Monthly Archives: October 2013

Fighting the Right Battles in Your IT Job

IT professionals may come across many inconveniences and deficiencies at their IT jobs.  Perhaps they are IT contractors, but would like to be taken on as permanent employees.  Perhaps they are lacking software or tools that would make their jobs easier and more effective.  Or perhaps they are just frustrated with the way their IT managers treat them.  Most IT consultants hold off on picking too many battles at their workplaces for fear of angering their bosses or the IT staffing firms that placed them in their jobs.  While this strategy makes sense, there are some battles IT headhunters might actually appreciate their contractors taking on.

IT recruiting agencies would certainly appreciate not having their candidate turn out to be whiny and difficult to manage.  The better a candidate is at putting their head down and getting a job done, the more technical recruiters will want to work with them again.  However, sometimes there are issues with the workplace that, if fixed, would benefit the company greatly.  Advocating cautiously with a well-researched solution can certainly get an IT manager’s attention.  Sometimes, even if your solution to an issue isn’t used, getting the conversation started is still a victory.  Perhaps a more effective procedure can be found at work or a cheaper or more efficient tool can be used.  Management and IT staffing companies will deeply appreciate an IT consultant who picks and fights suavely the battles that benefit his or her entire company.


How to Give a Great Reference in IT

When IT professionals are looking at new IT jobs, references might not seem quite as relevant as in other fields.  After all, information technology tends to require very specific skill sets and certifications on resumes. However, technical recruiters love to work with IT contractors who are prepared with stellar references.  IT staffing agencies particularly love to work with IT consultants whose references know how to give a stellar reference.  There are a few nuances to this.

Firstly, being informed about the position or types of positions somebody is applying to is key.  If you know what skills and strengths to highlight, you can make a person look like the best fit for a job.

Secondly, it’s best to provide an honest, but carefully edited reference.  Playing up skills that are unique and really make a candidate stand out will do wonders. Leaving out personal qualities that could be controversial will also do just as much.  Providing too much personal detail or too bland a reference, or something that is just a bold-faced lie, won’t do the candidate any good.  In fact, it could harm them.  If not in the job process, perhaps they land in a job that they are a terrible fit for and get fired down the road.


How to Handle Being Fired in IT

IT professionals, like most other professionals, are just as likely to experience being fired at least once over the course of their working lives.  Technical recruiters certainly don’t prefer finding a firing (or two) on their IT consultants’ resumes, but they are not the end of the world.  IT headhunters are not thrown if IT contractors handle firings in a professional, graceful manner both in behavior and on their resume.   What are the steps to take to make sure a firing doesn’t dent your career?

Firstly, if your IT managers fire you, maintain a calm demeanor publicly.  This especially extends to your social media and online presence.  Giving anything less than a calm response could burn bridges, hurt your dignity, or result in legal action at the very worst case scenario.

Secondly, take time to be upset privately, but don’t let it hinder you from moving  forward quickly.  Start contacting IT staffing agencies and formulating a contingency plan.  Looking at new IT jobs and working hard to get yourself into a new one, rather than wallowing, will be key in making sure your resume doesn’t really reflect this hiccup in your career.

Lastly, when you finally do land a new job, enter it as though you were not just fired.  Don’t allow that event to dent your confidence in learning your new job, taking on new responsibilities, and interacting with your new coworkers.  This firing may not actually say much about your competence as any employee, anyways.  Even if it does point to a weakness, learn from it and move on.  Focusing on past failures will be one of the surest ways to repeat it again in the future.

Handling IT Recruiters

IT recruiters are a fact of life for IT professionals.  The information technology market is so hot that IT staffing firms and IT headhunters are and probably will be a fixture for a long time.  IT consultants tend to have mixed feelings about how to deal with technical recruiters, but here are a few basic guidelines.

Firstly, establish relationships with IT staffing agencies before you are polishing your resumes.  This means that when you do need them, IT recruiting firms will have already looked at IT jobs for you.

Secondly, consider the IT recruiting companies you’re working with as professional contacts.  While they may not be the company you work for directly, it’s important to consider that they will be representing you.  Giving them the most professional version of yourself will yield the best results.

Lastly, be honest with IT recruiting companies you are working with.  You will get the best job for you if you give them good information.  If you lie about a qualification, interest, or your salary expectations, you’ll wind up with a job offer (or worse, a job) that doesn’t make sense for you.


Using or Avoiding Your Phone in IT

Information technology has gone through a customer-service oriented change in the last 10 years.  IT consultants are not attractive to IT recruiters if they only have pristine resumes.  IT staffing agencies are now seeking IT contractors who are socially adept and will be great a communicating with their IT managers or co-workers.  This means that IT professionals have a bit of a quandary on their hands when it comes to answering their office phones. 

While text messages have brought about a general distaste for the phone, it has only compounded the fact that many people at the office tend to want to avoid their office line.  But is this ok when they are expected to be great communicators?  There is, of course, no straight answer to this.  Office policies, official and unofficial, are the best guides here.  The quickest way to get a good idea of how IT professionals should act towards phone calls is to check out how people in other departments do.  If people in departments with heavy emphasis on communication always pick up their phones, it’s better to follow suit.  Even if IT is different, communication skills are key.  Displaying a lack of them, even if it doesn’t affect your work, is a terrible idea.

