It may seem obvious, whether you’re in information technology or any other industry: It’s never ok to cry at work. But the truth is, depending on the IT jobs and the IT managers, sometimes it may be acceptable. While most IT recruiters and IT professionals would advise any IT contractor never to cry on the job, a few tears may not be so out of the cultural norms for some companies. Why?
There are some places, like non-profits, where a passionate IT consultant might fit in better with the workplace culture. If a few tears escape, but they’re rare and don’t inhibit your managers and coworkers from having a productive relationship with you, don’t worry too much about it. When crying is controlled and clearly a biological reaction, not an attempt at manipulation or a common occurrence, it can be excusable.
Most IT recruiters have had the awkward experience of speaking to an IT consultant about IT jobs—while they’re at their current job. Even in fields like information technology, where IT Professionals should definitely know better, IT consultants still search for a job while at work. What’s so risky about this?
Searching for a job at work is a terrible idea for a few reasons. Technical recruiters would be quick to point out that using your work computer for anything but work is already a bad start. IT managers are absolutely allowed to check what you’re doing with work property, so they could easily find your job search materials and emails. Besides exposing yourself to an untimely discovery of your job search, you’re also risking lower productivity in your job. If you’re giving your work any less than 100%, you may be hurting your reputation. Looking for a new job is fine, but make sure to do it outside of the office—it’s the safest way to do it.
In interviews for IT jobs, IT managers will always provide time for the IT professionals they’re interviewing to ask questions. While this time might seem open, it’s important for IT recruiters to prep the IT consultants they’re working with to be prepared to follow the unwritten rules of asking questions in job interviews.
Firstly, IT contractors should know that the most important rule to follow is to always ask at least a few questions. Asking nothing makes you appear unengaged and/or unprepared. If you leave the time unused, you’ll most certainly be writing yourself off their short list for the job.
The second rule is to make sure that when asking questions, the IT professionals stay away from anything that sounds too demanding, indicates anything other than an impeccable work ethic, or gets into personal info of either the interviewer or themselves. There are plenty of questions that one may want to ask about the workplace culture or how the job will impact their life. But these questions are best left until after you have an offer in your hand. Otherwise, they create a terrible impression.
All IT recruiters have a list of generic tips for IT professionals who are polishing their resumes. These may vary from IT staffing firms to IT staffing firms, but there is one major rule that all IT contractors should abide by if they want to attract a lot of attention from technical recruiters and IT managers: have a killer ‘Technical Proficiencies’ or skills section.
Why is this section so important? It provides a very efficient response to the question that most IT headhunters and the managers they’re working for have: can you take care of the particular kind of problems and work we need taken care of? While things like making sure you’re a great cultural fit are important, it’s imperative for managers to hire people who can do the work they need done. Your ‘Technical Proficiencies’ section will answer this question immediately, especially if you put it at the top of your resume. Polishing this section can quickly bring you to the top of the ‘yes’ pile!
Most IT recruiters and IT contractors have heard a horror story or two about terrible IT managers. In a field like information technology, which is very team-oriented, having a good manager can really make all the difference. To avoid becoming one of those legendary managers from hell that all technical recruiters and IT consultants have heard of, here are three things you should avoid doing.
- Skimping on the praise: Give praise often and in various forms. Publicly, privately, informally, or in structured formats. Pointing out what your employees do right and really rewarding these things will have some serious benefits. Your employees will work harder to please you and will do the right thing more often. You’ll also have a better relationship with them, and this makes for a better work environment and better employee retention.
- Making your company or team’s culture all work, no play. Don’t forget to give your employees a chance to smile and laugh at work. You don’t have to give your employees a day-long party, but small moments are necessary. Happier employees are more productive and more loyal.
- Making yourself unavailable. While your employees shouldn’t need you like a security blanket, they should feel like you’re a resource for them when they really need it. Giving them the help and support they need will certainly pay off in spades. Their performances will improve, as will your relationship with them.
If any field uses email to network a lot, it’s information technology. While IT professionals can count on more casual interactions overall, there’s still some hard and fast rules of etiquette that IT contractors, IT recruiters, and IT managers alike need to listen to. Here are a few email rules that will help IT consultants and technical recruiters keep their jobs—and maybe get some new IT jobs, too!
