If your company is looking to hire new tech talent in 2018, you’ll need to get even more competitive. Per the New York Times, the labor market has gotten tighter with our overall unemployment rate at a 17-year low of 4.1%. Tech has an even lower unemployment rate at 2.9%. Add to these numbers the usual dearth of tech talent in the US, and you’ve got a recipe for a very competitive hiring process. Don’t despair, though. If you want to hire great talent for your IT job openings, you can do it with a little elbow grease and these tips from IT staffing companies:
Sell the company more, especially during phone interviews and in-person interviews. IT staffing firms may not have suggested this. Ideally, an interview is more of a 2-way street. It’s about finding the right fit—for both employer and employee. In a labor market so tight, even candidates with prison records are suddenly being considered more frequently, the game has changed a bit. You’ll want to dedicate more time to telling the candidate about your perks, your company culture if it’s fun and collaborative, and any hot technologies you can offer employees a chance to get experience with. It can also be a good idea to consider giving a tour of the company, introducing candidates to the team, and highlighting your Glassdoor reviews if you have a lot of good ones and a high overall score. Taking steps like this helps the candidate to picture themselves working for you—and enjoying it!
Make your hiring process faster.IT recruiters find that one of the best ways to excite a candidate is to make them feel valued. Make a candidate feel like they’re your top choice, and your chances of having them join your team soar exponentially. There are a lot of ways to do this, but one especially effective method is to make your hiring process faster. The quicker you can get back to a candidate, the more confident they’ll feel in your interest and/or offers. No candidate wants to feel like a company spent days upon days, or worse, weeks, debating whether they were a good fit…it leads them to feel insecure! Even companies like Google and Amazon have been rumored to quicken their hiring processes lately to deal with a tighter tech labor market! This process has the added side benefits of helping you get better talent overall. IT recruiting companies have long bemoaned slow hiring processes. Even in the best of markets for employers, they’ll still lose you tech candidates, who are often juggling multiple interview processes and are frequently passive candidates. If you can quicken your hiring process, it will help you not only in this intensely competitive job seeker’s market. It will also help you later on if you can keep it up.
Provide flexible work schedules when possible. There are a few things that attract a candidate: the hottest technologies, high salaries, fun perks, and a good commute. Perks and salary are hard to change, since employers often have limited resources. The same is true of commute, of course (your office is located where it’s located, there’s not much that can be done about that, usually.) The technologies you give your employees access to is dependent on your own company goals. It’s not always feasible to change over to a new hot technology when you’re already busy working with another on important projects. This leaves flexible work schedules as your secret weapon in the war for winning top talent. Everyone loves a flexible work schedule. Recent grads, to working parents, to older workers who are possibly busy taking care of elderly parents all appreciate a little work-life balance. The best part about flexible work schedules is that it doesn’t often cost more than trust to implement. You simply have to trust your employees to do what they need to, when they say they will do it. There’s no need to move buildings, find extra money in the budget, or move all your existing code onto a hot new technology you’re not even sure you’ll use next year. Create the kind of environment that supports flexible work schedules– one where nobody ever feels nervous or uncomfortable asking to take a day to work remotely, move their hours, etc. Then sell it to your potential employees. Talk it up in interviews, on your website, on your social media, and make sure your IT recruiting agencies talk it up to candidates! Candidates will be flocking to you in no time!
When you’re in the tech field, job searching can be easier because you’re more in demand. You’ll often have IT staffing companies reaching out to you, even when you’re perfectly happy in your current job. If you are searching, you may be juggling multiple interview processes at a time and even multiple job offers. This means that at some point you’ll be put in the position of declining a job offer. This can be a delicate task with lasting effects. Here are some tips from IT recruiters on how to gracefully decline a job offer and avoid burning any bridges in the tech sphere.
You must respond. Do not under any circumstances just ignore the offer. Reach out to the employer or technical recruiters and reject the offer if you don’t want it. You’ll definitely torpedo your reputation with employers and IT recruiting companies if you don’t give any response to a job offer. Putting out job offers is a labor-intensive process for employers that takes a lot of time. To not even give a rejection is unthinkably rude and makes you look incredibly unprofessional.
