Monthly Archives: November 2013

Why Being Laid Back in IT Makes You More Marketable

A recent study shows that IT professionals who work closely with their coworkers are more likely to dislike them.  IT jobs that require IT contractors to work in a heavily team-oriented environment (versus ones that are more independent in nature) will provide far situations in which IT consultants are more likely to get frustrated with coworkers and their work habits.

Knowing about these risks, IT managers want IT headhunters to seek out particular kinds of people for team-oriented positions.  Technical recruiters are specifically looking for people who not only have stellar resumes, but who are also slow to get irritated or upset.  These are the people who will be less likely to hate their coworkers, no matter what their work habits.  More importantly, these are the people IT recruiters can count on to stay calm and get the job done, no matter how their coworkers behave on the job.

Handling Difficult End Users in IT

IT professionals are often faced with difficult end users in their IT jobs.  Even if these end users are less than easy to please and grateful, IT managers count on IT contractors to handle them with grace and top notch customer service.   IT headhunters also deeply value IT consultants who can tout their interpersonal skills, particularly in difficult situations.  How can you sail smoothly through difficult situations with end users?

Set expectations early.  If time is an issue for the user, be upfront about when they will be likely to receive service and a complete solution for their issue.

Maintain a calm, polite demeanor– no matter what.  Keeping your cool will help your end user also maintain a better attitude.  It will also help you to avoid becoming too submissive or domineering.  If you’re too submissive, you might invite abuse.  If you’re too domineering, you may aggravate the user or garner some very bad reviews about your service later.  Keeping your personal interaction unremarkable will make it easy for the end user to focus on the most important thing: the fact that you solve their issue.

Stay focused and only take information that is valuable from the end user.  Sometimes they can, in an attempt to be helpful, give half-baked theories, extra information, or start trying to make small talk.  As mentioned earlier, don’t be rude or dismissive.  Do attempt to keep your eyes on the prize, though and don’t get distracted by extraneous and incorrect information.  Your goal is to fix the end user’s issue, so filter out everything but the useful data to do that.


Keeping Stress in IT at the Office

Sometimes information technology can be a stressful field to work in.  IT recruiters can be required to solve problems in tight time frames or for IT managers or end users who are particularly frazzled.  While technical recruiters often warn the IT contractors they work with about possible stressors in a job, sometimes you just can’t be prepared for something stressful at work.  If IT contractors encounter a lot of stress at work, it’s important from them to find a way not to take it out on family, friends, etc.

While IT jobs can be stressful sometimes, IT professionals should try to avoid bringing that stress home with them if they can.  One way to do this is to seek out support before you can bottle up your frustration or anxiety.  Getting on the phone or out to coffee with a trusted mentor, or even just a friend who is willing to listen, will help.  It’s also better to have a few methods for stress relief on hand for when you need them.  Figuring out that a jog after work will make you feel better will also help you ensure that you don’t take work stress out on your family.  The best part of achieving success in this goal is that it will help make you happier.  Being happier around your family or friends after work will make them happier, and their mood will in turn boost your own happiness.


Questions to Ask in an IT Job Interview

In a field like information technology, IT professionals often operate on shorter timelines and do short contracts with various companies.  Because IT consultants leave and enter new companies more often than most other professionals, it’s important they are great at impressing IT managers in interviews.  IT contractors can really wow their IT recruiters, IT managers, and score IT jobs when they consider one key fact in their interviews: Making sure they highlight how they can benefit the interviewing manager and company at large.

The best place to do this is in the questions section of an interview.  If you take the time to ask a few well-phrased questions, you can portray yourself as an invaluable asset to managers and teams.  Ask questions that get to the root of what a manager needs.  For instance, consider asking what you’d do in the role that would make the manager’s job easier.  Another way to impress an interviewer is to ask questions about what their best previous and current employees offer them.  If you show that you’re interested in what a company needs, you will exceed their expectations and show how valuable you can be to the company.


IT’s Newest Playground: Egypt

Information technology is finding some new ground around Cairo, Egypt.  A new area meant to become the next Silicon Valley is being developed now in Egypt.  IT consultants and IT managers are creating startups in a nation ripe for it.  About half of Egypt’s population is under 30 and used twitter and facebook during their recent revolution, which means most of them are the young, technologically-literate people who often are or become IT contractors.  With the startup culture growing in Egypt and its reputation slowly growing as well, it’s only a matter of time before IT recruiting agencies and technical recruiters begin to consider Egypt in their expansion plans.  Business Insider and Huffington Post are already talking about drool-worthy resumes and companies in the surprising new IT-centric territory.


How to Keep Up Appearances When Telecommuting in IT

IT professionals are more like to get the opportunity to telecommute because of the progressive nature of the information technology industry.  Taking this option, whether it’s full time or only for a few days a month or once a week, brings a specific responsibility, though.  Because IT managers cannot actually see IT contractors working from home, it’s important they find a way to make sure their value and achievements in their IT jobs are highly visible anyways.  There are a few things IT consultants can do to make sure that their time telecommuting still looks highly productive to their IT managers, and in turn, the IT recruiters they work with.

