Working with IT recruiters doesn’t guarantee you a job that will be a great fit. Sometimes bad technical recruiters will place you in a job with a work environment you hate or with a workload you can’t handle. Here’s how to make sure you work with IT staffing firms that will help you land a role you can succeed in and enjoy.
If an IT recruiter contacts you first, really look at their messages. Do you they speak English well and write in a professional manner? Are they offering a job that makes sense for your skill-set? If the messages are confusing or suggest a role that is obviously not a fit for you, you can probably reply ‘no thanks.’
If the message does interest you and seems worth considering, look up the recruiters who contact you and the IT recruiting companies they come from. If they have bad reviews, or worse yet, no online presence, you may want to skip working with them. Legitimate IT recruiting firms have their own website and decent reviews. They probably also have a LinkedIn page and at least some social media presence. In terms of reviews, you can take everything with a grain of salt. If they have only a couple of bad reviews mixed in with a lot of good ones, they’re probably worth talking to. If IT staffing agencies have a ton of bad reviews, that’s a bad sign. Don’t be a target for an IT recruiting scam or work with an IT staffing agency that doesn’t care what you need to succeed in a role.
If your technical recruiters seem legitimate, have an open, candid conversation with them about what you want. They should care about more than just your technical skills and experience. If you have scheduling needs, are looking to avoid a long commute, or need a particular kind of work environment to succeed, they should care about this. Good IT recruiters want to place you in a job that is as compatible with your life and work style as possible. This is because happy employees are productive, successful employees. You can’t do your best work if the corporate culture of a company is suffocating to you or you’re exhausted from a marathon commute!
One of the worst reasons to be rejected for IT jobs is because you showed up late to the interview. After all the prepping you did, all the studying and time spent editing your portfolio, you don’t want to blow an interview just because you didn’t leave early enough. Here are a few reasons why IT staffing companies find that people are late.
You didn’t leave enough time for security checks. IT recruiting companies do find that candidates will sometimes have to go through security checks before interviews. These may not take long, but if you’ve planned on arriving just in time (which you probably should not) then a surprise security check will make you late. To avoid this issue, try asking your IT recruiters before the interview if they anticipate any security checks. If they say yes, ask for an estimate of how much time you should build in for it. If your technical recruiters aren’t sure about this (which is unlikely) build in an extra 15 minutes for yourself. If you’re more than 10 minutes early when you arrive, you can go take a walk, grab coffee, or simply wait in your car.
You didn’t leave enough time for traffic. IT recruiting firms usually recommend that you leave enough time for yourself to get to your interview, even if there is severe traffic. You never know when there may be an accident or construction on your route. Even if you’re leaving outside of rush hours, there’s still a risk of something slowing down your trip and making you late to the interview. Give yourself a buffer of time that’s generous enough to handle the most severe traffic and still get you to the interview 5-10 minutes early. As mentioned before, if you arrive too early, no problem. Simply find a way to wait so that you’re out of your interviewer’s hair.
You replied on public transportation—and it took longer than you expected. As anybody who rides public transportation knows, there are a lot of factors that can make a trip take longer than you anticipated. Even if you go by the estimate on a public transportation website, you may still wind up late to an interview. Truthfully, most IT staffing companies suggest that you take a taxi, Uber, or get a ride to an interview. It will likely be much faster and more reliable for this kind of situation (where lateness is so problematic). If you do decide to use public transportation, give yourself a large buffer of time. Consider practicing the trip if you can, as well. If you can’t, make sure you’re familiar with the buses or trains you’ll be taking and buy your ticket in advance online if possible. Remember that if you need to take a few minutes to find the correct train, that could be the few minutes you’re late by!
If you’re looking for new IT jobs, your first step should be to update your resume for IT recruiters and employers. As an IT professional, your resume will be a bit different from resumes in other industries. Here are some key elements of IT resumes.
