Most IT consultants know that there’s a certain etiquette for interviewing for IT jobs. There are the easy rules, like what to wear, what to bring with you, and what not to say. However, IT contractors will make their IT recruiters and IT staffing firms very happy if they are aware of some of the smaller, more nuanced rules of interview etiquette as well. Here are some things that seem small, if you pay attention to them it will really impress your IT recruiting agencies and technical recruiters—and it may just land you that dream job.
- Be on time, but don’t be too early. Especially in information technology, you won’t be doing yourself a favor to show up 30 minutes early. If anything, you may really inconvenience your interviewers, since they may feel rushed to meet with you. If you’re more than 10 minutes early, walk around the block or grab some coffee to kill time.
- Speaking of that coffee, don’t bring it into the building with you. It’s distracting and makes it look like you’re not prepared to start interviewing. Don’t bring any snacks or cell phone calls with you either. Just sit patiently and quietly in the reception area, so it seems like you’re ready to go, but at your interviewer’s leisure.
- Lastly, be kind and polite to any receptionists, drivers, etc you may encounter in your potential employer’s building. Some companies, like tech giant Zappos, actually speak to these people about you later. If you’re rude or difficult, that could lose you the job!
Most IT consultants hunting for new IT jobs know a lot about how to polish resumes and ace interviews. However, it’s almost as important for IT contractors to do something they rarely do: write excellent thank you notes after interviews. Here are some pointers that will help you write thank you notes that wow IT recruiters, IT staffing firms, and hiring managers.
Write a timely thank you note, but take your time writing it. Whether you send the thank you note yourself, or your technical recruiters or IT recruiting agencies send them for you, make sure the note is free of errors and thoughtful. It will make a far worse impression to just dash a note off for the sake of doing so—no matter how good the interview may have gone.
Don’t cross any boundaries. Being overly friendly or familiar in your note will make the hiring managers uncomfortable and your IT staffing agencies upset with you. Remember to remain professional in the note.
Make sure the note highlights not only why you’d be a great candidate, but also shows that you paid attention and learned more about the company. Making the note all about your own candidacy will make you look like less than a team player.
With smartphones becoming more and more prevalent, IT recruiters and IT consultants are finding that they’re using texting more and more often in their IT jobs and their IT job searches. While the nature of texting is always a bit more casual, there are a few things IT contractors should avoid when texting with colleagues, clients, or technical recruiters and IT staffing firms.
Firstly, IT professionals should never use texting to schedule things. You don’t know if your text will be received. Sometimes texting isn’t a mode of communication somebody uses, or uses frequently enough. A phone call or email makes things obvious and lets you know that everyone is aware of the date, location and time of a meeting.
Secondly, always double-check your messages before sending them. Autocorrect can make a mess of a professional, well-worded message. Don’t risk offending somebody or coming off poorly, especially when they hold your career in their hands. Take a few seconds to re-read texts before sending them to IT staffing companies, coworkers, or clients.
Lastly, leave all negativity out of texts. While in a phone conversation you can soften the blow of bad news or any negative statements, you can’t do the same in a text. It’s better to keep texts neutral or collegial and warm, because you know there is no way you’ll be upsetting the recipient.
All IT professionals have, at some point or another, had a tough time getting their IT managers or coworkers to read or respond to an email. Information technology is a busy field, and sometimes IT contractors are too swamped to be able to respond to all their emails quickly. In these cases, IT consultants should want to get attention with their emails, but not be too aggressive and build bad reputations (perhaps tarnishing their chances of working with IT recruiters again or getting new IT Jobs). Here are some ways to make sure that your emails are read, but IT headhunters and IT staffing firms don’t know you as the one who’s ‘difficult to work with.’
1. Start with a really positive re line. If you use things people want to hear, like ‘Good news,’ you’ll definitely increase the likelihood your emails will be seen and responded to. It’s always easier to respond to a pleasant, positive email.
2. Make a reference to a request they’ve made or one of their top priorities (if it’s actually relevant) in your re line and early on in your email. It’s always a sure way to get somebody’s attention if you write your email with their perspectives and values in mind.
3. Keep it quick. Whatever the content you use, keep your email short. Shorter emails are easier to respond to. In a time crunch, the easier your email is to deal with, the more likely you’ll get a response.
Information technology has always had a lot of contracting, but as of late IT professionals are finding themselves in contractor positions even more. Why are IT recruiters and IT staffing firms searching for more IT contractors than ever? There are a few reasons.
Firstly, more and more start-ups are growing and starting in the recovering economy. This means that IT headhunters are more likely to look for IT consultants to work at these start-ups. Since a bad hire can be particularly disastrous for a small company in its early years, hiring contractors is a good way to minimize this risk. Companies and professionals can make sure the fit for IT jobs is good before really making a binding employment commitment.
Secondly, plenty of companies that aren’t strictly in the IT sector are finding a need for IT professionals to do small projects for them. Rather than needing these professionals full time, they only need them for a short period of time, thus making contracting a popular option.
Lastly, it’s worth reiterating that IT has always been a contractor-heavy industry. As it grows (and it is definitely growing) so will its demand for contractors.
Since a lot of work is project-oriented in information technology, most IT contractors find themselves leaving IT jobs somewhat frequently. What IT consultants say on the last day of the job, whether their IT recruiters and IT staffing firms have found them a new job or not. Here are a few guidelines for IT professionals on what they should not be saying on their last day at job.
