LinkedIn is so widely used that it has essentially become necessary to join if you want to connect with IT recruiting companies and search for new IT jobs. If you’re not on LinkedIn, it will be much harder for IT staffing companies and potential employers to find you. (It also might suggest you don’t really embrace technology, which would obviously be a problem for IT professionals.) While there are plenty of LinkedIn tips for creating your profile, it’s also important to make sure your LinkedIn picture is done well. Here are some tips to taking a LinkedIn profile picture that will attract IT recruiters and potential employers.
Make sure the picture is clearly of you. IT staffing firms suggest you avoid using pictures of you and your family, friends, etc. Just use a picture that shows you. Your LinkedIn profile is meant to showcase your professional achievements and experience. Social pictures with your family or friends aren’t really relevant to this goal. Technical recruiters find that these kinds of pictures may even detract from the professionalism of your profile to certain, more conservative, employers.
Pick a picture where you’re dressed professionally. You don’t have to be in a full suit, but take a picture where you’re at least dressed in business casual clothing. Even if your goal is to work in a start-up environment where people wear a t-shirt and jeans to work, use a picture of you wearing at least business casual clothing. Think of a LinkedIn picture as similar to how you present yourself at a job interview. Your IT recruiting firms will always tell you to go to a job interview wearing at least business casual clothing, if not a suit. You should do the same in your LinkedIn profile picture.
Pay attention to what kind of picture it is. Don’t use an artsy shot or a full body shot. Aim for something that’s closer to a headshot. Again, think of your LinkedIn picture as similar to the impression you give in a job interview. Taking a picture from far away, at an odd angle, or with a special filter doesn’t help you present yourself in a straight-forward, professional way.
If you’re thinking about looking for new IT jobs, fall is one of the best times to ramp up your search. Here’s why IT recruiting firms find that the employers have more open jobs and hire faster in the fall.
The key decision makers, the people who work closest with IT staffing companies to hire, are often in the office and available most consistently in the early fall months. This is for a few reasons. For one thing, there are fewer major holidays in September and October. IT recruiting companies also find that people tend to be just returning from bigger summer vacations in the early fall months. They’re also usually saving the rest of their vacation time for the winter and late fall holidays.
Another reason that IT staffing firms find that hiring moves faster in the fall is that they want to get new hires in the door and trained before the late fall and winter holidays occur. No employer wants to start a new hire when their managers and coworkers, who are crucial to training, will likely be out often or less available.
The last reason IT recruiters suggest you ramp up your job search now is because it’s always a good time to be searching for a new IT job. The tech field is constantly a job seeker’s market. Technical recruiters find that there are far more open positions than there are qualified IT professionals to fill them. You can tell this is true because the national unemployment rate for Java Developers, Sys Admins, etc is always so low. While the national unemployment rate for all professions last year was at around 5.7%, for the tech field it was much closer to 2.6%. These numbers mean if you’re a Project Manager, Business Analyst, .Net Developer, etc, you have a great chance of finding an IT job you’re excited about. It’s just up to you to reach out to your trusted IT recruiting agencies and get your search going!
IT recruiters sometimes see candidates make mistakes that are really easy to avoid in their search for IT jobs. One area IT recruiting agencies see candidates make small, avoidable mistakes is with their email. Here are a few things not to do when you’re working with IT staffing agencies to find your next role.
Don’t use an email address that is obscene or unprofessional. When you are meeting technical recruiters and potential employers, all you have to represent yourself is your resume, your calls or meetings with them, and your emails with them. This means how you present yourself in these limited instances is all the more important for landing a great role. If you have an email address that’s not professional or is offensive or obscene, it’s worth creating a new one to use just for your job search. You don’t want to lose out on job opportunities simply because your email address offended an employer or IT recruiter—especially when a new, professional email address would be free and quick to create.
Don’t use somebody else’s email address or have somebody else email your materials on your behalf. Especially if an email address is clearly not yours or is clearly a joint email address, it looks far, far less professional to IT recruiting companies and possible employers. Again, email addresses are free and quick to set up. It doesn’t say that you’re taking your job search seriously if you can’t take the time to set up your own, personal, professional email account to use for your IT job search. It also says that you’re not a serious candidate who understands professional norms when you rely on somebody else to send your materials to employers or IT staffing firms.
