It’s only late February, but if you’re a college senior or finishing up your grad school program, you can get going on your search for your first (or next) IT jobs right now. If you take the right steps, you can land yourself a job to start after graduation. Here’s what IT recruiters would suggest you do now.
1. Create (or polish, if you’ve already started) your resume. This is the first and most important step. You can’t do anything else until you have a resume to give to hiring managers and technical recruiters. IT staffing firms suggest you do 2 things in particular to create a strong resume for a recent grad. Firstly, you typically want to put your education section at the top. You can keep your GPA in there if it’s high enough for up to 3 years past graduation. (How do you know your GPA is high enough? Put it on there if it’s anywhere between 2.8 and 4.0. However, it’s worth noting that anything lower than 3.0 may put off companies that are particularly picky).
The second thing to make sure you do on a recent grad resume is to create a strong, thorough ‘Technical Proficiencies’ section. Then detail out in the bullets under your experience how you used the technologies you gave in that Technical Proficiencies section. If you don’t have much professional experience yet, detail out how you’ve used the technologies in your Technical Proficiencies section in bullets under projects or internships you’ve done for school. Employers need to be able to see how you’ve used a technology, not just that you claim you’ve learned it.
2. Build your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have one yet, you need one now. Most recent grads don’t think they need a LinkedIn profile until after they land their first job, but this is a rookie mistake. Take the time to build yourself a profile, because especially in the tech field, there are plenty of hiring managers that won’t hire a candidate who doesn’t have one. IT recruiting agencies suggest that you build a profile that isn’t too long or detailed. Your resume should be elaborate and give deep technical detail on your experience. Your LinkedIn profile should give a rough outline of your experience and skills. That’s it!
3. Reach out to your local IT recruiting firms. The time to build relationships with recruiters is now. Plenty of companies are already working with IT staffing agencies to start the process of hiring May graduates. In fact, some of the best jobs are going to be less available as the Spring goes on. You’ll actually give yourself an advantage to land some of the best-paying IT jobs at the coolest employers if you start searching now (rather than after graduation).
4. Start networking. Go to networking events in the cities you’d like to live in. Start reaching out to people you have connections to in the tech field. Let your family and friends know that you’re ready to start your job hunt. You never know who might have great connections and the ability to open the right doors. Now is the time to let everyone know you’d accept help in your job search!
Hunting for new IT jobs means you’ll find yourself submitting some of the same information over and over again. Between interactions with hiring managers, IT recruiters, and interviewers, you may be answering the same question repeatedly. Some of this repetition is necessary, though. This is particularly true within your job search materials. Below are the similarities and differences between these three items. Knowing them can help you create better job search materials—and will probably help you land the tech jobs you want. Here are some tips from IT staffing agencies for your resume, your LinkedIn profile and your job application.
Your LinkedIn Profile – This is the most recent addition to the job search process, but it doesn’t mean it’s optional. Especially in the tech field, not having a LinkedIn profile will be deeply detrimental to your job search. Technical recruiters find that some hiring managers will even automatically reject a candidate for having no LinkedIn profile. As you write your LinkedIn profile, keep a few things in mind. Firstly, condense your profile. Your LinkedIn profile is meant to be an abbreviated version of your resume. Since most tech resumes can be a few pages (or more) it’s all the more important for IT professionals to abide by this rule. Secondly, your LinkedIn profile should include 2 or 3 bullets (more if you have fewer jobs to list) that discuss what you did at each job. Some recruiters find that candidates will simply give a job title or a description of what the company does. This is not enough. Leave the description of the company off your profile (hiring managers can look up what the company does). Give enough information for a hiring manager or recruiter to understand your technical experience on a basic level.
Your Resume – Your resume is arguably the most important part of your IT job search, so don’t be haphazard about it. The best case scenario is that you constantly update your resume, even when you’re not job searching. If you pick up a new technology or language, add it. If you achieve something important at your current job, add it to your resume. Then, when you’re ready to search for a new job, all you’ll need to do is polish it up.