The technical skills section. This is one of the most important features of a resume for IT staffing companies. It helps them decide quickly if you have the skills to be a possible fit for an open job. Make sure to put this section right at the top of your resume and keep it thorough, organized, and updated. The best technical skills section is a snapshot of the technologies and skills you’ll be talking about in your employment history below. It’s important to make sure you only add skills to this section that you are 100% confident you actually have. Technical interviews will often quickly reveal it if you lack something you’ve mentioned in the technical skills section. If an interviewer finds you ‘fudged it’ and included something you can’t actually back up, you won’t get the job (and your technical recruiters probably won’t want to work with you anymore, either).
You have more leeway to go beyond 1 page. IT recruiting companies find that employers in the tech field are a bit more lenient with the length of resumes. While you don’t want to write a novel, if you have a great arsenal of technical skills and experience, it’s ok if you need a bit of extra room to elaborate. Technical resumes have some extra sections (like the one mentioned above).Another reason you can write a longer technical resume is that hiring managers do want to see details about the projects you’ve worked on. IT staffing agencies find that when you give better detail on the technical projects you’ve done, employers have an easier time picturing you performing the role they’re hiring for.
Contract work is more accepted and more common. Many IT professionals use contracting as a legitimate way to gain skills and exposure to new technologies. Since technology is always changing so quickly, it can become necessary to move faster from company to company to get exposure to new technologies at a more compatible rate. Contracting is also just a more common way for managers to hire in the tech field. IT recruiting firms find that sometimes employers only need contractors to finish a particular project. Perhaps a company can’t afford to hire somebody with a rare skill-set permanently. Just make sure to mark when a position is contract on your resume, so people know you didn’t leave early or were fired.
If you’re seeking a new role in an area of the tech field you don’t have much experience in, there are ways to make you a more appealing candidate to IT recruiters anyway. Whether you’re looking to land your first Helpdesk role, or you want to move from Desktop support to a Network Engineer role, here are 3 ways to beef up your application materials and impress technical recruiters.
1. Seek out opportunities within your current employer to get hands-on learning experience relevant to the IT jobs you want to work in. You might be able to do this in your current company in 2 ways. Firstly, your bosses may allow you to get some hands-on experience in a formal way (like a side project for a different department). This is probably the most preferable. If you do well, you can demonstrate that you met the expectations of a manager in this area. If your company can’t help you out with any formal learning opportunities, you might still be able to informally shadow the people who hold the roles you’d like to hold one day. While this isn’t something you can put on a resume, it will help you to better direct your own study of relevant skills and technologies.
2. Seek out opportunities outside your current employer to get relevant hands-on learning. You can volunteer, take freelance jobs, or perhaps create your own project on your own time. IT recruiting firms have an easier time placing somebody who can point to demonstrable experience, even if the candidate made that experience happen. Consider offering your services for free or reduced charge to local nonprofits, checking websites with volunteer opportunities, or reaching out to people within your network to seek out hands-on learning opportunities for the skills and technologies you’re interested. If you’re learning how to code, create your own website, etc. Having a portfolio of examples of your work will certainly make you more marketable to IT staffing companies.
3. Consider getting a certification if there are any relevant ones. Employers generally put a lot of trust in certifications, so these can be a great way to help IT recruiting agencies visualize you in the roles you want. IT recruiting companies always find that that candidates with certifications can get at least a bit of an edge over those who don’t have them. Certifications can also be a way to gain more hands-on experience with technologies or skills. (Some certifications actually require hands-on experience.)
If you’re a job seeker, you’ve probably been contacted by or come across fake recruiter scams before. Scammers will often find your information on job boards or LinkedIn. When you’re looking for IT jobs, you don’t have to be vulnerable to these scammers, though. Here are 3 tips for how to weed out fake IT staffing companies from the scammers.
1. Google them. Real IT staffing agencies always have a website and usually a social media presence. They often have online reviews, as well. It’s also often a red flag if the IT recruiters who contact you are using an email address that seems more like a personal one than business. (For instance, at AVID, our technical recruiters all have email addresses that end in avidtr.com, rather than gmail.com or Hotmail.com.)