Don’t use your college email address after you graduate (unless you went to a prestigious or Ivy League school). This could directly damage how potential employers or IT staffing companies see you. Particularly when you’re no longer a recent graduate of your school, it’s time to distance yourself from your college or university a bit. You want to present yourself as professional with experience in the working world. Having a college email address leads people to assume that you might still be a student—or weren’t one too long ago. Even if neither is true, this again suggests you are aren’t detail-oriented and/or taking your job search seriously. Take the five minutes to create a new, professional email address. It will be well worth it when you land a great new IT job! (Note that Ivy League graduates are usually the exception to this rule. People who wen to an Ivy League school will often continue to use their college or university email address long into their careers.)
Sometimes IT recruiters will find that candidates are completely prepared for interviews and phone screens but there is one obstacle that makes it hard for them to land IT jobs: they can’t figure out how to schedule them. IT staffing companies find that sometimes candidates think they think they can’t take time from their workday for a phone screen or take time off for the job interviews. For most people in the tech field, though, this simply isn’t true. Here’s why IT recruiting companies suggest that you rethink this if you have a hard time scheduling a phone or in-person interview during business hours.
1. Sometimes candidates think that since technical recruiters are available to talk before work or after-hours, this means that employers will be, too. The truth is that IT staffing agencies very often work around the clock to fill IT jobs. Employers, however, usually don’t. Most employers will fit a phone or in-person interview into the work day. (Some will stay late or meet with candidates before the workday, but they are often in the minority.) If you can’t step away to take a phone interview during business hours, or if you aren’t willing to take a day or part of a day off work for a job interview, you will miss all opportunities to interview. IT recruiting firms find that other candidates usually are willing to do take time for their job search. This means employers will interview and hire them instead of you.
2. On a similar note, it’s important to understand how it looks to employers when you refuse to interview during normal business hours. There are two very bad messages you might send to potential new employers when you try to insist they meet you outside of business hours. Firstly, IT recruiting agencies find that when you demand this kind of scheduling, you can wind up looking like you don’t understand professional norms and are unprofessional. As mentioned above, doing interviews or phone interviews during the work day is pretty normal. True professionals know how to gracefully and discreetly accommodate interview requests into their normal schedule. Secondly, if you insist that employers interview you outside of normal business hours, you’re also possibly suggesting you’re a difficult person to work with. No matter how technically adept you are, this will really hurt your candidacy. More and more, IT recruiters find that having great communication skills and being pleasant to work with are important in IT jobs. This is due to many factors, including the fact that tech departments now work with end users, clients, and other departments more than they used to. So be flexible about scheduling your interview—it just might help land you the job.
3. Lastly, taking time away from work for your job search is a normal, acceptable activity if done with discretion. Sometimes candidates think they’re doing something wrong or disloyal if they take time away from their job to do an interview. This simply isn’t true. You certainly don’t want to make it obvious to your current employer that you’re looking for a new job. However, most decent employers know that people do job search. If you are taking time off from your job it’s either sick/vacation time that you’ve earned. It’s your time. You are allowed to do what you want with it—including going to the interviews your IT staffing firms set up for you. It’s also worth noting that the technical recruiters you work with and the employers you interview with will also be discreet. They will not bring it to your current employers’ attention that you’re job searching. Unless you are indiscreet about it, going on interviews doesn’t carry much risk of alerting your employer that you’re considering leaving.
Sometimes when you’re working with IT recruiting companies to find new IT jobs, you’ll be asked to do a background check. Since candidates often have a lot of questions about these items, here are some common questions IT staffing agencies tend to get about background checks.
1. Why do I need to do these? Your IT recruiters are usually telling you they need to do background checks for a couple reasons. Firstly, because the field requires it or it’s required by law for this particular kind of job. Since tech is so involved in the security field, technical recruiters are working on more and more jobs now that require background checks. Fields like education and healthcare also tend to require certain background checks, whether you’re working directly with patients, students, etc or not. Secondly, some companies have been burned before by lawsuits or other issues. In order to protect themselves from future harm, they may require new hires to pass certain background checks. The last thing to consider here is that a background check is done at the (sometimes expensive) cost of the IT recruiting firms or employer. Thus it isn’t something taken lightly or just thrown into the process for no reason. It’s an absolute necessity that cannot be avoided. So when your IT recruiters tell you that you’ll need to pass a background check (or background checks) you can trust that this isn’t done out of anything other than necessity.
2. What kinds of background checks are done? There are a few kinds of background checks that IT staffing firms have to do. The most common are education or employment verification checks, drug testing, or criminal background checks. Credit checks are done pretty rarely and drug testing is also becoming a rarer necessity. Depending on the employer, you may be asked to do only one check or a combination of them.
