Infrastructure Support - IT Staffing Services

Tips for Tech Professionals on Writing Killer Interview Thank You Notes

Late winter and early spring are a great time to search for IT jobs.  Budgets have recently been approved to hire more people, and the tech economy is booming.  Addtionally, new development life cycles are often scheduled to start about now, and it’s the time of year when companies are often revisiting their products, services, and technologies, working on adding new features to applications and general improvements to keep competitive.  If you’re ready to job search, or perhaps you’ve already started, here’s one skill you can sharpen to really enhance your tech job search:  writing thank you notes.  Here are some tips from IT recruiters on how to write the kind of thank you note that impresses tech hiring managers.

  1. Take notes in your interview. This tactic isn’t just about looking and being more engaged in the interview (though that certainly wins you points).  It’s also about writing a better thank you note later.  Mark down important points you discuss in the interview.  What are imperative job functions do they bring up?  Are there any problems they’re facing as a company that you could help with?  Do they pose any questions that you might be more able to answer after a bit more thought?  These are the kinds of things to add into your thank you note later.  Time and again, IT staffing companies find that a generic thank you note (one that feels like it’s all from a template) will never impress hiring managers like a thank you note that makes reference to specifics from the interview.  In fact, some IT recruiters believe that a generic thank you note will hurt your candidacy more than help it!
  2. Be prompt. A thorough, detailed thank you note that’s beautifully-written will never make much of a splash if it’s too late.  Especially in the fast-paced tech industry, IT recruiting firms find that time is of the essence.  When you finish your interview, head home as soon as you can to write your thank you note.  Sending it the day of the interview (if possible) or within 24 hours is ideal.  Sending the note 48 hours later can be acceptable if you get really tied up.  If you send the note late, you might even find that the hiring manager has already assumed you’re not sending it and thus dinged your candidacy—or even rejected you for it.
  3. Send individual thank you notes. If you interview with multiple people, try to get their individual contact info from your technical recruiters.  Writing each of them a note will show a level of care that goes above and beyond what most candidates demonstrate.  If you can add a detail into each note that really personalizes it, that’s even better.  Especially today, where best practices for innovation involve so much teamwork, and Scrum and Agile have replaced the need for heads-down Waterfall-type tech professionals, showing off extra effort in your interpersonal skills can be key.  Individual, personalized thank you notes could make you seem like the kind of team player that hiring managers will love working with.
  4. Use your thank you note to address your weaknesses or concerns with your candidacy. This may not always be necessary, but if you felt there were concerns or weaknesses brought up in your interview, a thank you note can be a great place to address that.  The key is to keep things positive and, if possible, focus on how you’re already working to remedy these potential issues.  IT staffing agencies find that if you can handle this right, your thank you note can certainly strengthen your candidacy, as it’s your last impression on a hiring manager before they make their decision!


Interview thank you notes
Great thank you notes don’t feel like templates. Photo credit: 6689062 via Pixabay.

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What Technologies Will Get You a Job in 2018?

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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!

So if you’re ready to consider diving into mobile development and UX jobs, what technologies do you need to focus on learning or sharpening?  For mobile development, IT recruiters suggest that candidates learn Swift, Object-C, Cocoa Touch,  Kotlin, C, C++, Python, Java, Phone Gap, Xamarin and Xcode.  If you want to get a UX job, you’ll want to buff up on javascript frameworks (especially Angular) and HTML5.  (Of course, UX also includes plenty of other skills that are less technical and more artistic/design-oriented.)  Whichever direction you go in, you can be sure you’ll become a much more attractive candidate to employers and recruiters.


IT job search tips
Are you ready to look for a new job? Swift, Object-C, and Cocoa Touch might help! Photo credit: StockSnap via Pixabay.


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Why Tech Employers Should Still Consider Candidates with Big Gaps on their Resumes

When you’re hiring for tech positions, it can be tempting to toss out any resumes with a gap of 6 months or more.  IT recruiters see this all the time, especially because the tech job market is so hot these days.  (To put that in perspective, the unemployment rate for IT professionals in the first quarter of 2017 was 2.5% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The overall unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2017 was almost double that! It was 4.5%.)  IT staffing companies find that employers often think if somebody is unemployed for long, there’s something wrong with them.  The truth is, there are some legitimate reasons candidates might have big gaps on their resumes.  Here’s why you may want to consider a candidate, even if they have a long gap on their resume.