Keep it quick. Don’t drag your feet on rejecting a job offer when you know it’s not right for you. The sooner you can tell the employer no, the better the whole interaction will go. It’s especially important not to do something like accepting a job offer, then waiting for something better. Or dragging your feet to respond to a job offer while waiting for something better. It can be tempting, or even feel completely logical to do this. You’ve got to look out for yourself, right? But pulling a move like this will likely hurt you in the future. If you deceive an employer or reject it in a way that obstructs their hiring process, you’ll definitely frustrate them. You’ll probably blackball yourself as an applicant at that company in the future. You’ll also likely hurt your reputation with the people who work there. Considering how small the tech sphere can be sometimes, that’s a big risk to take!
Keep it respectful, gracious, and pleasant. It’s entirely possible to reject a job offer without offending or frustrating a company. If you adopt the right tone and thank the company warmly for their time and consideration, IT recruiting agencies find that you can still walk away with goodwill. Find specific things you genuinely liked about the job, company and/or team and mention them. Specifics will go a long way in proving that the company made a positive impression on you. If you’d like to be able to apply to this employer in the future, say so. It’s entirely possible that a job offer right now at company X isn’t a good fit, but 5 years from now, it will be! Companies understand this and will appreciate it if you’re clear about it. There are cases where this won’t work, of course, but that’s a red flag in itself. If a company responds to a gracious rejection of a job offer with hostility and animosity, then they may not be pleasant to work for anyways!
Give a reason if you have one that is temporary and palatable to an employer. In some cases, it can help to give employers a straightforward, honest reason why you’re rejecting their job offer. It can be completely acceptable to say you’ve received an alternate job offer with a higher salary, better commute, or more flexible schedule. It’s also fine to tell an employer if your personal circumstances have changed and you’re not ready to make start a new job. Maybe you have a sick relative, you need to move, etc. As mentioned before, your aim should be to keep the whole conversation positive. There are definitely reasons that you should NOT give to an employer for rejecting their job offer. The most obvious is if you’re taking a counter-offer from your current employer. While this is usually a bad move to make for yourself (check out this blog post here), it also looks terrible to employers. It can make them feel like you’ve used their (extensive) time and effort just to get yourself a raise from your boss. At the very least, it looks like you have bad judgement, which makes you seem pretty unhirable.
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!
While the tech job market always seems to be hot, January is an especially good time to be searching. Many companies begin their fiscal year in January and have the budget to hire new IT professionals. IT recruiters also find that companies often start development life cycles in January. With new applications to develop, companies will have their technical recruiters looking for new software programmers, web developers, UX/UI developers, etc to hire. It’s also worth noting that it’s very advantageous to get hired at the beginning of a development life cycle. Having experience with a project from beginning to end (or beginning to maintenance) looks excellent on a resume. IT staffing firms love to see that kind of experience on your resume. So if you’re ready to look for new IT jobs, January is the time to do it! Here’s a checklist to prep yourself.
Your Resume: Get it updated and clean out old/irrelevant experience (probably anything older than the last 10 years or anything that’s in a totally different, irrelevant field). Remember to use your bullets to show off your contributions and achievements at the companies you’ve worked with. Help hiring managers and IT recruiting agencies see the value you bring as an employee. Post your updated resume on the job boards, especially if it’s been a while since you last searched.
Your LinkedIn Profile: This is almost as important as your resume. Since the vast majority of people in tech use LinkedIn, it can sometimes be considered a red flag if you don’t have a profile there. Make sure you update your LinkedIn profile more concisely than your resume. You can use your resume to elaborate on your technical skills and experience.
Your References: Check in with them and let them know you’re job searching. Give them an idea of the kinds of roles you’re looking for. Thank them for their help with your job search. (And don’t forget to thank them again when you land your new job!)
Your Portfolio: If you’re a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, UX/UI Developer, or have a skill-set in a similar vein, you may want to get your portfolio ready. Make sure you have your latest and best samples of your work added in. Be aware of copyright issues and don’t openly break them if your company won’t allow you to share examples of your work for them. No employer wants to hire somebody who seems untrustworthy.