3. Will I have to pay for these checks? You should never pay for these checks if you’re working with good, reputable IT staffing companies. If you’re working with IT recruiting firms that tell you to pay the cost, you may want to check to see if they are running a scam.
4. What can I do if I have a reason that I’m unsure I’ll pass a background check? IT recruiting firms sometimes work with candidates who have legitimate reasons why they think they won’t pass a check (but they’re still good fits for the job). Perhaps somebody made a mistake in the past or has a medication that will muddy a drug test. Be open with your IT recruiting agencies. Talk to them about your concerns and see what can be done. Often if you present something reasonable, your technical recruiters can lobby on your behalf. This is one of the advantages of working with IT recruiters to find a job—employers trust them and listen to what they say about a candidate.
When you’re searching for new IT jobs, the most powerful tool you have is your resume. Even the best IT recruiting firms can’t land you a job if your resume is terrible. Here’s one mistake that can really ruin a good resume: a poorly handled gap between jobs.
Having a gap between jobs isn’t the end of the world. IT staffing companies come across a fair share of candidates who might have a gap somewhere in their career. The problem occurs when you either don’t provide any explanation at all, you lie to cover it up, or you give too much detail. Here’s how to avoid these pitfalls when you write a resume.
1. Too Little Info: Technical recruiters find that some candidates really do just leave a gap on their resume completely unexplained. Especially if this gap is more than a few months, you’ll raise red flags with IT recruiters and potential employers. While it might seem like listing the gap and giving an explanation brings too much attention to it, it’s actually the opposite. Not listing the gap at all brings far more attention—negative attention. Simply list a gap that’s over a month in the same format as a job. Give a one-sentence explanation of what occurred. It’s perfectly fine to say you moved, took time to care for a sick family member, took time for maternity or paternity leave, etc. If you were unemployed, list relevant courses or volunteering you did during your gap.
2. Too much Info: On the opposite end of spectrum, IT staffing firms suggest that you don’t list extensive details about what you did during your gap. It will almost certainly look unprofessional if you can’t sum up this time in a sentence or two at most. Sometimes IT recruiting agencies see people marking out employment gaps for childcare or some other kind of caretaking as though it were a job. They might list coordinating doctors’ appointments, managing medications, etc as ‘job duties’. Don’t do this. This always comes across as tone deaf and makes employers and IT staffing agencies uncomfortable. Even though you may feel that what you did has created applicable experience to the roles you want, you’ll be violating professional norms.
3. Inaccurate Info: Never lie to cover a large employment gap. Sometimes IT recruiters find that candidates will make up a job, extend the dates of a job beyond when they were really there, or do other dishonest things. Even if your technical recruiters don’t find the lie here, employers may find it. Lying on your resume is the quickest way to lose a job. Even if you do land the job, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media are making the world a very small place. You don’t want somebody to find out through the digital grapevine that you lied on your resume. You may get fired for it!
More and more, IT recruiters are finding that piercings and tattoos are something candidates need to consider as they interview for new IT jobs. According to some studies the number of Americans with tattoos has reached around 14%, or around 45 million people. Tattoos are becoming more prevalent among younger generations, especially workers under 40. All of these numbers mean that IT staffing firms definitely work with– and will work with– IT professionals who will be interviewing with a tattoo or piercings. If you’re working with IT recruiting agencies to find your next IT role, here are some tips for how to deal with your tattoos or piercings.
1. Start by letting your technical recruiters know if you have visible tattoos or unconventional piercings that are visible. For instance, if you have a tattoo on your shoulder, it’s probably not an issue. If you have one on your hand, wrist, neck, etc, this is worth discussing with your IT staffing companies. They will be able to advise you if you need to cover up, take the piercing out for the day, or if the employer wouldn’t mind either way.
2. If the interview goes well, stop and consider what the long term requirements will be for the job. If you have a visible tattoo and your IT recruiting companies advise you that you’ll have to cover it every day if you get a job offer, don’t ignore the advice. There are some industries where, even after you land the job, the workplace is just more conservative. Finance, for instance, usually frowns upon dress that is anything but very conventional.
It’s also important to remember that some roles require you to hide tattoos or piercings more than others might. If you’re providing face-to-face service to end users, meeting with important clients, or meeting with high-level staff, it will be all the more important for you to be able and willing to hide a tattoo. If you are working at a young start-up where you are left to complete your work on your own schedule, hiding a piercing or tattoo is obviously less imperative.