1.    Their reasons for a gap are solid.  It’s becoming more and more common for people to leave the workforce temporarily to care for a relative.  This will only continue as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age.  Taking time off to care for a new baby or sick relative doesn’t tell a hiring manager anything about a candidate’s skills, performance, or dedication to work.  The truth is, many people may face caregiving dilemmas over their lifetimes.  Sharp, efficient, talented IT professionals and unskilled ones alike take time off for caregiving.   So the next time you see a resume with a large gap taken for caregiving, remember that you could just as easily be in the same boat one day!  It’s also important to remember that there’s a very real dearth of IT professionals in the US right now.  You don’t want to limit your talent pool any further than it’s already been limited.

2.    Their technical skills may not be impacted by a gap.  With all the options for independent study, online classes, certifications, and more, it’s possible that a candidate has taken time off from a formal job but they haven’t taken time off from keeping up their technical expertise.  If you see a resume with a sizable gap and it concerns you, check out their technical proficiencies section.  Some people might even have a better arsenal of technical skills after taking time off from the workforce.  They may have used the time off to learn more than they would if they were working.

3.    Their base of technical skills might be enough, even if they don’t have the hottest new technologies under their belts.  Especially recently, IT staffing firms notice that companies will hire candidates with strong, basic foundations of technical skills.  Then they’ll just teach them the technologies they lack.  This works because there are many languages a candidate can learn that will prep them to quickly and easily acquire more languages.  Even if a candidate was out of work for a period of time and isn’t up to date with Python, for example, they might still have Ruby on Rails.  Knowing Ruby on Rails will make it easy for the candidate to pick up Python and perform a role that requires it.

4.    Their technical skills might not be up to date due to time taken off work, but they could have more vital skills.  As mentioned before, candidates can be (and are!) often caught up with technical knowledge on the job.  IT recruiting companies find that for some roles that require soft skills, companies will hire people with those skills.  They’ll then catch them up on the technical skills they need.  For some roles, like Helpdesk or Sales Engineer, having soft skills is imperative.  It’s arguably more important that having the right technical skills or experience.  For instance, a Sales Engineer who is charming and engaging with clients but needs to learn SAP on the job is a better hire than a candidate who knows SAP but is rude and off-putting to clients.

Tech resumes
Is a big gap always a problem on a resume? Photo credit: rawpixel via Pixabay.


Why Tech Resumes Should Be in Chronological, Not Functional Format

If you’re on the hunt for new IT jobs, you might be considering ways to format your resume.  While they’re not the most common format, IT recruiting firms do see a lot of functional format resumes from candidates. Functional format resumes, as opposed to chronological resumes, are based around a candidate’s skills instead of when they held each job.  Instead of listing each job in a timeline, functional format resumes list jobs and projects grouped under the kinds of skills used or titles held.  While it can be tempting to write this kind of resume in an especially skills-oriented field like tech, this is pretty inadvisable.  Here are three reasons why IT staffing companies suggest you only write chronological resumes if you’re an IT professional.

1. Chronological resumes help hiring managers and IT recruiters see your career progression and any employment gaps (or lack thereof) easily.  In a field like tech, this is very important.  The unemployment rate is so low that hiring managers tend to view long employment gaps as red flags.  Career progression isn’t a field-specific criterion, but it is still pretty important for hiring managers in tech.  For instance, if you’ve stayed in a Help Desk role for over 5 years, but want to be a Systems Engineer, technical recruiters will have a hard time submitting you to roles like that.  When you use a functional format resume, it can be difficult to quickly discern your career progression or if you have any employment gaps.  If it’s too time-consuming or difficult to see these things on your resume, a hiring manager may just toss it and move on to another candidate with a clearer resume.