2. Think twice if they ask you to pay for background checks, drug testing, or CORI’s. Most reputable IT recruiting firms will never ask you to pay for these. It’s a cost of doing business for the IT recruiting firm. Fake recruiters will often ask you to pay for these tests as a way to steal your money. There usually isn’t a real job or background check—just somebody making money off of your vulnerability as a job seeker.
3. Don’t trust a job offer that comes too easily. Especially in tech, it’s important to hire people with the right skills and experience. This means that you’ll rarely land a job without at least doing a phone interview and in-person interview. If IT recruiting agencies contact you with a job offer and no need to do any interviewing to be hired, that’s a huge red flag. An employer needs to do more than simply glance at your resume or LinkedIn profile to determine what your technical skills are like. Real IT jobs require real technical interviews. If IT staffing companies say you don’t need to do any, they’re probably scamming you.
Many IT professionals are resistant to contracting. However, when you’re looking for new roles, IT recruiters would strongly suggest that you consider contracting roles. Especially in the tech field, contracting can have a lot of benefits that permanent roles don’t. Here are 3 reasons why IT staffing firms suggest you seriously consider contracting in your next role.
1. You can expand your technical skills and experience. Contracting means moving around more, but it also means getting exposed to new technologies and skills as you move. As opposed to a permanent job that you may spend years at, contacting lets you move on to work with new software, programming languages, etc, sooner. This translates to faster growth in your career and a resume that is more enticing to employers and IT recruiting companies.
2. You might make more money. IT staffing companies often find their contractors have a higher income when they can go on their partners’ benefits. The biggest differences between contracting and permanent roles are usually the benefits (most contracting roles don’t provide benefits). However, this isn’t actually much of a problem for some people. If you have a spouse or long term domestic partner, you can often get benefits through their job. (It’s worth noting that the cost per partner may actually be cheaper this way.) Most contracting jobs pay more money to help you buy benefits completely on your own (often expensive). You’ll be making more money, but spending less of it on healthcare, dental etc. Thus you’ll find yourself with a fatter paycheck.
3. You can get hired faster. IT recruiting firms find that the hiring process for contractors is often less time-consuming and stringent. If you need to move on from your current role quickly, contracting is a better way to do this. Perhaps you need to move to a new area of the country, your current role is at a toxic workplace, or you need to make more money soon. Being open to contracting will help you land IT jobs much faster to solve these problems.
Help Desk jobs are slated to be one of the most common jobs that IT recruiters will be filling this year. IT staffing firms will get a lot of Help Desk roles to fill for two reasons. Firstly, there’s plenty of turnover in the field (often because of people moving up into new phases of their career). Secondly, every company these days needs Tech Support. (This will be especially true this year as the economy continues to recover from the past recession and companies grow larger.) With IT recruiting companies expecting to have so many Help Desk job openings this year, this makes people with the right skills and experience in demand. However, this is still a competitive market. IT recruiters find that if any section of the tech field is competitive for job seekers, it’s Help Desk. Here’s the best way to make sure you’re ready to land the Help Desk job you want this year: Get your CompTIA A+ certification. While some say the certification isn’t worth it, here are 3 reasons technical recruiters would strongly suggest you get.
1. Employers trust this certification. IT staffing agencies find that employers will always choose to interview or hire the candidate with the CompTIA A+ certification over the ones who don’t. This certification is comprehensive (covering important topics like installation, preventative maintenance, networking, security and troubleshooting), vetted, and has been around long enough that it’s recognized and respected by pretty much all employers. It’s also internationally accepted, which says something about how well-regarded it is.
2. You differentiate yourself in a competitive field. Since the Help Desk market for job seekers is largely entry level, there are more people who claim to have the skills and experience necessary for these jobs than something higher level (like Data Scientist jobs). If you get this certification, you definitely set yourself apart in a section of the tech job market that it’s hard to stand out in. Though the certification may be getting more common on resumes, it still provides a strong competitive edge. Employers will always prefer to have the candidate who comes having already learned the skills they need, rather than one that who might have to learn them on the job. This can be especially imperative in a role like Help Desk, where end users expect speedy, competent service. Having a CompTIA A+ certification guarantees employers you already have a good base of skills.