Don’t blast the company, job, your boss and coworkers, or the product or service. Assume anything negative you say will eventually get back to somebody. IT can be a small industry, and you’d never want to burn a bridge or tarnish your own reputation. It’s not worth it– no matter how good it would feel to let the criticism fly.
Don’t say anything about counteroffers and try to end all conversations about them ASAP. In the long run, nobody is actually happy at a place that gives them a counteroffer. It’s not worth getting into any haggling over one, either. Keeping things civil and clean is your best bet.
Don’t frame your decision to leave as something related to money. This will make things awkward and potentially do a lot of harm to your reputation. IT recruiters and IT staffing agencies don’t like to work with IT professionals who just jump from job to job, seeking the highest compensation. Don’t make it seem possible to view you in that light.
Any IT contractors looking for new IT jobs know that their LinkedIn profile is almost as important as resumes are. IT recruiting agencies and new potential employers alike are drawn to IT consultants with concise, effective LinkedIn profiles that clearly demonstrate their experience in the information technology industry. Here are some key words to scrub from your profile (and resumes) so technical recruiters and IT staffing agencies start calling you nonstop.
- Buzzwords: People-pleaser, synergy, team player, go-getter, etc. Just hold back on these. They don’t actually do you any favors because they’ve been used so frequently that they’re pretty meaningless. It’s also far more effective to show you have these qualities through any achievements at work or recommendations you get from previous bosses, etc.
- I, Me, My, She, He, and other pronouns. Generally, you don’t need to be speaking about yourself or others directly. Doing so can get awkward at best and look downright narcissistic in the worst case scenario. While it wasn’t always true, IT companies currently tend to really value hiring somebody with a great personality. Don’t risk making it look like you don’t have one by using pronouns in your LI profile.
- Ninja and other ‘creative’ titles. While these might fit into your culture at work right now, they may turn off IT headhunters or potential new IT managers. Better to keep your profile pretty conventional—your skills and experience is what will really turn heads.
For IT contractors hunting for new IT jobs, sometimes it’s hard to think critically about the questions interviewers ask. IT recruiters and IT staffing companies can prepare IT consultants for the questions they’ll be asked. However, there are always some questions that seem to come out of the blue. Sometimes, these questions veer away from legal topics, like resumes, technical knowledge, etc, and into the illegal. IT Professionals can review the below list so they won’t be caught off guard when they’re asked about one of these off-limits topics.
Criminal history: In some states, while a background check is legal, asking about criminal history is not. Even if it is legal, this kind of question isn’t really appropriate for interviews.
Marital status: Again, marital status isn’t always illegal to ask about, but it’s pretty much always inappropriate. Employers may be trying to fish for a few pieces of information that just aren’t fair to judge you on as a potential employee.
Religion: Like marital status and criminal history, this isn’t always illegal. If you think you’re being asked the question out of discriminatory motives, this is important to note and probably discuss with your IT headhunters.
Age: Sometimes interviewers slip and try to ask about age. There are plenty of reasons why answering this question outright can be harmful to you as a potential employee. Check in your state’s laws to see if this question is illegal and consider how you’ll protect yourself if it is.
There are some fields, like information technology, where mistakes can make a big impact. When IT contractors make large mistakes with big consequences at their IT jobs, how should their managers respond? Here are some tips for both IT consultants and IT managers about how to handle big mistakes.
For the IT professionals who made the mistake: Start by taking action. Don’t hide the mistake, because it will make things far worse—both for your company and for you. IT recruiters and IT staffing firms will want to work with somebody who is honest with their bosses and coworkers. Hiding mistakes looks very dishonest. Secondly, make sure that in addition to fixing it, you pay attention to why the mistake happened in the first place. If you don’t know why the mistake happened, you can’t avoid it in the future. Lastly, make a plan for how you’ll ensure that the mistake is fixed and will not happen again. If you can handle it with grace and competence, you may even be able to bolster your reputation with IT headhunters.
For the managers dealing with the mistake: Start by removing any emotion from the situation. Investigate the mistake and seek employees’ honest responses to questions like ‘what happened?’ Accusations may seem like the best way to go, but if you approach employees with a more collaborative attitude, you’ll get more help solving the problem and more information about why the problem occurred. This leads to the second and most important point: don’t just solve the problem, figure out exactly why the mistake was made. You need to know if your employee needs more training, if there are other factors at play, or if the employee isn’t able to meet the job’s expectations. After the mistake is fixed, do some analysis and figure these things out. Then work to fix these issues so you never have to deal with the same large mistake again.
Most IT consultants have had to do phone screens or phone interviews at some point or another in their information technology careers. While IT contractors should always be able to count on their IT recruiters to help prepare them for phone interviews, there are a few things they’ll have to do on their own.
1. Schedule (or make sure your technical recruiters schedule) the interview for a good time. Make sure you’ll be able to get to a quiet place (with good cell reception) for the call and that you’ll have extra time in case it goes over. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’ll be interrupted, distracted, or rushed. Double confirm the time, phone numbers, and who will call who with your IT headhunters if they schedule the interview for you.
2. Be just as prepared for this interview as you might be for a face-to-face one. Research the company, look over the job description, and refresh yourself on all relevant technical knowledge you’ll need to know. If possible, have hard copies of relevant info, like your resumes and notes on relevant technologies that you can refer to if you get stuck. Phone interviews might seem like they’re going to be less rigorous, but being the prepared candidate will really set you apart.
3. Be a little more enthusiastic than you might be in person. You don’t have to go overboard, but keep in mind that the interviewer is only experiencing your voice. Make sure it conveys plenty of personality and is just as engaging as you’d be in person.