2. Chronological resumes help recruiters and managers see how recently you’ve worked with certain technologies.  This is important for a two reasons. Firstly, managers will want to know that your relevant skills for an open role are fresh.  If you’ve got a functional format resume, this isn’t always clear.  Secondly, it’s important for hiring managers to know that you’ve used a particular technology recently.  Technologies themselves can change so quickly.  If you used C++ in the 90’s, you might not be ready to use it today due to all the new frameworks you can program in. Again, a functional format can’t make it quite as clear when you used a certain technology.  A chronological resume format makes it crystal clear.

3. A chronological resume better facilitates descriptions of each environment you’ve worked in at each job.  Since environments can change so much in terms of technologies and scalability, this is very important for hiring managers and IT staffing firms to see.  Chronological resumes allow you to separate out key information in an easily digestible form for a manager or recruiter.  With one glance, they can see where you worked, the environment, and your responsibilities and achievements there.  Functional format resumes can really muddy this, if not completely obscure it.



IT resume tips
Don’t use a functional format when you’re creating your tech resume. It may just hold you back from landing jobs. Photo credit: Engin_Akyurt via Pixabay.


What Does it Mean if My Interviewer Was Disengaged? 

When you go to interviews for IT jobs, you’re likely to be engaged in the process.  You may even be anxious and hyper-focused.  Sometimes IT recruiters find that hiring managers can actually be disengaged or appear completely disinterested in the process.  Does this mean you didn’t land the job? Not necessarily.

IT staffing firms find that there are a lot of reasons that hiring managers might be disengaged during an interview—and many of them don’t have anything to with your candidacy.  One of the main reasons that IT recruiting firms hear managers are disengaged is because they’re busy handling a major issue (possibly even a crisis) that just popped up.  This can especially be the case if you’re interviewing with a high-level manager.  If a crisis pops up at the very last-minute, or even if the hiring manager is really interested in the candidate, they’ll move forward with the job interview regardless.  If you’re feeling less confident in an interview because the hiring manager seems uninterested or keeps checking email, consider this: maybe a hiring manager wants to meet with you so badly he or she will do it even if they’re in the middle of a dealing with a big production issue, a looming release date, or a massive security breach of a their company’s data.

Besides major crises or work demands, a hiring manager could be less engaged in the interview process for another reason: perhaps they’re not a key decision-maker.  Sometimes IT recruiting companies find that an employer will require certain managers to be on the hiring committee, even if they don’t have much influence (or interest) with the decision.  They might seem checked-out during the interview because they actually are. And that means nothing about your candidacy.  A disengaged manager could be simply sitting in on the interview, allowing the rest of the hiring team to drive the process.

So what should you do if your interviewer spends your whole conversation looking at email, or asking very few questions?  Technical recruiters suggest you just let it go and do your best anyways.  Don’t give up on the interview or start doubting yourself.  Focus on the questions asked and building a rapport with the other interviewers (if any).

You might talk to your IT recruiters about it afterwards, and they may have an answer for you.  Perhaps not.  The hiring process can be unpredictable, so you can’t analyze things for signs.  Put your energy towards working with your IT staffing companies until you find the right role for you.  Who knows—you might just have won over that very disengaged interview.

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IT job interviews
There are a lot of reasons why your interviewer might be checking their phone. Photo credit: rawpixel via Pixabay.


2 Mistakes Not to Make with Your References

Good references are imperative to landing new IT jobs.  Here are two mistakes that IT recruiters see candidates make far too often.

Don’t give references that you haven’t spoken to recently.  When technical recruiters and potential employers call your references, you want them to be prepared to take the call.  Reach out to your references when you start you job hunt.  Ask them if they would vouch for you (or vouch for you again if they have before).  You’ll want to share all of the kinds of roles you’re interested in pursuing.  While this is a courtesy to your references, it will also make you look like you’re organized, prepared for the job search, and you understand professional norms.  Employers will know you didn’t follow the usual procedure most other candidates do if your references answer the phone and are confused—or worse yet, don’t remember you.  (It’s also worth noting that you want to look at least somewhat memorable to potential employers!  Who wants to hire the candidate who didn’t even make a dent on their reference’s radars?!)

Not reaching out to your references is also a mistake because it’s a missed opportunity to help them  give you a really powerful recommendation.  Your references will do a better job if you share the kinds of experience or qualities you’d like them to highlight when they speak to your  IT staffing firms and potential employers.  Are you applying for jobs requiring customer service skills?  Ask your references to mention it if they have a positive impression of your customer service skills.  Need them to highlight your debugging abilities?  Let them know before any IT recruiting agencies call.  You can’t control what a reference says, but you can provide them the info to be as helpful to you as possible.

