Monthly Archives: September 2013

Doing Your Research Before an IT Interview

IT recruiters and IT staffing companies tend to recommend that IT consultants do their research before interviewing for IT jobs.  This might seem straightforward enough, but it’s worth it for IT contractors to review the research they need to do that is not technology-specific as they prepare to meet IT managers.

The first step any technical recruiters will suggest is to research the company.  Going to the company’s website and blog are good first stops.  It’s also worth it to check out glass door for your own reference to see if you’ll like the work environment.

The next step IT recruiting agencies would recommend is reading industry-specific news.  Reviewing recent news for the industry that you’ll be interviewing in will give you something interesting to speak with our interviewer about.  You might also have some ideas of what the company’s priorities are or major factors in its business.

The last step to consider is to look up the person you’ll be interviewed by.  Looking for common ground, finding out their role, and finding out more about their background will all help you become the most appealing candidate you can be.  People love to work with people who understand them, so you can show up already having a basic understanding of your interviewer.

Don’t Fake it in IT Interviews

IT staffing companies and technical recruiters give plenty of advice to IT consultants about interviews: what to wear, when to get there, what kinds of questions to be ready to respond to or ask.  There is a subtle underlying rule that IT headhunters hope that IT contractors are already aware of, though.  It’s best to be genuine throughout an interview. 

While IT staffing firms aren’t looking for people who flaunt the rules of office and interview etiquette, they are looking for people who provide more genuine, personable responses to questions than their resumes might provide.  IT professionals who give the perfect, cookie-cutter response to questions are pretty questionable in their own right.  IT managers know nothing about them at the end of the interview because the answers they’ve given don’t say much about them as employees.

IT professionals who are getting ready to interview can easily avoid the trap of looking too perfect.  Preparing for interviews should be done in a way that doesn’t rob you of your personality or work style.  If you find suggested answers to questions online or elsewhere, make sure they are still answers you could honestly give.   Perhaps doing this kind of preparation might take a bit longer, but it’s worth it.  The price of not doing it will likely result in not getting the job.

When to Stay in Your IT Job…and When to Leave

IT consultants must ask themselves a tough question from time to time: Should I start looking to leave my current job?  IT professionals who are considering polishing their resumes should consider a few major factors before trying to move on to new IT jobs.

The first major fact is the state of the economy and the information technology.  Currently, IT contractors will find that the economy is not in the best shape.  However, the IT field is booming.  Making a move wouldn’t be prohibitively risky at the moment.

The next factor to consider is motivation.  IT recruiters and IT staffing agencies tend to shy away from people who only want to leave their jobs for more money, because they’re bored, or because they’re overworked.  A combination of factors is acceptable, but on their own, each of these factors can be addressed and probably improved at least somewhat.

The last factor to consider is time.  If you’ve only been with your current employer for less than a year (and it’s not a contract), it’s best to try to wait it out.  Technical recruiters do have more tolerance for what might be called ‘job hopping’ in other fields, but if you can avoid having less than a year at any location, you should wait.


Going Over an IT Manager’s Head

Sometimes in information technology it’s unclear if you should follow your IT managers or go over their heads.  While this situation isn’t enviable, IT contractors and IT headhunters can use a few major rules of thumb to determine if it will hurt or help their IT jobs to go over a manager’s head.

There are two instances in which IT recruiters and IT professionals are always justified in going over a manager’s head.  The first circumstance is when a manager is actively breaking the law (or laws!).  The second is when a manager is harassing, threatening, or discriminating against you.  Both circumstances are already too fraught with issues for you to solve on your own.

If technical recruiters or IT professionals don’t find themselves in one of the above circumstances, there are a few other criteria to consider.  The first is the frequency of the issue.  If it’s a one-time issue, it might be best to hold off.  Secondly, one should consider the intensity of the issue.  If it threatens the physical, emotional, or general well-being of you, the company, a colleague, or is equally serious, it’s time to go over a manager’s head.

There is also one instance in which it is never ok to go over your manager’s head.  This is if the people you are going to seek out tend to side with the manager or will be unlikely to protect you from any retaliation from your manager.  With unsupportive upper management, it’s definitely not worth the risk.  In fact, it’s best to start looking for a new job in such circumstances.

Avoiding Conflict in IT

IT jobs tend to require that IT contractors have either teamwork skills or customer service skills.  With requirements like these, IT staffing firms find it imperative to ensure that the IT consultants they work with not only have flawless resumes, but can also avoid and defuse conflicts.

The best case scenario for IT recruiting agencies is to find IT job candidates who are capable not only of avoiding their own conflict, but also knowing when to defuse other people’s conflicts.  Technical recruiters prefer to work with candidates who recognize that the first step to avoiding any conflict is to emotionally detach from a situation.  Secondly, keeping the opposite perspective in mind is key to easily detangling a disagreement. Empathy never hurts on this front, either.

When it comes to positively impacting work conflicts with co-workers, IT staffing companies want candidates who are aware of when they are needed.  Instances with IT managers and superiors should be avoided.  These people don’t want inferiors attempting to resolve their issues.  Issues between peers are better grounds to interfere on, but only minimally.  IT headhunters don’t want busybodies.  The only scenario that absolutely requires intervention every single time is when a disagreement is about to occur in front of or with a client or potential client.  Keeping the client happy and confident in the company is of the utmost importance– and disagreements never help with those goals.


