recruiters may often end up contacting people who aren’t openly on the job market. LinkedIn makes this easy, as people often wind up essentially posting their resumes online, even when it’s not for job search purposes. (Over 3 quarters of LinkedIn participants are not expressly looking for new jobs.) Particularly because there is such a dearth of qualified tech candidates in the US, IT staffing companies also find that employers will be looking for rare skill-sets. In an effort to fill them, they may turn to passive candidates simply because they are capable of doing the job (when so many candidates are not). But is this a good thing for the candidates? Absolutely.
If you’re a passive candidate, getting contacted by IT recruiting firms about jobs is a bit an ideal circumstance. You have the space to really consider if a job will be a good move for you, since you’re not desperate to leave your current role. You’ll also have a chance to really negotiate for what you want—a better commute, schedule, salary, etc. As a passive candidate, you’re the one sought after (likely because you have the right skill-sets, experience, and will be able to really hit the ground running). You are the one with the most negotiating power.
So if you’re an IT professional, why not take the time to polish up your resume. Polish your LinkedIn profile, too. Even if you couldn’t imagine leaving your current role, you never know what kinds of opportunities you might be contacted about. Make sure you’re ready if IT staffing agencies reach out with the dream job you haven’t even dreamed of yet. Take time to update the most important parts of your resume. Are all the technologies you’ve worked with under your ‘Technical Proficiencies’ section? Did you list your most current role and your achievements there? Is your summary full of the kinds of achievements, skills, and experience that your ideal roles ask for? Make sure it’s all ready for technical recruiters, even if they asked for it next week.
When you’re polishing your resume for IT recruiters, you want every change to be as impactful as possible. Why waste time updating a technical resume when every word doesn’t increase your chances of landing your dream IT jobs? One really powerful section of your resume is the summary. Great summaries can hook technical recruiters and potential employers because they’re usually right at the top of the resume. Here’s how to create a more powerful summary.
1. Delete all statements that are about subjective, personal qualities. IT staffing companies and employers aren’t interested in statements like ‘hard worker.’ If anything, IT staffing companies want to hear that you’re a hard worker from somebody who’s qualified to say that about you: a manager, team leader, possibly a coworker.
2. Make each statement speak to the IT jobs you want to land in the future. What are qualities your target employers want? What are the kinds of accomplishments or experience they’re looking for? That’s what you should put in your bullet points.
3. Keep it a reasonable length. Some IT recruiting companies find that people will turn in a summary that runs to the end of page 1. At some point, IT recruiters and employers may stop reading if your summary is too long. If it’s in bullet points, more than 5 will probably be too many. If it’s in a paragraph format, try keeping your summary to 4 or 5 sentences.
4. Mention key technologies in your summary. You don’t want to list all technologies (that’s for your ‘Technical Proficiencies’ section), but if the jobs you’re looking for will all require, say, a certain programming language, make sure to include that you have experience using it!