Email curfew in IT?

Information Technology is on a 24-7 kind of schedule to meet the demands of IT managers and their superiors.  Would the idea of an email curfew, a period of time when work-related email is frowned upon, ever be a possibility for IT consultants?

IT staffing firms may soon be seeing the IT contractors they work with finding ways to adapt to such a practice at their IT jobs.  The practice is already finding traction at a Philadelphia company and all over the internet as various news sources and bloggers debate how effective the method is at facilitating work-life balance or hindering effective business.  It seems like only a matter of time before technical recruiters find themselves searching not only for pristine resumes, but also for IT professionals who can adhere to an email curfew and still get all their work done quickly.

Avoiding Bad Advice in IT Jobs or Job Hunting

IT recruiters come across IT consultants who act upon a lot of bad advice. IT staffing firms find that unfortunately, there is plenty of terrible advice that is nearly indistinguishable from good advice about during, on the hunt for, and when leaving IT jobs.   IT professionals who are polishing their resumes, or simply trying to figure out how to improve in their current job, can take a few steps in trying to avoid poor advice about how to act in the information technology field.

Firstly, consider the source of the advice.  If you would trust the source normally, considering finding at least one more source that would confirm the advice.  If you wouldn’t normally trust the source but are intrigued by the advice, try to find at least 3 places that confirm it.  Good advice is something most people can agree on, especially when it comes to the job hunt or workplace etiquette.

The second way to avoid bad advice about your job hunt or job etiquette is to consider checking with your IT headhunters or IT recruiting agencies before proceeding with it.  If they helped you land your current job or are helping you find a new one, it is in their best interest that you perform well and do the right things.  They also tend to have relationships with your employers/potential employers, or at the very least, companies that are similar to them.  Your technical recruiters will very likely know if you should follow or discard a piece of advice because they know your employers’ or potential employers’ preferences.


When You Have Too Much Work at Your IT Job

The undeniable growth of information technology means that IT professionals are likely to be dealing with an overwhelming amount of work at some time or another.  IT recruiters would prefer that IT contractors approach their IT managers with a few things in mind.

Firstly, IT headhunters would prefer that IT consultants assess their circumstances in rational, detailed ways. Start by creating a list of what projects need to be done, their deadlines, and any complications or projected dates that the project could actually be completed by.  Next, making a meeting with the best IT manger to speak to about the situation.  Bring the list and go over it in a calm way.  Emotional outbursts, while easy to give in to if one is very stressed or overwhelmed by a workload, will deeply hurt your case.  Lastly, be prepared to offer or help find the solution to your frustration.  Offering alternatives (ones that are viable and will still help your boss) or being helpful as they try to create an alternative, will also earn you points.  If you make the task of reconfiguring your workload easier for your boss, you will make them far happier to do it for you.

The Importance of Taking Your Breaks in IT

Many IT professionals will choose to work through their lunch hours or breaks when their IT jobs get particularly busy.  Like any other kind of professional outside of information technology, IT recruiters and IT consultants can get caught up in the rush of deadlines or program releases, forgetting to take their half hour or hour lunch break during the day.  Even though this seems like the best way to get things done quickly, IT headhunters, IT consultants, and IT managers should seriously reconsider skipping all breaks during the workday.

There are two major reasons to make sure you take your lunch break—or at least a break at some point during the day.  The first is that your productivity may not be the best it could be if you don’t take time away from your work.  Walking away from your work and thinking of other things even for 20 minutes can free up your brain for a bit.   Sometimes, giving it that break will result in a surprising sudden insight.  Studies have shown repeatedly that problem-solving can occur more efficiently when people take breaks from the problem.

The second reason is that you might eat better. Studies have shown that people tend to eat more when they eat their lunch alone at their desk.  They tend to be so focused on their work, they’re less attuned to the “hungry” and “sated” signals their body might be sending.  People who step away from their desks for lunch might also make better nutritional choices, too.  There are a few reasons for this, but again, it probably comes down to focus.  Putting all focus on making good food choices, rather than on your work, will make it easier to make better decisions.  Of course, the better you eat, the better you’ll be able to perform later in the day.  So this second reason feeds right back into the first: better nutrition = better productivity.

IT Professionals are Commuting More…and Liking it

Information technology has plenty of telecommuting, but IT professionals and technical recruiters also spend quite a bit of time commuting to their IT jobs, too.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, IT contractors and IT headhunters, among their peers from other fields, tend to find ways to enjoy their commutes far more than in the past 5 or 10 years.

Mobile devices are a big part of this increase in commute satisfaction for IT consultants and IT managers. Commuters tend to use them to entertain themselves, get work done, or accomplish personal tasks online.  Some commuters are even finding ways to schedule their commutes as part of their work days.  Whether commuters focus or work or pleasure during their commutes, they seem to be more appreciative of them.