Don’t give a misleading or fake reference.  Sometimes IT recruiting firms find that candidates will give references who they haven’t actually ever work directly with.  Some candidates will go so far as to give the names and numbers of people who know them and pose as former coworkers or managers.  Giving deceitful or blatantly fake references is the worst mistake you could make as a candidate.  IT staffing companies usually decide never to work with a candidate again if they do this.  Employers will usually blacklist you.  Being anything less than truthful in your job search will definitely hurt you chances of landing your next role.


Job search references
Haven’t talked to your references recently? Fix that before your job search! Photo credit: bssmadeit via Pixabay.


Getting Interview Feedback—and What to Do With It

If you’re working with IT recruiting companies to find your next role, you’re giving yourself many advantages.  They’ll help prep you, advocate for you, and negotiate salary for you.  Probably one of the advantages that’s least discussed is that IT recruiters can get you feedback when you don’t land IT jobs.  As a candidate without an IT recruiter representing them, you can try to ask for feedback.  However, it’s never guaranteed.  Most employers actually prefer not to give feedback to rejected candidates for legal reasons.  They don’t want to say something that could be misconstrued or that they may be sued for.  Plenty of companies actually just have a blanket policy to never to give feedback to rejected candidates as a protective measure.  There’s also just the issue of time.  Most employers simply don’t have the time to give feedback to all rejected candidates.  Add to these two common obstacles the fact that you don’t have much of a relationship with the employer anyways, and this makes your chances of receiving feedback pretty low.  When you do have IT staffing companies representing you, they may be able to convince an employer to share some helpful feedback.

Why is getting negative feedback an advantage?  If you can get constructive feedback, sometimes it can help you learn how to interview better.  Or perhaps it can even help you make larger changes in your career.  Some common examples of useful interview feedback are when employers tell technical recruiters a candidate didn’t land the job because they brought up politics in an interview, didn’t wear appropriate clothes, or were late.  These are certainly reasons IT staffing firms find that candidates are rejected from jobs.  They’re also very easy things to fix so candidates can make sure they do nail an interview in the future.  Sometimes a candidate didn’t brush up enough on a technology before the interview or was unprepared to take a coding test.  If their recruiter can share this, the candidate will know to study and prepare more next time.

So if you’re working with IT recruiting firms, don’t forget to ask for feedback when you’re rejected from an employer.  Keep an open mind and really consider how you might use any feedback you receive.  While nobody loves being told they did something wrong, that’s only a minor part of this process. You can choose to turn your feedback into an opportunity to become even more employable.  You also have the benefit of your recruiter’s opinion.  Good IT recruiters will be happy to take a few minutes to discuss this feedback with you and help you understand what you can do better in your next interview, how you can build a more marketable skillset, etc.  Taking this time to learn lessons from interview feedback now means a better career in the future.


interview feedback for tech interviews
Getting constructive feedback can make you a better interviewer. Photo credit: Tumisu via Pixabay.


How to Pick a Good Coding Boot Camp

If you’re thinking about a coding boot camp, you’re not alone.  IT staffing companies have seen an explosion in boot camp popularity in the last few years.   IT recruiters certainly find that many candidates seeking new IT jobs (especially their first programming roles) have a boot camp on their resumes.  The questions is, are they worth it?  The tuition for many of these boot camps is often in the thousands, so it’s imperative you make back that money with some great IT jobs.  Here’s how to make sure you pick the best boot camp for you.

1. Do research on the job market in the area you live in. What are the most in-demand programming languages?  Just as importantly, what are the most in-demand programming languages for the kinds of roles you want?  IT staffing firms would advise you to make sure you understand not only what skills are marketable, but what skills are marketable and will land you a job you will at least moderately enjoy.  You don’t want to realize that you hate the kinds of roles you paid thousands of dollars to be able to land.  IT recruiters find that people who hate their jobs rarely succeed at them, or at least succeed at them long-term.

