The Information Technology (IT) job market can be very competitive. If you are searching for a new IT job, make sure you are doing all you can to present your very best case to prospective employers. These job search tips are offered to help you find a new job fast. Even more importantly, they will help you find your preferred job.

Networking for Opportunities

Those who rely solely on finding a job by replying to posted openings on professional job boards are going after the same opportunities as countless others. The process is not only time-consuming, but it offers no way to differentiate your skills from any other applicant who responds.

The biggest advice career management professionals offer is to network; meet and interact with others to share information. By attending networking events and user groups, you will meet other IT professionals who will be talking about what resources their company is looking for and the opportunities they are looking to fill. Follow up happens, relationships develop, and people get hired.

“A resume with no face or personality attached to it is not going to get a call for an interview,” said Bill Courtney, Director of Recruiting at TDK Technologies (TDK).

For example, many companies will post jobs internally first. If there are no internal candidates, they begin a long process of looking at hundreds of resumes, building a pool of candidates, screening them and then picking one. But if the company already knows of someone through networking, they can save a lot of time and effort.

“Networking can eliminate some of those process steps. It’s all about who you know and the contacts you make,” Courtney said. “You learn there is at least a certain ROI for you, because you’ve already talked with someone and know they have a need. So when you apply, perhaps the connection you made through networking can mention your name to HR.”

“Networking is huge,” said TDK Technical Recruiter Colette Dodson. “Not only does it get your name out there, but networking gives you a sense of what companies are doing. By talking to people, you can get a better idea of what’s going on behind the scenes.”

The Important Role of LinkedIn

LinkedIn has emerged as the primary social network for business and is the number one tool for professional networking. Hiring managers and recruiters find the network invaluable for learning about prospective applicants. Some best practices for using LinkedIn include:

  • Complete your LinkedIn profile in ways that go beyond your resume
    • Optimize your profile for search engines with key terms meaningful to your job search
      • Include those terms in your headline and summary
    • Show work examples
    • Use media to showcase projects
    • Include recommendations for your skills and expertise
  • Actively engage your LinkedIn network
    • Increase the number of connections in your network
    • Read and comment on posts that are relevant to your profession to show thought leadership
    • Join and participate in LinkedIn groups related to your area of expertise

“A network is a living thing. Read posts, comment and ask questions so you stay fresh in their minds. That way you can further your career, make inroads into companies and maybe get access to jobs that are not posted at the moment,” Courtney said.

The image you present is important. And part of that is what you share on social media. So make sure the material posted is profession-specific. Avoid posting items that are highly opinionated, politically charged or that can be off-putting to others. Remember: You are what you write.

“LinkedIn is a great way to expand your network without actively seeking new opportunities,” Dodson said.

Review and Update Your Resume

Even with networking and social media, you still need an effective resume, which contains everything hiring managers want to see. That includes professional headings and structure, accomplishments showcasing relevant skills, and experience all contained in a customized document for the specific position at hand.

“We’ve had hiring managers tell us they will grade a resume for grammar and punctuation. If you have two people with the same skill set, but one has a professional resume and the other has one that’s less professional, the one with the professional resume will get called for the interview every single time,” Courtney said.

You can find more details here - How to Write a Resume.

Interviews

Those in the job market should also spend some time reviewing interview best practices. That includes how to ask the right questions, how to avoid asking the wrong questions, how to sell yourself and how to close an interview.

“Most important is to be yourself, know your resume and be able to speak to your accomplishments,” Dodson said. “I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t get nervous during an interview. So showing up late or being rushed only increases that. Being early gives you a chance to regroup before meeting with people you don’t know.” 

The interview is an opportunity to talk about your activities, experience and accomplishments. Share the things you do to develop your skills. Be sure you can impress your interviewers with past experience, accomplishments, and successes. Remember, you’re selling yourself to a potential buyer of your skills and talents.

“If you have a specific set of skills, but want to move into a role that needs skills that you don’t have, you need to extrapolate. What are the skills I have and how can I sell those skills to a person who is looking for someone who has more than I bring to the table? Can I grow into this position?” Courtney said.

But the interview is also an opportunity to see if the employer is right for you.

“A big thing that can help calm nerves is to know that it is not a one-sided conversation. It’s definitely your opportunity to see if it’s a fit. And if it’s not, that’s OK,” Dodson said.

Other interview focus areas include:

  • Continuous professional and personal development: Technology is a dynamic field and changes daily. Staying current on technology skills is important to potential employers. Mention all your personal and professional development initiatives during interviews.
  • Create a narrative about your leadership capability: Leadership doesn't always mean managing people. Sometimes it can be leading a project as a project manager, participating in a nonprofit volunteer opportunity, or getting involved on committees of trade organizations. Let employers know about your activity and leadership.
  • Show excitement, enthusiasm and passion: Passionate workers make better employees. Enthusiastic job applicants take more of an interest in a company, are conscientious about their performance, and genuinely care about a company’s success. Show it in your mannerisms, your voice, and actions. Employers can detect excitement about the position during the interview.
  • Know what you want: Don't state that you will take any and all jobs available. This is a sign of desperation. Employers don't hire desperate people. Make a list of your interests, goals and related jobs that might fit those, and be prepared to discuss them. It’s okay to define an initial preference. Sometimes positions evolve when matching candidates and opportunities.

“A lot of companies are using phone screens before in-person interviews, so it’s important to know how to present yourself over the phone. Most communication between two people is non-verbal. It’s important to know how to sell yourself over the phone when someone can’t look you in the eye or see body language,” Courtney said.

“Interviewing isn’t something people do on a daily basis. Practice interviews might seem silly. But even if you’ve gone through 100 interviews, if you haven’t interviewed for a while you can be a bit rusty,” Dodson said.

These are just a few tips that can help form a good foundation and formula to acquire the IT job of your choice. There are more resources available at Careers

Situation assessment – Through business vision and IT experience.