IT recruiters see plenty of candidates who have been interviewing for years, but they still don’t land the job. Of course, there are plenty of reasons why you might not land the IT jobs you interview for that have nothing to do with you. (IT recruiting agencies see this all the time!) However, it’s worth stopping and checking to make sure you aren’t making these mistakes.
1. You’re not presenting your best, most professional self. Especially in the tech field, where things can feel a bit more laid back, technical recruiters see this too often. Even if the company you’re interviewing for lets people dress in jeans, curse and joke around, or act in some other casual way, don’t let it influence you. While you don’t want to be a stick in the mud, IT staffing firms find that the candidate who comes to the interview dressed in a suit and acts professionally and politely is usually the one who gets the job. So don’t get too casual before you get the job, no matter what your interviewers are like!
2. You’re not prepared with good questions to ask at the end. IT recruiting companies see this too often. Great candidates who have studied the relevant technologies inside and out can still bomb an interview if they don’t have at least a few good questions. Don’t ask anything you can google or get the answer to from your IT staffing agencies. Don’t ask anything that doesn’t feel like a genuine inquiry. Just do your research and check out these suggestions for great interview questions here.
3. You’re too busy selling yourself to make sure the job is a good fit for you, as well. While job interviews are about selling yourself, they’re also about making sure you land in a job you can succeed in. IT staffing companies find that employers want candidates who are at least a little picky about the jobs they take. If you just take any job, you may wind up in a situation in which you can’t perform well, don’t mesh well with the team or clients, or are simply very unhappy (and thus probably don’t perform well). Employers want to see you sussing out whether a job will let you exercise your strengths and fit your work style.
Besides the technical skills section (which helps technical recruiters quickly decided if you might be a fit for their open IT jobs), the bullets under your jobs are the most important part of your resume to hiring managers and IT recruiters. Cleaning them up and updating them is the best way to strengthen your resume. Here are three tips to maximize these bullets so your resume will wow hiring managers and IT staffing companies.
1. Make every bullet illustrate why you’re an asset to your employers. When IT recruiting firms are scanning resumes, they’re not looking for an unedited laundry list of your duties at each job. Especially in IT jobs that are not entry level, you may not even be able to list all your duties under each job without writing a short novel. Focus on your major achievements and contributions in each role. (Try quantifying these achievements or contributions with hard numbers and percentages to make even stronger bullets.) These are the pieces of information that really make you attractive to IT staffing agencies and employers.
2. Edit your bullets down. Keep in mind that the most powerful words in your bullets will be the first 5 or so. Since hiring managers and IT recruiting companies are often scanning through many, many resumes, briefer bullets will be the most effective. The first 5 or so words of each bullet will get the most attention because these are what people see as they scan. IT staffing firms sometimes see bullets that are 4 or more lines long. While it might feel like giving more information about your achievements gives you an advantage, you may just be turning off hiring managers and IT recruiters. Be concise in your bullets and use strong verbs in the beginning of the statements rather than words like ‘responsible for’, which are obvious anyways.
3. Make your bullets easier for technical and non-technical people to read. You never know who will be seeing your resume. Even if you’re getting hired for a programming job, you may have to pass through an HR screening with somebody who doesn’t know any programming languages. Besides making sure your resume is appealing to whoever might be reading it, this tactic is beneficial for another reason. You can demonstrate great communication skills by making highly technical information easier for everyone to understand. Great communication skills are especially in demand in the tech field. IT recruiting agencies find that many employers want people who are both well-versed in various technologies and able to communicate well with end users, clients, non technical employees, etc. So take the time to make your bullets easy for everyone to understand—it might just help land you a new job!
You probably spend valuable time prepping for your interviews. You talk with your IT recruiters, you brush up on the relevant technologies, you prepare some questions about the job, iron a suit, etc. When you go to all this effort to wow your interviewers, why hurt your chances by making small mistakes? Here’s one silly mistake that IT staffing companies see candidates make far too often: arriving too early for the interview.
Arriving too early might seem pretty harmless, but there are a lot of reasons IT recruiting companies see this mistake hurt candidates. Firstly, when candidates show up more than 10 or 15 minutes early, it can be pretty frustrating for the company. Some companies simply don’t have the room to accommodate guests for long periods of time. In the tech field in particular, IT staffing firms find that there are plenty of startups that don’t have much space for the reception area.