2. Seek out recommendations. Ask people in your network if they have gone to, or know of, boot camps that are effective.  Check online at sites like Course Report.  You might also reach out to your IT staffing agencies to see if they can recommend any great local boot camps for the kinds of roles and skills you’d like in the future.

3. Once you find some programs that look good, IT recruiting agencies suggest that you step back and look them over one last time. Ask questions about them, including these:

  • What is the rate at which grads land their ideal roles?
  • What is the rate at which students graduate?
  • Do these boot camps offer connections to internships, projects or potential employers?
  • Can you handle the final cost of this boot camp, or will it be too expensive of a risk?

4. Based on all these steps, make a choice.  IT recruiting companies would urge you to consider the fact that sometimes, your best choice may be to skip the coding boot camp (at least for now).  Sometimes there truly aren’t any coding boot camps that would be a good investment in your career.  Though boot camps are being hailed as the new gold rush, there are many that won’t help you land the IT jobs you want. The wise IT professional sees this– and saves their time and money.


Coding boot camps  are always intense, but they aren’t always worth the money. Photo credit: skeeze via Pixabay.


The 2 Highest-Paying IT Jobs

Most IT jobs pay well and are stable, even in a tough economy.  However, if you’re seeking roles with the best paycheck, recent studies have shown that you should consider being a Software Architect or Data Scientist.  IT recruiting firms see a huge boom in these two roles and believe it will continue into the future.

Software Architect: IT staffing agencies see trends that show that being a software architect is likely to give you the highest paycheck on average.  There are a few reasons for this.  Firstly, Software Architects almost always have a college degree in Computer Science (or a similar field) and an additional professional certification.  These qualifications alone are somewhat rare in the US.  Secondly, IT recruiting companies find that Software Architect roles require two very different kinds of skills.  Software Architects need high proficiency in technical skills including Engineering and Computer Science, but they also need great communication skills, particularly in highly corporate environments.  Often the more technical somebody is the less they want to be client-facing.  Software architects are some of the few IT professionals that not only walk this line, they embrace it.  This combination of skills is rare enough to warrant a high salary. Lastly, Software Architects are leaders.  They help direct the vision of projects and often supervise others in bringing it to life.

Data Scientist: IT recruiting firms find that Data Scientists are routinely listed as the second-highest paid role in tech because of the extreme demand for Big Data in pretty much every industry.  There are few companies that don’t want to be gathering and measuring client data to improve their performance.  Perhaps more notably, big companies with huge budgets for talent, like banks or oil companies, are setting the bar high for Data Scientist compensation.   Another reason why IT staffing firms find that Data Scientists are so well-paid is that Big Data can also help companies streamline their own processes to save time and money.  Lastly, Data Scientists usually have the education to demand high salaries.  More often than not, Data Scientists have a Master’s or Doctorate in Computer Science, Math, Statistics, or a similar area.


Big Data is a hot commodity, as are Data Scientists. Photo credit: Tumisu via Pixabay.


Do You Need to Move to Get a New IT Job?

IT recruiting firms find that IT professionals often wonder if they need to move to get new or better IT jobs.  The answer to this question may leave you happily surprised.

As is probably obvious, technology has become widely accepted as one of the most powerful tools for businesses and organizations.  This means that most, if not all businesses and organizations around the US use IT staffing companies to find tech professionals.  There are plenty of companies or organizations that you may not associate with technology, but these companies do use it quite a bit.  They use various technologies to interact with and attract consumers, streamline their business operations, connect their employees, and so much more. Some industries that you might not expect to use IT recruiting agencies to employ a lot of IT professionals include retail, healthcare, and education.

Taking all of this into account, you probably don’t have to move to find a new IT job with your technical recruiters.  Particularly if you’re near a big city, you’ll be near businesses or organizations that need Programmers, Systems Engineers, Business Analysts, and a wide variety of other IT professionals.   If you’re not close to a bigger metro area, your IT recruiting companies may suggest that you simply need to consider a slightly longer commute. All of this doesn’t even include remote options, which are certainly growing.

So before you resign yourself to moving, call your IT staffing firms.  You never know what jobs may be in your own backyard– literally.


Will you need to move to get a new IT job? Probably not! Photo credit: MikeBird via Pixabay.