3. You’ll get paid more. When you do land jobs, employers always pay more for CompTIA A+ certified candidates. While it costs money to get the certification, it’s well worth it in the gains you’ll make your salary immediately and in the future. Even if you’re not searching for a new job, your current employer will likely give you a raise if you get this certification. They may even help you pay for the process of obtaining it!
Candidates often try to analyze interviews for good or bad signs. This is a pretty natural thing to do, especially if you’re interested in the IT jobs you’ve interviewed for. While there are some things that might indicate that your interviewer liked you, you can never assume you got the job based on any particular signs. Unless your technical recruiters call you with a job offer, there are no ‘signs’ that will definitively indicate that you landed the job.
Taking that into account, there are signs an interview went well. This is worth knowing whether you landed the job or not. If you know you did well in an interview, you can continue performing well in other interviews. Here are three things that IT staffing companies find usually indicate a job interview went well (though not that you definitely landed the job).
1. Your interviewer discusses next steps with you in a non-generic way. This means hearing more than the usual ‘we’ll be in touch with your IT recruiter soon’. While interviewers will often discuss the nitty gritty of the process with your IT recruiting firms, they may share their timeline so you don’t take another offer before it’s done. Things move fast in the tech field and good candidates are often interviewing for multiple opportunities at once. If an employer likes you, they will often share info about next steps with you so they mitigate their risk of losing you to another job offer.
2. Your interview feels more like an interesting technical discussion. Great technical interviews can sometimes be less of a back and forth than just a good conversation about technologies that are relevant to the position. If you find the interviewer seems engaged and you’re both really delving into technical scenarios, hypotheticals, or problems, you may have just had a good interview.
3. Your interviewer is trying to sell you on the work you’ll do in the position, their team, or the company. Because the tech field is such a job seeker’s market, interviewers will often start selling the opportunity if they like the candidate. As mentioned before, good candidates are usually pursuing several opportunities at once. Keeping this in mind, if employers like a candidate they’ll often try to highlight things like the interesting projects their team handles, office perks, or the exciting new technologies they put at employees’ disposal.
Is one of your new year’s resolutions to invest in your career with a new certification? The most valuable one to get in 2017 will be an AWS certification. Here are a few reasons why IT recruiters suggest you consider going after one this year.
1. You’ll make more money. AWS certified professionals often make around $100,000 a year or more. AWS certifications consistently topped income-oriented lists last year and there’s no reason they’ll fall this year. There are still far too few AWS certified tech professionals out there for the number of open IT jobs that require it. Even if you’re not looking for a new job, IT staffing companies find that many employers are happy to give raises or promotions to staff that get AWS certifications. Since the process for getting AWS certifications is so rigorous, employees nearly always become more valuable to their companies after attaining them.
2. You want to work remotely. IT recruiting firms find that many of the jobs that require AWS certifications also allow for partial or complete remote work. This is true for a few reasons. Firstly (and most obviously) cloud technology makes it easy to do this kind of work remotely. Secondly, as mentioned before, AWS certified professionals are rare. This means that employers need to woo them with excellent perks, which of course includes options for remote work.
3. An AWS certification opens doors in many industries. More and more companies are going to the cloud for their storage needs. No matter what industry you’d like to work in, there are probably companies that use cloud technologies and are seeking IT professionals with AWS certifications.
4. You want to invest in your future. An AWS certification will continue to be valuable for many years to come. The cloud will only become more popular and AWS seems to be the reigning provider. The only certification that seems somewhat comparable is Azure (and for many reasons, some people argue that this certification is less valuable on a resume). Amazon is dominating the web services market with a constant stream of new products and competitive pricing. If you get an AWS certification now, IT staffing agencies will likely have no problem finding you IT jobs for years to come.