Job Searching in Information Technology

 

employment

Technology and the growing complexity of businesses have expanded the need for employees who can analyze, design, and manage information.  Skills for evaluating data, the ability to work with people, and clear communication are companion components for careers in information technology systems.  Employment opportunities for technically and professionally trained persons are outstanding in this emerging career path.  After mastering basic technology skills, students can select one of many specializations in the field of technology.

 

Where to Look

link to www.careerbuilder.com Link to www.dice.com Link to www.monster.com

 

You, on paper

While an excellent resume and cover letter cannot guarantee you a job, poorly written job search materials can take you out of the running altogether.   These documents give prospective employers their critical first impression of you.   Just one typo can eliminate you as a job candidate!  Whether you're sending your resume electronically or by regular mail, customizing it for each prospective employer, proofreading carefully and keeping it updated are good investments in landing the technology job you want. 

Cover Letter

The  cover letter  is usually the first thing the hiring manager sees, and is one of the best tools
to make a positive first impression. 

The following tips can help you make sure you convey the right messages:

  • Tailor the cover letter specifically to the job opening and company. 
         Research the firm and the industry through the Internet, trade publications and the library. 
         Within the letter, demonstrate your knowledge of the field and the position's requirements, 
         and explain why your background meets the organization's needs. 

  • Be careful not to rehash your resume in the cover letter. 
         Instead, focus on key aspects of your background that relate directly to the job opportunity. 

  • Address the letter to the person hiring for the position. 
         Verify and double-check the spelling of the name and the person's title.

In order to capture the attention of employers and recruiters today, your resume must do more than simply list your job skills and accomplishments. 

Resume

A growing number of companies are electronically scanning resumes for certain keywords to determine which candidates they will contact for the next phase of the hiring process. Sometimes resumes are screened by people who don't have the technical background that your prospective manager has.  These tips can help ensure your resume makes it past the initial screening phase and into the hands of a hiring manager. 

Tailor your resume

Here are some things to keep in mind if you want potential employers to really notice your resume.

  • Tailor your resume for each position by highlighting technical qualifications that match specific job requirements, in roughly the same order that they appear in the job posting.
  • Be honest and resist the temptation to embellish your resume with skills you don't really have.
  • Put your skills in context.  Don't just say you know something, explain how you've used it to help give prospective employers a better idea of how well you know it.
  • Emphasize any certifications or advanced training.
  • Highlight ways in which you improved productivity, reduced costs, increased efficiency, or otherwise impacted the bottom line.
  • Clearly show areas where you have been given increased responsibility for a job well done.
  • Note special recognition, awards or participation in relevant trade or professional organizations.
  • Update your resume to list recent accomplishment. Keep your references up to date.
  • Revise your resume after every position or consulting engagement.

Keywords

How can you increase the chances of your resume being noticed by a hiring manager or recruiter?  Be sure it contains appropriate keywords that will increase the amount of "hits" it receives during an electronic search. 

Here are some tips for creating a winning resume:

  • Read the job description to determine which keywords to include.   Use the same keywords consistently throughout your resume.
  • Summarize specific technologies such as programming languages, databases, operating environments and hardware at the top of your resume.
  • Include phrases that link to specific job responsibilities, such as "help desk," "data modeling," "web development" and "system administration."

Formatting for Uploading and Scanning

When submitting your resume to a potential employer, it's absolutely critical to save it in a format that can be easily read by the company's computer system.   If possible, enclose your resume as text within your e-mail message and include the title of the position you seek in the subject line. 

Here are some other ways to increase the chances of your resume being received and reviewed successfully.

  • Sending an ASCII version
    • Use plain text format with no formatting.
    • Avoid using bullets, underlines, bold or italics [Suitable ASCII characters would be dashes (-), asterisks (*) and arrows (>)]
    • Convert the text to 10-point Courier or other fixed-width font.
    • Set the page width to 4-3/4".
    • Limit line lengths to 80 characters or less.
  • Sending an RTF file attachment
    • Contact recipients to find out which word processing software they use, then send your resume in the same program if possible. When in doubt, send an ASCII file.
    • Formats such as bold and bullets will be saved in an RTF file.
  • How to Format for Employers Who Scan Hard-copy Resumes
    • Mail an original copy without folds or staples. A faxed resume may not scan.
    • Left justify the entire document.
    • Avoid graphics, italics, underlining, bold and shading.
    • Parenthesis, brackets, horizontal or vertical lines will not scan properly.
    • Do not use compressed lines of print.
    • Use a sans serif font in size 10-14.

Interviewing

You could have the best resume on the internet and be a perfect match for skills and experience and still not get the job.  Too many good candidates get rejection letters instead of job offers because they didn't present themselves well in the interview.  The interview is the employers way of evaluating your "soft skills" and deciding if you'll fit in with the other employees in the company.

Be Prepared

You wouldn't take an important test without studying beforehand.   Likewise, you should never go into an interview without advance preparation.   Learn pertinent facts about the company, such as annual sales revenue, principal lines of business and technologies used.  Visit the company's web site to review its annual report and recent press releases. 

Below are some questions typically asked during an interview.   By rehearsing your answers, you'll be more relaxed during the interview and appear more confident and professional.  Just be careful not to sound over rehearsed.   Your responses should come naturally.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Tell me about your background and accomplishments.
  • What are your strengths?  Weaknesses?
  • How would you describe your most recent job performance?
  • How do you stay current professionally?
  • What outside activities are most significant to your personal development?

You should also prepare a list of questions of your own to ask during the interview.   These will help the hiring manager to evaluate your professional needs and determine whether your working relationship will be mutually rewarding.   It's also your chance to show you have done your homework. 

Here are some questions you might ask:

  • What would I be expected to accomplish in this assignment?
  • What is the current status of the project?
  • What are the greatest challenges in this position
  • How do you think I fit the assignment?

Successful Interviewing

Your primary goal during an interview is to sell yourself for the position.   Follow the interviewer's lead, but try to get him or her to describe the job and its duties as soon as possible.  That way you'll know how to best present your background, skills and accomplishments.  Stress your achievements in a factual, sincere manner, and remember that showing genuine enthusiasm for the job can boost your chances of being further considered for the position. 

Here are some important "Dos and Don'ts" of successful interviewing.

DO

  • Arrive on time.
  • Greet the interviewer by name.
  • Smile and shake hands firmly.
  • Look alert and interested at all times.
  • Speak firmly, clearly and loudly enough to be easily understood.
  • Look the interviewer in the eye while speaking.
  • Structure your comments in a positive manner.

 

DON'T

  • Be overbearing, overaggressive or egotistical.
  • Show a lack of interest or enthusiasm about the position or company.
  • Appear excessively nervous.
  • Talk about salaries or pay rates.
  • Make excuses for unfavorable factors in your work history.
  • Disparage past employers, managers, projects or technologies.
  • Answer only "yes" or "no" to questions.

Closing the Interview

If you are interested in the position, let the interviewer know.   If you feel the position is attractive and you want it, be a good salesperson and say something such as: "I'm very impressed with what I've seen here today: your company, its products and the people I've met.   I am confident I could do an excellent job in the position you've described to me."   The interviewer will be impressed with your enthusiasm. 

Ask the interviewer, "Are there any more questions you have about my qualifications?"   This is your opportunity to readdress any objections before you leave.   Otherwise you probably won't get another chance. 

Keep a positive attitude.   Thank the interviewer for his or her time and consideration.   If you have answered the two questions - "Why are you interested in this position?" and "What can you offer?" - you have done all you can.

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