Another reason that IT recruiting agencies don’t recommend that candidates get to interviews earlier than 15 minutes is that it might suggest negative things about you. When your IT staffing agencies give you a time to show up, you make a favorable impression if you show up on time. Showing up 20 or 30 minutes early simply isn’t on time. It’s obviously not as bad as showing up late, but your interviewer planned to see you at a certain time. It’s your responsibility to be there for it. Not being on time can make it look like you’re disorganized, can’t follow directions, are inconsiderate, don’t have reliable transportation, etc. IT recruiting firms find that some candidates think people will only assume negative things about you if you’re late. It’s not true. The way to make the best impression is to show up at most 10 or 15 minutes earlier than the time your technical recruiters tell you to.
So what do you do if you are more than 10 or 15 minutes early to an interview? If you’re meeting your IT recruiters to be walked into the interview, call them. They may have you meet them at a nearby coffee shop or somewhere else to wait. If you’re not meeting your recruiters, find a coffee shop yourself to wait. Or take a walk around the area to kill time. You might even find that the extra minutes are a good time for you to get ready, go over your notes one more time, or simply relax and ease your nerves.
Many IT staffing firms find that candidates will assume they don’t need to write thank you notes after interviews when they work with IT recruiters. This is absolutely not true. Technical recruiters nearly always ask for their candidates to send along a thank you email. Here’s why, as well as how you can write a great thank you note for your IT staffing agencies to pass along to interviewers.
Firstly, here’s why your IT recruiting firms will likely ask you for a thank you note to give to your interviewers. A thank you note is one of the best ways to strengthen your candidacy. These notes are not only polite (though that’s a plus) but well-written ones let you provide a lasting, written impression of you as a great candidate. IT recruiting agencies have seen notes that do powerful things like reiterate why the candidate is a great fit for the role or expound upon an interesting question from the interview. Skipping a thank you note is like skipping the end of your interview: you’re skipping a prime moment to strengthen your candidacy.
So now that you understand why you need to give your IT staffing companies thank you notes to pass on to your interviewers, how do you write a stellar one? Start by making sure you take notes during your interview. Don’t trust yourself to remember a moment when you connected well with the interviewer or to remember a question you could have given a longer answer on. Take a note about it so you can use it in your thank you note later.
Secondly, IT recruiting companies would suggest you keep brevity in mind. Don’t write the interviewer a novel and try to turn the note around as quickly as you can. A great thank you note will be written promptly and will use every word to remind an interviewer why you’re a uniquely perfect fit for the job. Don’t waste the interviewer’s time with a generic template, either. This doesn’t do much to show how you are uniquely qualified for the role. Every word in a generic template is a word wasted!
Keep these tips in mind and you may just land the job next time!
Most IT recruiting agencies make sure their candidates are prepared with job interview questions. If you come without any, you’ll definitely hurt your chances of landing the IT jobs you interview for. However, it’s just as important to make sure that you have effective questions to ask. IT staffing firms can attest to the fact that there are some questions that will hurt your candidacy. Here are 3 types of questions that IT recruiting firms would definitely suggest you avoid asking.
1. Questions that fish for compliments. IT staffing companies would advise you to avoid questions like ‘Why did you like my resume?’ or ‘Why did you call me in for an interview?’ Even if you don’t mean to do so, your interviewer can assume you’re seeking some kind of compliments. Besides seriously annoying your interviewer, you risk coming across as arrogant or insecure, as well as wasting the interviewer’s time. Questions need to help you better understand the role, corporate culture, get to know what the manager’s style is like, etc. These kinds of questions don’t cover these areas at all.
2. Questions that you could have found the answer to yourself. IT staffing firms would definitely advise that you do not ask any questions that you could find the answer to by researching the company or asking your IT recruiters. You want to appear resourceful, competent, and prepared. By asking a question that you could have easily found the answer to, you destroy all hopes your interviewer will see you this way. Do your research on the company and don’t hesitate to ask your technical recruiters questions. This is part of the advantage they provide, so use it!