3. Take the company’s attitude towards tattoos or piercings as a little more data about what their corporate culture is like. If they frown upon tattoos and you love them (and perhaps want more), this job may not be a fit for you. Again, consult with your IT staffing agencies on this. They may be able to tell you more about this. Good IT recruiters want to place you in a job you’ll like and be able to succeed in. So be honest with them about this topic.
IT recruiters notice that most candidates who are skilled at job interviews tend to have a few things in common. One thing IT staffing companies notice good interviewers do is highlight key qualities about themselves. Here’s one key quality IT recruiting companies suggest you highlight in a job interview: that you’re reliable and will stick around for your whole contract (or at least a few years if it’s a permanent role).
Why is it necessary for you to make this obvious to your interviewers? Wouldn’t they assume that you won’t leave before a contract ends or in a particularly short time? In the tech field, the truth is that this isn’t a given. IT recruiting agencies find that far too often, companies hire candidates who will leave a job early to pursue other opportunities, move, etc. While this is certainly a problem in other industries, IT staffing firms find this kind of behavior is especially hard on companies in the tech field. Often employers are trying to complete projects by certain deadlines. Unexpectedly losing a member of their team makes it hard to do this. There’s also often a fair amount of training that goes into getting IT professionals up to speed to work on a project. So when they leave before it’s done, this makes it even harder to replace them with somebody fast enough. Basically, IT recruiting firms find that employers trying to fill IT jobs are (usually justly) worried that the people they hire will not be reliable and stick around a decent amount of time— thus costing them time, money, and causing a great deal of stress.
Taking this employer perspective into consideration as you interview can really make you stand out as a candidate. When you go into job interviews, take some time to demonstrate that you are ready to stick around until your contract is done, or at least a few years if the job is permanent. Take a minute to show how you’ve been reliable for past employers to really drive this point home. Showing your interviewer that you are capable of being reliable and sticking around will go far in building your candidacy. Even if they don’t ask about this topic, technical recruiters would highly suggest you make sure to drive this point home for your interviewer. It will make you stand out as an excellent candidate.
When you’re working with IT recruiting agencies to fill your open IT jobs, there are two major components to consider: evaluating candidates to make sure they’re the best fit for the job and making sure you sell your team and corporate culture to the best candidates. Of course, IT recruiting firms will help you achieve both of these components, but there are some things that your company must do—IT staffing agencies can’t do these things for you. Here are 2 things your company will need to do help attract the best candidates.
1. Pay attention to your online reputation. 5-10 years ago, companies didn’t have to worry about sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Google. Today, these sites are often the first place job seekers go for research after technical recruiters call them about a job. It’s important to check and even manage your presence on these sites. Getting bad reviews can happen to any company, no matter how good they are to employees. Disgruntled employees or trolls can leave a surprise scathing review on your listing on major sites. It’s important to try to respond to these reviews if you have grounds to. Depending on the content, you may also want to seriously consider the reviewer’s feedback if it seems useful.
2. Communicate with your IT staffing companies about your online reputation. It will also help you attract better candidates if you let the IT staffing firms you’re working with know ahead of time about bad reviews. Especially if there’s a good response to these reviews, your IT recruiting companies can pass this information on to candidates if they ask about it. (Candidates will often bring up concerns about a potential employer with the IT recruiters they work with in a more candid way than they would with an interviewer.) If you have great reviews online, make sure you point these out to the recruiters you’re working with. These are a strong tool for IT recruiters to use in selling your open jobs to great candidates.
IT recruiters find that even when employers are experienced at interviewing to fill IT jobs, they may still wind up mistakenly asking illegal questions. In fact, a recent study shows that 1 in 5 employers asks illegal questions when they’re interviewing. While asking these questions doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get sued, IT staffing agencies would strongly suggest you take time to make sure your interviewers are fully versed on what they can and can’t legally ask. It may save you a great deal of trouble (and money) in the future. Here are some basic guidelines IT recruiting firms would suggest you follow in formulating your questions.
1. Don’t ask about their family structure. Asking whether a candidate is married, has children, expecting, etc may lead you into muddy waters. Often interviewers aren’t asking these kinds of questions with bad intentions. However, IT recruiters would suggest you choose other topics for friendly chit chat instead.
2. Don’t ask about their religion, gender, or sexual orientation. These are some of the most important areas IT staffing firms would suggest you avoid. Even if you’re just trying to make a connection with the candidate, these areas are the most dangerous in terms of potential lawsuits.
3. Don’t ask if English is a candidate’s first language or if they’re a US citizen. The IT recruiting agencies your company works with will be able to let you know if a candidate needs sponsorship or is authorized to work in the US. Let your IT staffing companies protect you here—let them look into this information for you.