Job Search Tactics for the New IT Professional
So you enrolled in Computer Science at your college or technical school. Not too long ago that was a wise decision. After all, we had all read for years about the high salaries computer professionals were making. And if you had that coveted certification, well, life would be just grand.
Now you’ve graduated and face the worst job market for IT professionals in decades. Where 5 years ago you could get a job just by spelling MCSE, now you’re competing with out-of-work IT pros with 3-5 years experience. What to do?
Don’t panic, there are still jobs out there, you just have to be creative in finding them. Although you should post your resume on the web (make sure you set up Search Agents), don’t bet on getting a job that way. Employers are receiving anywhere from 400 to 2,000 resumes for open positions and you’ll be in the midst of a fierce competition you probably won’t win. On top of that, the Internet only produces about a 2-3% effectiveness rate in finding a job, even for experienced IT professionals.
The first thing you have to do is figure out why an employer should hire you. Don’t bank on things like “I’m a hard worker” since I never met anyone who said otherwise. It has to be something tangible that can be backed up with proof. If you are a career-changer, this is where your resume should show off the skills you demonstrated in previous non-IT related fields. Was your productivity high? Did you exhibit strong customer service skills? Were you good at training? Did you supervise staff and ensure things were done correctly? All these and more should be highlighted as added skills you bring to the table. As much as possible, back them up with quantifiable accomplishments: “Supervised staff of 8, oversaw up to 5 concurrent projects and always delivered results on time”.
If you don’t have a lot of prior work experience the best route for you is an intern position. You’ll have to compete on price to get in the door and then, once you’re in, show them what you can do and get promoted. After all, a $20,000 job that gives you experience and hones your skills is better than being unemployed and letting those newly acquired skills go to waste.
How does the new IT Professional find a job? Once you’ve crafted a great resume that makes you stand out, the approach is not very different from the way any savvy job seeker would find a position. Present yourself directly to hiring managers. Remember, 87% of all open jobs are not advertised. That means that they will probably be filled either through headhunters or referrals. And for IT jobs, unless they are at the highest levels, few firms are willing to pay a 20% headhunter fee to find someone they can easily find for free. So that leaves you with contacting employers directly.
Put together a GREAT cover letter with your compelling offer in it, find out the name of the person you wish to interview with (not HR) and send them your cover letter and resume. And then, MOST IMPORTANTLY, call them a few days later to ASK FOR AN INTERVIEW. Be ready with a great pitch that summarizes what you can bring to them and whatever you do, don’t say, “Hi this is Don Jones, I recently sent you my resume and I’m just following up to see if you got it”. Better to say something like, “Hi, this is Don Jones, the recent MCSE who will work for peanuts to get his foot in the door”. Remember, people hire people they like, so be friendly, professional and try to strike up a conversation. And if they don’t have an opening, ask “Do you know anyone else who might need a go-getter like me?”. It never hurts to network.
Remember, this is a numbers game. Sure there are 500,000 less IT jobs than there used to be. But there are still 500,000 open IT jobs and you only need 1. With determination, you’ll get it!
Good project managers are in demand, but the competition is tougher than ever. Showcase the skills you offer potential employers and you will be the one getting the calls.