Call IT Recruiters: If you’ve already developed a relationship with recruiters, give them a call and send along your latest resume. If you haven’t worked with IT staffing companies before, now’s a great time to do it! Find an IT recruiting firm that has a great reputation and reach out with your job search materials. A good technical recruiter will help you find a job that you love and can succeed in.
Tech professionals don’t have to heed the same 1-page resume rule that most other professionals do. IT recruiters and hiring managers are usually a lot more permissive of longer resumes. This doesn’t mean that you want to submit novellas, though. To land a new job, you need to be able to show some restraint and edit your resume down to something more concise. Here’s how to edit your experience.
Cut anything over 10-ish years. There are certainly exceptions to this rule, but in general, you won’t need anything over 10 years. Since technologies change so frequently, you’ll be discussing technologies and skills that may be completely irrelevant to the roles you’re applying to. Don’t waste space on your resume talking about obsolete technologies you’ve used. Keep that space open to talk about your more recent jobs!
Focus on the jobs you’ve done in the last 5 years. This is true for anyone, no matter how much experience you have on your resume. Technical recruiters sometimes see resumes with equal bullets dedicated to each and every job. That’s not only unnecessary; it actually may hurt the overall effectiveness of your resume. Your resume should help a hiring manager imagine you in their open role. The most recent jobs are likely the ones that have prepared you to do this kind of work. Detail out what you achieved in your last few roles, the technologies you used, and how you contributed to your team/company. Giving this kind of crucial information is what helps you land great IT jobs.
Cut any irrelevant experience. If you worked a job in a completely different industry, don’t worry about adding it into your resume. You only want it there if you need to account for your career in the last 5 years. Even then, if you need to have the job on your resume, just list it and the years or months you worked. IT recruiting agencies would suggest that you never waste bullets on irrelevant experience.
Who do you text? Friends? Family? How about your IT recruiters? IT staffing firms are texting with job seekers more and more frequently. Perhaps more surprising is that research says that many candidates are ok with it– and sometimes initiate it themselves.
Why is texting now a mode of communication that IT recruiting companies use? Likely, one of the biggest reasons you might be getting texts from your technical recruiters these days is the prevalence of cell phones and texting. Studies show that not only do nearly all American adults have a cell phone, but most check their cell phone frequently. Though the numbers vary, Americans can spend between 2 and 5 hours on their cell phones, collectively, over the average day. Most people break that up into many short sessions, but the amount is still staggering. It also makes it easy to see why IT recruiting agencies use text to reach out to job seekers: they’re very likely to check the message.
Recruiters aren’t just texting candidates because it’s a reliable way to reach them. They’re also doing so because candidates are generally ok with it. Again, numbers vary, but job seekers still tend to see IT recruiters who text as trustworthy professionals (depending on what survey you’re looking at) between rates of 40%-70%. Perhaps what’s most interesting about this is the fact that these numbers aren’t all within younger demographics. Job seekers older than millennials also seem to be fine with texts from their recruiters. Everyone seems to be ok with texting during the job search—both candidates and recruiters alike.
The last reason you might be getting texts from your IT recruiting firms is that sometimes a text just works best for a given situation. Candidates who can’t pick up the phone during a workday are more likely to respond to a silent text message. Candidates who are on their way to an interview might need to shoot their recruiters a quick text confirming they made it, asking for directions, or coordinating meeting. Considering the fact that most text messages are opened at a rate near 100% of the time, it’s not shocking that IT recruiters are now texting with their candidates. Sometimes a text is just easier– even during your job search!
Sometimes you have reasons to move across the country: your spouse or partner got a new job, you want to be closer to family, or maybe you just need a change of scenery. When it’s time to make a huge move like this, getting a new job will be a big piece of the puzzle. To figure out this part of your moving plan, you should seriously consider working with IT staffing companies. In fact, IT recruiting firms are especially helpful with this kind of task. Here are 2 reasons why:
They’re local to the area. Reaching out to IT staffing firms can be a great way to conduct your job search if you’re picking an area that you’re not familiar with. Or perhaps you’re looking at an area that you’re a little familiar with but haven’t been back to in a while. Either way, good IT recruiters will advise you on what jobs can give you a good commute or they can advise you on what part of town you should live in to optimize your options for IT jobs.