3. Questions that may feel disrespectful to the interviewer. Don’t ask if the interviewer has seen your resume, if you’ll be speaking with their boss, or how long the interview will take. You want to make sure the interviewer feels like you deeply appreciate their time and respect them as a professional. Be extra careful not to offend your interviewer or get too casual with them. Your only impression on them will be what your IT recruiting companies say about you and whatever you say in this interview. So every word, every gesture, every tone counts. Don’t take any risks in this regard, or you may hurt your chances of landing the IT job!
When you’re getting ready to work with IT recruiting firms to find your next role, the most important part is probably polishing and updating your resume. If you can’t hand your technical recruiters a great resume, you’ll severely limit the amount of IT jobs you can be considered for. Your IT recruiters can help you polish your resume a bit, but the only person who can really update it the best is you. You are the person who understands the projects you’ve completed and their impact, not the IT staffing agencies you work with. So as you put in the time to really flesh out each major role, project, and professional achievement in your resume, remember that the best resumes are easy to read for both non-technical people and very technically adept people.
Why is it necessary for your resume to be easy for technical and non-technical people to read? Firstly, it’s because your resume is a document for the hiring managers, HR people, and technical recruiters who will be involved in the hiring process. Sometimes IT professionals assume that all of these people will be up to speed on the technologies they work with, but this simply isn’t the case. In fact, it’s relatively often that IT recruiting agencies hand resumes off to a hiring manager or HR person who doesn’t have much experience with programming languages or troubleshooting, even if they’re the ones hiring for it! If you can’t make your resume readable for these people, you may find that you lose out on jobs. IT staffing firms can only do so much to sell you; if your resume doesn’t entice a hiring manager, it will get tossed.
Another reason you need to make sure your resume isn’t too technical for laymen to read is that doing so demonstrates great communication skills. IT recruiting companies have a much easier time placing candidates who are not only great at C# or SQL, but can also communicate well with people who aren’t great at these things. When you are adept with relevant technical skills, but you can also explain to non-technical people what you’re doing, you are infinitely more valuable. One powerful way to show this skill is by making your resume easy for anybody to read. This does more than a bullet saying that you’ve got good communication skills. It lets IT staffing companies and hiring managers experience these great communication skills firsthand.
So when you go to make a resume for your IT recruiters, take the extra time to make it easy for everyone to read. It may take extra time and effort on your part, but it will pay off quickly. Your IT recruiters will have no trouble finding you your dream role if you can give them a thorough, clear, easy to read resume!
When you’re polishing your resume, you shouldn’t waste an inch of space. IT recruiting firms and hiring managers are attracted by resumes that use every word to show why you’re an excellent candidate. With this in mind, your IT staffing companies would suggest that you do not include an objective on your resume.
Why would IT recruiting agencies tell you to leave an objective off your resume? Basically, an objective doesn’t accomplish the most important goal: showing technical recruiters and potential employers why you’d be an asset for them. Objectives tell IT staffing firms and hiring managers what you want in your next IT jobs. Your resume isn’t the place to do this. You can tell IT recruiters what you want in your next role when you speak to them (on the phone or in person). Essentially, every word of your objective is space you could be using to better entice hiring managers and IT recruiting companies.
So what do you write instead of an objective? Use that extra space in your resume to show off your professional achievements, technical skills and experience, and contributions that you’ve made at previous IT jobs. Make sure you’ve got all relevant technical skills listed at the beginning of your resume. Or put a few extra bullets below your most recent position to show how you brought value to your team. Maybe you consistently delivered or debugged code ahead of deadline. Perhaps you provided exemplary customer service to the end users you worked with. These are the kinds of things you want on your resume instead of objectives.
Especially in tech, hiring managers love to rely on hard data when they make decisions. Provide these hiring managers with some hard data about why you’re an excellent candidate by listing what you’ve done for your previous employers. IT staffing agencies and hiring managers will be able to easily picture you in the roles you want to be submitted for. Thus putting this info on your resume will do much more for you than any objective would!
Possibly the worst part of searching for new IT jobs is having to update your resume. Even when you’re working with IT recruiters, this is still a task that you’ll have to deal with. Here are 2 easy ways to make the process much less painful the next time your IT staffing firms ask for the most updated version of your resume.
- Take notes ahead of time. On a day when you have a little free time, create a document where you will keep notes about what you achieve in your current position. IT recruiting firms would suggest you think about achievements that cement your value to your managers, your team, end users and clients, etc. Add these items to your document as they occur. Even if you love your current job so much that you could never imagine working with IT staffing agencies to leave it for a new one, you should still do this. The reality is that most people do tend to work at more than one employer; thus you’ll probably actually need to job search again in the future. Taking notes on professional achievements and contributions at your current position now means that you’ll have better information and more details than if you just try to remember it later.