- Don’t get too personal too quickly. Making introductions without warning, sharing something you’d like feedback on or giving unsolicited feedback, or suggesting a partnership/collaboration without much discussion. These behaviors are all incredibly off-putting and alienating, so take your time before doing them. Make sure you have an established relationship and probably a conversation or two that leads up to these actions.
- Don’t be too pushy. Asking for a confirmation of receipt, adding return receipts, sending follow-up emails, and calling or following up in person are all too aggressive. Give adequate time for a response. If you receive none, let it go if you can. It’s probably just going to lead to an awkward conversation later if you push it.
- Do hold off on caps lock, emoticons, and strongly worded messages. Be as professional as possible and don’t leave room for your recipients to interpret your messages as overly emotional. It’s just too easy to do without the tone of your voice to accompany it.
- Do remember that emails are forever. Somebody can save an email forever and show it to whoever they want. Word it carefully so this information doesn’t bother you!
All IT recruiters and IT contractors know the vital importance of having your IT managers like you. Though pristine resumes chock full of skills are important, IT professionals that rub their IT managers the wrong way will develop terrible reputations with their IT recruiters and in the information technology field in general.
It’s also important to make sure your manager likes you for one more reason: they are probably allowed to fire you if they don’t. Most states in the US are at-will, meaning employers can fire you for whatever reason they want. While reasonable managers won’t fire you just because they don’t like you, their dislike will make you vulnerable. If you make a major mistake or your company is doing lay-offs, the people who hold onto their IT jobs will be the ones whom managers want to continue working with. Try to make sure that’s you!
A recent poll reveals that 52% of Americans are disgruntled and unsatisfied with their current jobs. While there’s no particular numbers on how much of that 52% of the population is made up of IT recruiters, IT managers, or IT contractors, it’s safe to assume they have to make up at least a portion of that. A shocking recent trend that no IT professional should engage in is the practice of quitting with a video—and worse, posting it on Youtube.
Since Marina Schifrin’s viral ‘I Quit’ video back in October, the trend has only increased. For IT consultants who aim to keep a good reputation within the information technology field, though, this tactic is downright dangerous. Quitting always needs to be done in a courteous, calm manner. Doing it on video, in anything but that, will likely destroy one’s reputation with all IT staffing firms and IT companies who come view it. Even perfect resumes couldn’t survive the damage of an unprofessional video posted online.
Across most industries, including information technology, bribing is a popular method to motivate employees. Unfortunately, this method does the IT managers who use it no good. IT contractors need management tactics that go beyond offering rewards to really impact their performance at their IT jobs.
IT consultants may show slight improvements over time, but in the long run, IT professionals need to feel a strong tie to their company and their team. Once this kind of connection has been established, performance will skyrocket—consistently. Rewards, unfortunately, only capture interest for as long as they are unavailable. Once achieved or received, employees are no longer motivated. The performance level is also only as high as the reward is impressive, too. Since most companies are unlikely to provided incredibly expensive awards, they are unlikely to garner much of a result from the ones they do offer. In a way, companies should appreciate this: the best motivator for employees is free!
While all IT recruiters and IT managers tend to know that it’s illegal to ask IT professionals if they have children or are married during interviews for IT jobs, sometimes it still happens. Even if the question doesn’t come up explicitly, IT contractors should know how to handle their various familial obligations in interviews.
The first thing IT consultants want to take into consideration is that they would do best to avoid being defensive or difficult when it comes to familial obligations—or any other topic—in a job interview. Even if they’re asked an illegal question, it won’t help to respond by pointing it out combatively. Give an answer that focuses on how committed you are to your job, whether you have familial commitments or not. The key is to provide the interviewer with what they’re looking for: a promise to be a fully present, committed employee.
For those IT professionals looking to test out the waters on how well a job will fit with their family commitments, the protocol is a bit different. While you don’t want to overemphasize your commitments outside of work, you can ask a question or two at the end of the interview about the hours/commitment expected. Being vague is the key here. Later, doing research via connections, Glassdoor, and recruiters, will be the time to be a bit more honest about your obligations.