They can help you find the job that suits you. Besides knowing the area geographically, IT recruiting agencies know detailed information about the employers in it. They can tell you what technical skill-sets is in-demand in each area so you can build up or tailor your resume. They can also tell you which companies have good reputations as employers (and what companies don’t). This is the kind of information you need to be able to find a job that you can be happy and succeed in. It’s not just about landing any job that will hire you! You want a job that values your skills and experience and has a corporate culture you fit into and enjoy. It can be hard to find this on your own, but luckily you don’t have to. Good IT staffing agencies build strong relationships with local employers. They make it their business to know what technical skills and experiences these employers need, as well as what kind of work environment they offer. You can capitalize on this insight when you build a good relationship with technical recruiters wherever you relocate.
If you’re an IT professional searching for your next job, you probably want to steer clear of any resume gimmicks. We’ve all heard or read about tricks that make your resume “stand out” to IT recruiters or hiring managers. Maybe it’s sending your resume in hard copy, using a creative, flashy format, or any number of other unconventional ideas. The problem is that resume gimmicks are usually terrible ideas that will actually seriously hurt your credibility with IT staffing companies and employers. The one exception to this rule is if you’re formatting to show off artistic skills that are relevant to the job listing. Graphic designers, UX/UI developers, and similar roles can often benefit from a resume that’s formatted with aesthetic creativity. For everyone else in tech, though, here’s why you need to create the standard, conventional resume if you want to land great IT jobs.
Resume gimmicks make your resume look even more generic. Ideally, IT staffing firms suggest that you tailor your resume to every job you’re applying to. This shows a real interest in the role, the work, the company, or all three. Tech employers are notorious for asking technical recruiters to help find candidates who are passionate about the work they do, their company culture, etc. When you offer a gimmicky resume, it doesn’t help make your resume look like you’ve tailored it to the role, and thus can lead employers to think there’ s a lack of passion for the position, technologies, company culture, etc. Often people will mass produce and send out gimmicky resumes. Gimmicks are rarely tailored to the employer. Based on this pattern, you’ve already potentially taken yourself down a few notches in the employer’s eye.
Resume gimmicks make it harder for employer and IT recruiting agencies to see exactly what skills, experience, and technologies you have. Most tech positions require that you have certain technologies, skills, etc. Not having them can be a huge problem and seriously impede your ability to handle the workload. For this reason, the strongest resumes cleanly lay out what skills or technologies the candidate has and how they’ve applied in them in previous positions. Don’t distract IT recruiters or employers with something flashy and irrelevant, like an unconventional format. You also don’t want to take space away from achieving this goal. Often, these gimmicky resumes require extra space for graphics—space that you could be using to show off your technical acumen. You don’t want to hurt your chances for landing a job because an employer sees your funky resume, but isn’t sure you have hands-on experience with a certain programming language or web platform.
Resume gimmicks make it seem like you’re trying to hide something. Often the people who use gimmicky resumes do so because they’re not confident in their experience or technical skills. Rightly or wrongly, some supspicious hiring managers will nix a resume just because it’s gimmicky-looking. Particularly in tech, where positions are so imperative to a company’s success and salaries are higher, a manager can’t risk making a bad hiring decision. It’s just too expensive. Don’t risk being rejected just because your gimmicky resume set off a suspicious hiring manager’s radar! Create a simple, straight-forward resume that shows why you’re ready to contribute to an employer.
For some candidates, the hardest part of searching for new IT jobs is not getting feedback when they don’t land the job. IT professionals are often pretty disappointed to hear nothing back after they apply for a job, after their IT recruiters submit them for a job, or after they interview. Here’s why you might not get feedback—and what you can do about it.
You may not hear back from employers because they simply don’t give anybody feedback unless they land the job. Many companies are nervous about giving feedback for 4 reasons.
Firstly, companies don’t want to say anything that can even remotely run the risk of opening them up for a lawsuit. Even if they haven’t done anything wrong, companies can still be sued over hiring decisions.