- Always keep your technical skills section up to date. Again, even if you aren’t even remotely close to contacting your technical recruiters to look for a new role, it’s worth taking a few minutes of free time one day to add new certifications, skills, programming languages, etc to your resume. If you don’t have time to add them to your resume in proper formatting, simply take notes on them along with your other notes about your current position. Updating your resume can be a stressful, overwhelming process. You wouldn’t want to forget a key programming language or certification as you rush to get an updated version of your resume to your IT recruiting agencies.
With these steps, whenever you are ready to update your resume for IT staffing companies, you’ll have all the information you need (together in one place, too). Updating your IT resume will take half the time and you can get on with your job search faster!
IT staffing agencies see a lot of confusion around the ‘Education’ section on resumes. Here are some answers to questions that IT recruiting firms often get from candidates about how to write this section of a resume when you’re searching for IT jobs.
- Where Do I Put the Education Section? The answer IT recruiters give here relies heavily on where you are in your career. If you’re working with IT staffing companies to find one of your first jobs, your education section can be at the top. This is because it’s your most significant experience. You haven’t had much professional experience yet, so the years you spent studying technologies or languages are going to matter most to potential employers. If you’re not a recent graduate, IT recruiting agencies would rather see your education as one of the last categories on your resume. Your professional experience will be far more significant to IT recruiters and hiring managers than your degrees.
- What Should I Do if I’m Still Finishing a Degree or Certification? In the tech field it’s especially common for people to be completing an online degree or certification as they work. IT staffing firms see a lot of candidates who return to school to brush up on technologies or learn new ones. If you’re in the middle of learning a new programming language or getting a new certification, don’t leave it off your resume. Your IT recruiters won’t know that you’re ready for new kinds of roles if you don’t add in these classes, programs, etc! Instead, list the degree, certification, etc (and where you’re getting it from). Give the date completed as ‘In progress.’
- How Do I Document it If I Went to More Than One College? This is a trend IT recruiting companies are seeing more and more as the cost of college rises. Plenty of IT professionals will get an AS from a less expensive school and complete their BA or BS in a better (and more expensive) name brand school. Technical recruiters won’t hold it against you if you just list the place you completed your degree in. In fact, it’s better to streamline your education section a bit by doing this. It doesn’t matter if you got your degree at 2 or more different universities. Especially in the tech field, your experience and skill-set tend to matter more than your education anyways. So save the space for the more important info and just list the final place you earned your degree (even if you didn’t start there!).
There are a lot of ways to prepare for your IT job interviews. You can role play answering important questions. You can study up on the technologies that your IT recruiters say you’ll be quizzed on. You can do research on the companies your technical recruiters send you to interview for. But here’s one thing that IT staffing firms find candidates often forget to do: bring a pen and notepad.
In a digital age, especially in the tech field, why would IT recruiting firms suggest you really need to bring a pen and notepad with you to interviews? There are 2 reasons: it helps show that you’re engaged and interested and it helps you write a killer thank you note after the interview. To start with the first reason, IT staffing agencies want you to take notes because it helps a manager see you as organized and engaged in your interview process. Perhaps more importantly, taking notes helps your interviewers picture you bringing these qualities to the IT jobs you’re interviewing for.
The second reason IT recruiting agencies want you to bring a pen and notepad to your interviews is to make sure you take down the information you’ll need to write an excellent thank you note. IT staffing companies see too many candidates underestimate the power of a great thank you note. You’ll want to bring a notepad and pen to write down details that you can use in your notes. You could jot down are reminder of important topics you discussed, perhaps a question you wanted to expound on a bit more, or maybe just something that you really liked about their team or corporate culture. Considering how long, stressful, and overwhelming a job interview can be (especially a technical one where you might whiteboard an answer, get quizzed on technical skills, etc) it’s a bad idea to assume you’ll remember these kinds of details. Bringing your notepad and pen lets you prep to write thank you notes that go beyond the generic ones that IT recruiting companies are too often given to pass on to interviewers. Why not take this chance to differentiate yourself?