When you are ready to polish up your resume, there are 2 important things to pay attention to. First, the length. Resumes are different from LinkedIn profiles because they’re usually much longer. Tech professionals are not held to the 1 page (or 2 pages for more experienced professionals) resume rule that most fields are. Brevity takes a back seat to making sure you give adequate descriptions of how you used the technologies you specialize in. It’s not enough to list the technologies in your ‘Technical Proficiencies’ section at the top of your resume. You need to include demonstrations of the work you used these technologies for within the bullet points. While you only give 2 or 3 bullets in your LinkedIn profile under each job, you want to give at least double that on your resume. (And don’t waste these bullets with descriptions of what the company does because again, hiring managers can look this up themselves).
The second thing to pay attention to when building your resume is to make sure it is similar to your LinkedIn profile when it comes to dates and employers. There should be no discrepancies on the basic history of your career. If there are, hiring managers will likely reject you immediately. Being trustworthy is imperative, no matter how many advanced programming languages you’re an expert at.
Your Job Application – This is the part of the job search process that candidates find the most repetitive. You can often skip it when you’re applying with IT staffing companies for contracting positions. When you’re applying for direct hire and permanent jobs, though, you’ll often have to complete a job application in addition to submitting a resume. This is usually necessary for HR departments and their own hiring processes. The good news is, more and more frequently, you’re allowed to parse your resume into job applications. The most important thing to note with job applications is that your dates and employment history must line up with your LinkedIn profile and resume. As noted above, a discrepancy will make you look untrustworthy to employers and potentially result in rejection. Be patient, fill out the job application accurately, and check it over before you submit it. Landing a job you love in the end will be worth it.
The goal of the hiring process is timeless, but there are definitely trends that come and go for interviewing and evaluating applicants. One of the more recent trends was the creative, Google-style question which seemed to cross between whimsy and the hardest brain teaser you’ve ever heard. Another trend (that should certainly die, but hasn’t yet) is the ‘Stress Interview’, in which an interviewer deliberately upsets a candidate to see their true colors. Right now, IT staffing firms see a big trend in the tech field: a huge boom in contract – to permanent job openings. Why is contract-to-perm so popular in tech, especially now? Here are 3 reasons.
- Firstly, contract-to perm allows employers to staff quickly for projects so nothing gets slowed down. Permanent hiring is a much more complicated process for employers because of legal requirements as well as the cost and labor for onboarding new employees. It’s much easier for employers to get funding approved to hiring a contractor for the duration of a project than funding for a perm employee that will be with the company for the forseeable future. When employers have an urgent tech project that they need to staff for and get moving, contract-to-perm hiring is a good option.
- Another reason technical recruiters are seeing a lot more contract-to-perm roles is that these roles let a company see how well a candidate can perform. Because technical skills are so specialized and rare in the US, this is an especially important concern for employers. Even with coding tests and references, it’s hard for a company to know with 100% certainty if a candidate has the technical skills and experience to handle the work they’re being hired for. A contract-to-perm stint allows an employee to really demonstrate this, and then be taken on permanently once the employer sees they can be successful in the role.
- The last reason employers might be hiring on a contract-to-permanent basis more frequently these days is because of the profusion of Scrum, Agile, and their hybrids. Since companies are now using development methodologies, which require much more teamwork than the old Waterfall and similar models, how the candidate fits into the team is paramount. Hiring a candidate contract-to-perm allows employers to see firsthand how well they mesh with the team. If it’s not a fit, it’s easier for candidate and employer to part ways when it’s a contractor relationship. (This is a benefit for the contractor, too. Nobody wants to work on a team they’re ostracized from or have tension with!) If it is a fit, it’s easier for a company to take the candidate on permanently now, since they’re already working there as a contractor.