1.    Be very accessible.  Make sure your coworkers and managers know how to reach you (perhaps with several methods) and be very responsive to all these methods.  If you aren’t physically in the office, it’s imperative to still be easy to contact.

2.    Set expectations with your manager, including setting up things like weekly meetings, phone calls, or email updates.  If you prove to your manager that you’re very interested in understanding their expectations and meeting them, you are actually demonstrating something larger.  The more independently you work, the more of an asset you become as an employee.  Getting work done with little management or supervision is golden.

3.    Make sure people know about your accomplishments and contributions.  Whether it’s coworkers or managers, they need a reminder that you still exist as a functioning part of your workplace.  Avoid being obnoxious about it, but do make sure your work speaks for you even if you don’t occupy a cubicle.


Deal-breakers in IT

All IT contractors have their deal-breakers for IT jobs.  Whether it’s poor management or abusive behavior from IT managers, options for telecommuting or flexible scheduling, or particular kinds of commutes or distances for commutes, there are just some reasons IT consultants will turn down a job IT staffing agencies recommend.

Deal-breakers are certainly acceptable, especially in a field like information technology, where the jobs are pretty plentiful.  In fact, they can also be very helpful if stated within reason to IT headhunters. IT recruiters want to know what IT professionals’ deal-breakers are so they avoid placing them in jobs that are not good fits for them long term.  If an IT professional keeps a deal-breaker under wraps, and then winds up in a job that has it, they won’t stay long.  This will potentially burn bridges for them, their IT recruiting agencies they work with, the hiring managers, and others.  Having a copious list of deal-breakers that make most jobs impossible is not going to do you any good.  However, being aware of your (reasonable) deal-breakers and making sure your technical recruiters are also aware of them will make your placements much more likely to be successful—for everyone involved.


Taking Risks in Your IT Career

Information technology demands certain certifications and education as entry tickets, but experience counts just as much for IT professionals when it comes to promotions and expanding their careers.  IT headhunters would advise IT contractors to be wary of taking IT jobs they aren’t prepared for, but the IT consultant who takes a job or project that sounds slightly unappealing or a little more challenging will be deeply rewarded.

Challenging experiences at work can really pay off later in the form of better offers of IT jobs from IT staffing agencies, better pay, and better confidence.  Technical recruiters can certainly vouch for the fact that taking some risks or making some sacrifices at work will pay off in the long run.  In such a hot market, no new IT skill will go unrewarded and getting great references or earning the respect of IT managers and IT headhunters will quickly pay off. So the next time you’re offered or come across a job or project outside your usual skill-set, seriously consider diving in anyways.  It might just propel your career to the next level.


Starting a New Job in IT

IT contractors start new IT jobs much more often than their counterparts in other fields.  The best IT consultants, the ones IT recruiting agencies love to work with, are the ones who know how to start a new job well.  IT headhunters really appreciate IT professionals who know how to make a great first impression with IT managers because that first impression really sets the tone for the rest of the contract.  Here are a few ways to start a job well:

1.      Create goals for yourself.  Make sure these goals are in line not only with your job description, but the company’s goals overall.  The best asset a manager can have is a report who understands the big picture.

2.      Don’t ignore your coworkers.  In fact, take time to make sure you get to know them a bit, try to do what you can to help them out, and make sure to give them credit where credit is due.  Being a team player is incredibly impressive because it’s not always easy to do.  If you put energy into actually making your teammates’ plates less full at work and their days more pleasant, you’ll be recognized for it.

3.      Figure out the office culture and try to blend into it as quickly as possible.  The best new employees are the ones who don’t feel new.  Figure out the written and unwritten rules at work and start to follow them as soon as possible.


How to Plan for Holiday Time in IT

IT professionals may have begun trying to figure out their holiday plans and what days to ask for off (or not) from their IT jobs.  IT consultants are particularly prone to having tough decisions to make around holiday time because information technology is often a 24/7 kind of field.  IT managers often need their IT contractors’ coverage even during days the rest of the country will close up shop. What, then, is the best way to approach the quandary of trying to get time off in a situation that requires hands on deck, if not all hands on deck, all the time?

Firstly, consider the needs of the company and the needs of your team as you make your decisions.  Making sure to take stock of major deadlines, releases, or what your teammates might need you for until the end of the year.  IT headhunters don’t like working with the kind of employees who don’t at least consider their employers’ and teammates needs.  Secondly, try to consider not only your personal situation, but your teammates’ personal situations.  Do they have children?  Do they need to travel for the holidays?  Or do they not care about them at all.  It is true that having children or being religious shouldn’t automatically give somebody particular holidays off and automatically stick everyone else with a day at work. However, it’s also the right thing to do as a teammate to at least make an effort to accommodate your teammates’ needs.  They’ll probably do the same for you in turn.    Lastly, consider checking into options for overtime or holiday pay. Don’t be demanding, but make sure you’re aware of all your options.  There may be overtime or time-and-a-half pay for holidays that you and your team are not aware of.  You may just wind up fighting for the chance to work on the holidays.