Another reason an employer might not give feedback is because they’re concerned a candidate may only see it as an opening to argue for their candidacy. IT recruiting firms see this happen relatively often. Candidates can have a hard time taking feedback without arguing for their candidacy. This is so uncomfortable that many employers simply created a blanket rule to never give any feedback.
Additionally, you may not hear why you didn’t land a tech job because the hiring manager simply doesn’t have time to give the feedback. Often in tech, managers are working against release dates and deadlines that move at the speed of technology. Searching for new employees on top of that can leave their plate very full. Some managers simply won’t have time to give a reason why they rejected candidates, particularly if they didn’t make it to the interview stage.
The last reason an employer might not give feedback is because their candidate liaison isn’t technical enough to do it. Sometimes HR will act as liaison with candidates, and they simply don’t have the technical expertise and experience to understand, let alone share with the candidate, why they didn’t land the job.
What can you do if you don’t hear feedback? Can you do anything to try to get feedback? Here are 2 tips.
Start by re-calibrating your expectations. If you go into the job search process expecting feedback from employers, you’re likely to be let down. Especially when you don’t make it to the interview stage, it’s very likely you won’t hear why you were passed on. You may be slightly more likely to get some feedback if you’re working with technical recruiters, although this also isn’t a guarantee, either. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised with feedback rather than upset when you don’t get it!
Remember that feedback may not help you much anyways. IT recruiting agencies find that the reason why candidates don’t land the job isn’t always something they could have improved upon for next time. Perhaps a candidate didn’t land the job because they needed to get more experience with this programming language or that development method. But it’s also possible you didn’t land the job because the company liked another candidate better, decided they wanted to hire somebody with a slightly different skill-set than they initially posted, etc. When you don’t land a job, it doesn’t mean that you failed. You just didn’t land that job. It’s important to keep in mind that you want to land a job that you’re totally qualified for, would reasonably enjoy, and would be able to be successful in right now. If you don’t land a job, consider it a blessing. You’ve been saved from a job that just wasn’t a good fit for you. You don’t need detailed feedback to take comfort in that information.
Sometimes job seekers will come across postings for IT jobs that seem perfect. The employer might offer ideal tech stacks, amazing perks, or remote work options. Candidates will fall in love, declare it’s their dream job, pin their hopes on it, and sometimes focus solely on applying to that job. It’s ok to know what you want, but don’t fall into the ‘Dream Job’ trap. IT recruiters would caution against deciding any tech job is your dream job, just based on a job posting. Here’s why:
1. The job may become different than what is posted. There are a few reasons why IT staffing firms see this happen. A company may change its tech stack, the projects it’s hiring for, or the job description of the role itself. Sometimes these changes occur as a company is interviewing candidates. This means the job you interview for might require different skills than the one you applied to or asked your IT recruiters to submit you to. If you have decided a job is your ‘dream job’ before the interview, you’d be sorely disappointed by this change; you may have even put your job search on hold to focus on this job. Be open to new opportunities, let your technical recruiters submit you for roles, but don’t label any of them your ‘dream job’ until after the interview!
2. You don’t know what the culture of the company and team is like until you interview. While this wasn’t always the case, fitting into the corporate culture is becoming very important in tech roles. With the increasing emphasis on innovation and teamwork, Scrum and Agile are becoming the development methodologies that most tech teams operate on. If you don’t fit into the culture, you won’t be able to do your job well, especially on a Scrum or Agile team. So wait to decide if a job is your ‘dream job’ until after you interview and meet the team. You have to like them as much as the work—if not more!
3. The job description may be the same currently, but technologies or job descriptions could change in the near future. Companies go through development changes all the time, and IT recruiting agencies find that sometimes they’re helping a company hire somebody who must have two sets of skills: one for the current projects, and one for projects the company will be pursuing in the future. Your interviewer may be upfront about this, or you may want to ask some questions yourself. You can ask in the interview if the company plans to adopt any new programming languages, development methods, etc. It’s important that before you decide an IT job is your dream job, you get a sense of what the job is now, and what it will be in the future.