So it’s easy to see why employers like hiring contract-to-perm, but why would you, as the job seeker, want to be hired this way? Here are a few reasons IT recruiters see that candidates benefit from this kind of hiring.
- You get more opportunities when you’re open to this style of hiring. Plenty of companies don’t post all of their jobs online. The jobs they don’t post are the contract-to-perm jobs. This is for a variety of reasons, but mostly it’s because companies don’t have the time or manpower to post jobs that aren’t guaranteed to be long term. Work with IT recruiting companies you trust and let them know you’re open to contract-to-perm jobs. You’ll find that suddenly there are plenty more IT jobs you can be submitted to—jobs you didn’t even know existed before.
- You’ll get hired faster. As mentioned earlier, the permanent hiring process is much more complicated. There are many legal concerns, financial concerns, and the time and money needed to onboard a permanent employee. Perhaps you want to jump ship from a bad employer now (or yesterday), perhaps you need a new job that makes money faster, or perhaps you’ve been unemployed for a while and need a job period. Letting your IT staffing agencies submit you for contract-to-perm jobs increases your chances of getting hired somewhere new quickly.
- You get in the door places where you couldn’t before. As discussed earlier, companies are taking less risk in hiring somebody contract-to-perm. This emboldens them to try hiring candidates who may not fit every bullet of a job description perfectly. As a permanent candidate, you might be an automatic no for a company. Maybe you don’t have the Ivy League degree they want or are short a few years of experience in a certain programming language. However, as a contract-to-permanent candidate, you might be a yes. Having most of the requirements for the job can be enough for an employer to take a chance on you (because they know that if the arrangement doesn’t work out for one or both of you, it’s easy to end it). If you’ve wanted to work somewhere prestigious like a Google or Facebook, or simply want to try to take the next step up in your career, contract-to-perm hiring is a great way to do that.
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What will be the hot skill sets for tech job seekers in 2018? IT staffing firms are finding that technologies that pertain to mobile development and UX are highly in demand right now and will likely continue to increase in popularity. If you’re thinking about ways to expand your options for IT jobs in 2018, here are 2 reasons why you should pick up mobile development and UX skills.
- User experience is becoming imperative for a business’s success. Having a stellar website has become key to attracting and keeping Whatever the business, customers want to be able to do more online—from deciding whether to purchase the product or service, to using or maintaining it. Consumers are demanding online tools where they once accepted in-person and phone options. But it’s not just about providing those tools online. It’s also about making sure those tools are attractive, easy to use, and even enjoyable. Having a website with tools like that gives a company the edge over competitors in world where consumers do all their buying (and arguably, much of their living) online. As one high level executive says, “In a global, internet-saturated market, anyone from anywhere in the world can compete in any time zone. Competition is fierce and many “contemporary” UI elements come out of pre-canned toolkits. The piece that cannot be canned, the key market differentiator, is the delightful experience that can only be captured via a deep contextual understanding of the user and what they are trying to do.” In light of all of this, IT recruiting firms are finding that more and more companies are investing in their UX teams. This means more open UX roles for people with the right skills.
- Mobile development is key because mobile devices are rapidly overtaking desktop ones. When it comes to consumer behavior, mobile is becoming key. On Black Friday of 2017, stores estimate that 40% of sales came from mobile devices, not in-store sales. Companies that want to engage with customers online (which really should be every business, as mentioned above), must make sure their website translates well to mobile devices like cell phones, tablets and laptops. There’s also the element of SEO. Companies that want to be ranked higher in Google searches must have a decent mobile presence. In fact, websites that don’t translate well to mobile get dinged by Google and presented further down in search results. Considering how frequently most consumers look to Google to find their next vendor, companies can’t afford to ignore this information. Between consumer behavior and SEO rules, businesses are changing their priorities to be competitive. Technical recruiters are finding that employers are putting significant resources into expanding their mobile development team. If you have mobile development skills, you’ll likely enjoy a short, easy job search!
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