New Ways to Consider Time Management in IT

The information technology field can be pretty hectic, and IT professionals with time management skills are certainly at a premium.  Some new research might help IT consultants, IT recruiters, and IT managers think differently about how they can work at their IT Jobs most efficiently.

The first thing IT contractors and technical recruiters can do to maximize their time is to think of it in terms of quality not quantity.  The hours when one is at their best (mentally, if not also physically) are the hours that should be saved for the toughest projects.  Even if these are only 2 hours in the morning, they may be far more valuable than the 4 hours after lunch.

The second thing to consider is what to do with off-time.  Nights, weekends, and vacations can all bring a vital boost to productivity during work hours.  IT staffing firms note that after a vacation, IT headhunters and IT professionals are far more productive.  Some studies suggest the impact lasts up to a month after the vacation.  The same boost can be seen after weekends if they’re full of valuable, quality time spent relaxing and getting away from work. 

Interruptions in IT

As open plan offices become more and more common and information technology departments are less and less often relegated to the basement, IT professionals are experiencing exponentially more interruptions during their IT jobs.

After various studies, it seems that most IT contractors are experiencing interruptions so frequently that they spend about 3 minutes at a time uninterrupted.  This number seems to rise more for IT managers.  3 minutes is shockingly small amount of time.  Perhaps what is even more shocking is how often IT consultants might actually be interrupting themselves

Technical recruiters and the IT staffing firms they work for must find new candidates that not only have sparkling resumes, but also IT job candidates who can work despite these interruptions.  They are clearly not going anywhere any time soon.

Major Resume Mistakes to Avoid in IT

Creating perfect resumes in the information technology field isn’t hard.  IT professionals often have the benefit of IT recruiters and their praise accompanying their resumes to IT managers.  Even if IT consultants have this added benefit, though, they certainly won’t get anywhere in their job search (with hiring managers or IT staffing firms) if they make big mistakes in their job hunting materials.  These are some of the biggest mistakes IT contractors should avoid in their resumes:

1.   Not listing skills: In IT, skills are everything.  Giving a concise run-down of skills and certifications provides a distinct advantage in the job hunt because it makes it so much easier for technical recruiters to identify if you match a job’s requirements.

2. Listing an unprofessional email address for contact purposes:  This error is particularly egregious because your email address can be considered a reflection of your personality.  Either make it too bland to actually reflect anything about you, or make it reflect something positive.

3. Copying extensively from job postings on resumes: Not being able to reflect upon your own job experience and communicate it in your own words is a terrible sign for IT staffing agencies.  If you really got something out of a job, you’d be able to at least write about what you did in your own way.

4. Including photos: Information technology is different than acting.  Headshots are not required and it may puzzle people if you provide them.  Better to just save them for your grandma. 


IT Certifications and Degrees: Coming Soon from Pepsi?

IT recruiters Boston to IT recruiters CA have been seeing some surprises on IT contractors’ resumes: corporate schools.  Brands like Red Bull have been creating programs that provide traditionally more academic type training.  With new technologies coming out all the time, the information technology field is particularly fertile for such “corporate schools.”  The ability to hire splashy speakers on hot topics is practically second nature to a lot of big brands.  Selling seats for the lecture is only a problem when they are just that: seats that are sold.  The educational value is still debatable when these schools have to weigh their desire for consumers with things like testing, student evaluations, and grades.

For now, these collaborations are a little controversial.  IT headhunters are less than thrilled to find IT consultants with credentials they so obviously paid for and have far less reputable names.  However, IT professionals are pointing out that many credentials already fit these bills (no pun intended).  Additionally, charter schools and online education long ago starting paving the way for these corporate schools.  IT certifications seem more likely to start coming from corporate schools more and more frequently in the future.  It’s only a matter of time.

“Failure” in IT Still Tastes Sweet

The information technology field and the IT professionals who work in it have certainly portrayed a different version of ‘economic downturn’ than any other field in the economy.  Even as the economy slowly crawls back, IT jobs multiply exponentially, often outnumbering the amount of IT consultants who can take them.  All this success means that failure is also portrayed pretty differently in the IT field.  IT contractors and IT headhunters have some rather inspiring “failures” to look up to.

Myspace can show IT recruiters and IT contractors just how sweet “failure” can taste.  The New York Times recently reported that Myspace’s founding team has created a menagerie of startups, each member going on to find their own success in a new company they have founded or co-founded.  While Myspace is arguably pretty much irrelevant now, its failure is certainly not an indicator of the success its founders have reached.

Another example of “failure” that doesn’t taste particularly bitter is Andrew Mason, ex-CEO of Groupon.  Mason’s very public firing didn’t even seem to faze him as it occurred.  His tongue-in-cheek letter to employees telling them that he was fired showed a pretty relaxed attitude towards the whole debacle.  Mason is currently consulting at Y-Combinator and has put out a CD of inspirational career songs.  The second part of that statement is odd, but the first is pretty telling.  Mason is not worried about where he will end up, and is likely just fishing for his next opportunity while working at Y-Combinator.