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Posts Tagged ‘Tips for IT Job Seekers’

Job Seekers: How YOU Can Stand Out From the Crowd

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

I have been thinking about how candidates can stand out in today’s viral environment. In the 80’s, when I first started looking for a job, we had to have our resumes professionally type set (so it was painful and costly if you had to redo it), and everything had to be done by US mail, now known as “snail mail.”  So candidates did all kinds of things to get noticed by hiring managers; they FedEx’ed their resumes, they sent VHS video introductions, they showed up in Gorilla suits (seriously, I know of this happening). Today, everyone has their every movement captured on YouTube, we share our most intimate moments on Facebook, we have resume templates to follow and with a few keystrokes we can tailor them to whatever job we are applying for, and we can instantly communicate with prospective employers via IM or the Internet.

So back to my pondering; as a candidate how do you stand above the crowd in today’s job market? I think the answer is: you do all the little things excellently. Below is a list of the 5 things you can do every time you are in a job search that will help you stand out from your peers.

  1. Have someone proof read your resume before you send it so there are no typos and/or grammatical errors. Nothings says “I am disorganized and care so little about your job that I did not proofread my resume” like having typos in it.
  2. When sending an email introduction make it concise. The manager will spend about 10 seconds deciding if she/he is going to open your resume or just delete it. Make your words count.
  3. Prepare for the interview, whether on the phone or in person. Research the company, research the people interviewing you, dress professionally regardless of the environment, and for goodness sake, have questions to ask the interviewer(s).
  4. At the end of the interview be sure you ask for the job. Being coy can work when you are dating, but when it comes to getting the job employers want to know that you are engaged and WANT to come to work for them.
  5. Send a thank you note within 24 hours of completing your interview. It can be via email since email is the standard business communication tool, just be sure you send one.

These things may seem simple but you would be surprised how often candidates do not do one or more of them. If you follow the basic principle of doing the small things excellently you will make an impact and you will stand out from your crowd of peers.

Attention 2012 IT Grads: What Your Future IT Manager Wants You to Know

Friday, May 25th, 2012

If you’re a new college grad with an IT degree, you’re probably elated to hear positive statistics from industry media discussing the favorable job market for technology professionals.

However, despite the sunny industry outlook, one important question remains: are employers hiring entry level workers? And if employers are hiring new grads in this competitive market, what are they looking for in entry level candidates?

This CNN Money article cites a few interesting statistics from hiring managers and executives about job preparedness in grads:

  • 65% of business leaders say young people applying for jobs at their companies right out of college are only “somewhat” prepared for success in business.
  • 40% of C-suite executives say they are “not prepared at all.”
  • Almost half (47%) of C-suite executives believe that fewer than one-quarter (21%) of new grads have the skills they’ll need to advance past entry-level jobs.

Although your skills may be in demand and college graduates with technical degrees can expect a better job outlook than most others, hiring managers aren’t going to be knocking down your door without you understanding a few things first. Here are four recommendations designed to improve your chances of getting hired as an entry-level professional in today’s market.

Get Critical On the Job Experience
Are you coming to the table with an internship or other hands-on resume experience? Although a degree is valuable, technical college grads today are expected to have some experience in the field. If you don’t have an internship, here are ways to get some real-world experience:

  • Start connecting with alumni as a referral source. There are plenty of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media online gathering places dedicated to alumni that you can join and participate in.
  • Joyce Gioia, president of the Herman Group, a human resource consulting firm based in Greensboro, N.C., recommends that “grads with limited business experience or coursework need to close knowledge gaps and alter their job hunting strategy in order to become the candidate of choice.” Goia advises students and grads to find mentors during internships, enroll in business courses at community colleges, listed to TED lectures, take free online courses, and offer to work at local businesses for free.

Keep up with Market Trends
What are your plans for staying up to date with emerging technologies? Although you just graduated and additional education may be the last thing you want to pursue, it’s important you keep up with market trends. There may have been gaps in your school’s curriculum. Or, what you learned in class may already be obsolete. Gain new skills to expand your knowledge base by attending industry association monthly educational programs, following industry leaders online, and subscribing regularly to magazine or industry publications in print or online.

Demonstrate Your Aptitude for Teamwork and Leadership
In today’s competitive market, it’s important to demonstrate your capabilities in both leadership and teamwork roles. Andrea Koncz, employment information manager for the NACE, reports in this Chicago Tribune article that one of the best ways to demonstrate leadership skills is by describing successes in extracurricular activities or industry-related organizations.

You must also how your aptitude for teamwork and communication. Although most young professionals spend a significant time on Facebook, Twitter, and other online communities, IT leaders report that this generation isn’t necessarily skilled at collaborating with others in the workplace.

Be a Problem Solver
IT managers don’t want a “yes” person who will look to them for guidance every step of the way. They want employees who will be creative, who will contribute, and who will look for solutions to problems. According to Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, “Twenty years ago, there was more of a command-and-control environment. People didn’t volunteer themselves or jump into projects as much.” Today, IT managers want more.

C-suite executives and senior managers report that the most sought-after skills they’re looking for in new grads are problem-solving (49% ranked it No. 1), collaboration (43%), and critical thinking (36%). Also in demand is the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively in writing (31%).

Understand where your weaknesses are, implement these recommendations, and get ready to prove to hiring managers that you’re the man (or woman) for the job.

Photo courtesy of Jason Bache

IT jobs, top IT talent and IT org charts – is there a connection?

