The IT job market is full of open positions and qualified applicants. It’s tough to find the right opportunity and stand out among the competition, but these tips will help you maximize your time and get you closer to that elusive offer letter.
Take time to prepare for your IT job search.
First thing first: make sure your resume is up-to-date, accurate, and accomplishment-focused. Don’t forget to include your group affiliations, awards, and certifications. Remove any out-of-date skills and positions that aren’t relevant to what you’re shooting for in your next role. If applicable, update your profiles on StackOverflow and CodeProject, and update your personal website.
Take some time for self-reflection. This is your opportunity to reflect on what you value in a job, what you’re passionate about, and what kind of work gives you a sense of satisfaction. Do you want to pursue a business management path in IT, or gain a deeper technical specialization?
Know where to look for IT jobs.
In this competitive market, taking a far-reaching approach to job searching will serve you well. Try smart, specific searches on job sites and networks like LinkedIn, Indeed, and CareerBuilder. Use filters to get closer to what you want.
Industry-specific sites can be helpful. Dice.com is geared specifically for job hunters looking for careers in programming and IT, while icrunchdata has a big data and analytics focus. TechCareers lists thousands of tech and engineering jobs, while AngelList is great if you’re seeking a job at a startup.
Opinions vary about using recruiting firms to secure a job, but professional recruiters can be great for help getting your foot in the door, as well as in finding roles and securing interviews.
Be smart about scheduling and organization.
As you begin applying for jobs, the details can quickly get overwhelming if you don’t stay organized.
Be sure to track:
- Where and when you applied;
- A link to the job description;
- Any contacts or referrals you have within the company;
- When and how you plan to follow up; and
- Any other notes.
Use a calendar to keep track of calls, interviews, and to create reminders to yourself to follow up.
Also, use a consistent file naming strategy for your resumes and cover letters. You should be creating a new version of each, targeted to the specific company, so your files will quickly proliferate. Make sure to include your name in the file and in the file name!
Make personal connections to stand out.
Employers and interviewers love referrals and “warm contacts.” Career experts say that you should spend the majority of your job search doing the hard work of networking and making personal connections, more so than actually applying for jobs.
LinkedIn can help you make personal connections that get your application to the top of the proverbial stack. If you have the name of the job poster, you can look up that individual’s profile and send a personal note expressing your interest in the role.
You can also view your second and third degree LinkedIn connections at the company, and reach out to ask some questions or even for an informational interview. These conversations can sometimes even lead to referrals.
Research and rehearse for the interview.
Once you’ve gotten an invitation to interview, take some time to learn more about the organization and, if possible, your interviewers. You’ll need to be prepared to answer any question like, “tell us what you know about the company.”
Interviews can be challenging for even the most well-spoken extroverts. Like everything else in the job search, preparation is key. Be ready to show your expertise in answering technical questions, but keep in mind that the interview is an opportunity for the employer to evaluate your soft skills too. Search for common IT interview questions and practice your responses. Be as specific as possible.
Make sure you have some questions to ask, as well. If you don’t come with questions of your own, you may look disinterested or unprepared. Asking questions helps you evaluate whether or not the job is a good fit for you too. Consider asking questions like, “how would you describe company culture?” Or, “what kind of skills do you need to be successful in this role?”
Job hunting isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. With the right preparation, a savvy search, and a human touch, you’ll be well on your way to securing your next great role.
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