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Since the July 4th weekend is upon us, we realize this is an opportune time to relax, catch up with family and friends, enjoy life and be thankful for everything our wonderful country offers.

This holiday weekend is also a good time to reflect about your professional career – where you are, where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there. If you’re an IT professional thinking about a career move, put down that novel you’re  reading on your iPad, Kindle or Nook  and take an hour to read Agile’s ebook: The IT Professional’s No-Nonsense Guide to Getting a Job in the New IT.  It’s a quick read and chock full of tips and advice on everything you need to know before you begin your job search. Download our free ebook now.

If you’re an IT executive or hiring manager wondering where all the top talent is and how you’re going to fill that open position you’ve been looking to fill for what seems like forever, we suggest taking 15 minutes this weekend to read our white paper “Four Winning Talent Strategies for the New IT”.  This paper provides practical approaches to hiring and retaining top IT talent. You can download our free white paper by clicking here.

We thought we’d end this week with these company org charts.  Perhaps they’re a bit exaggerated, but they’ll make you giggle.  If you had to create your company’s org chart, would it look similar to any of these?  Let’s hope not!

Successful IT job search requires effective use of social media and interpersonal skills

Friday, May 20th, 2011

This week a few staff members at Agile attended WIT’s monthly forum: “OMG, Can U Succeed with a Social Network Vocabularly? The Impact of Social Media on our Interpersonal Skills.” The panel of experts – Moira Vetter, co-founder of Modo Modo Agency; Jessica Rodbell, Head of Industry at Google; Diana Keough, CEO, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of ShareWIK Media Group; and Elizabeth Mashakas, Director of Recruiting at Orbital Sciences Corporation – provided timely and insightful dialogue about the increasing use of social media within the corporate world and its effect on interpersonal skills in the workplace.

Social media has permeated corporate America, and it’s not going away that’s for sure. That’s both good news and bad news for IT job seekers and companies looking for top talent. It’s good news because the power of social media lies in its ability to connect many people who share something in common.  Social media also provides access to personal information that wasn’t so readily (or publicly) available in the past. For example, social media now gives technical recruiters access to an ocean of new candidates’ professional and personal information. This data enables recruiters to qualify people — and this is where the fine line between good and bad can be drawn – and in many cases, make assumptions about those people (which can be used to further the qualification or disqualification process of potential candidates).

But the overwhelming concern about social media communicated by the speakers at WIT’s forum, is its propensity to diminish interpersonal skills. Social media has a way of enabling people to hide from human interaction. As social media becomes more pervasive in the workplace, people are depending less on their personal skills to communicate and interact with others. Although social media is connecting more and more people, this connection can be (sadly) impersonal. And it’s the personal connection that is key to both finding a job and succeeding in business. Sorry folks, social media may help in the job search, but it will NOT get you the job.

It was either a fluke or somewhat of a coincidence that the same day of the forum, we happened upon an article on titled “How to find a job in 2011.”  The gist of the feature is that social media is important in the job search, but face-to-face connections and interactions are required to further a job seeker’s chance of getting hired. Author and career coach, Ford Myers, states “Social media tools should be used to make real connections, not just virtual ones. Tons of people use social media all day long and they are communicating with tons of people but they’re not connecting with anybody. Build the relationship from there so it becomes a real world relationship.”

So how do you build relationships and strengthen your interpersonal skills? It’s not as difficult as you may think – it’s even, dare we say, quite human!  Below are 10 tips for good interpersonal skills. Use them along with social media during your job search (and beyond), and success shouldn’t be too far behind.

  1. Listen first.  Communication is a two-way process. Getting your message across depends on understanding the other person.
  2. Be interested in the people you are communicating with. Remember, people are more attracted to those who are interested in them, and will pay more attention to what they are saying.
  3. Pay close attention to your body language.  This and the tone of your voice have a lot to do with how people feel about you. Think before you speak!
  4. Smile and use eye contact. It’s the most positive signal you can give another human being.
  5. Ask questions. It’s a great way to show people that you are really interested in them.
  6. Communicate clearly.  Pay close attention to both what you say and how you say it. A clear and effective comminicator avoids misunderstands with coworkers, colleagues and associates.
  7. Use humor to make other’s laugh. Use your sense of humor as an effective tool to lower barriers and gain people’s affection.
  8. Be empathetic.  Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel. Try to view situations and responses from another person’s perspective.
  9. Practice is everything. Just as with all other things, mastering your interpersonal skills takes time and practice. Try out effective techniques and role play with close friends and family.
  10. Learn from your interactions. If you had a really good conversation with someone, try and think why it went well and remember the key points for future interactions. If it didn’t go well – learn from it and move on.

In order for your IT job search to be successful, you must have an effective social media strategy. If you haven’t done so already, or believe your social media strategy could use some help, we suggest you start here. Along with social media, you should have a customized resume that will “wow” the recruiter and hiring manager. This is when your interpersonal skills will be tested. You can get an interview with the right social media strategy and resume, but if your interpersonal skills are lacking during the hiring process, you may have a hard time getting an actual job offer.

Will your next IT job be a good fit? Consider the company’s culture

Friday, May 13th, 2011

In a recent blog, we wrote about salary and benefits requirements for IT job seekers – and why candidates need to know everything they want (compensation) before starting the interview process with potential employers. Salary and benefits are key factors when determining whether a job is the right one for you. But there’s one other component in the decision-making process that is very important, and often overlooked, during the job hunt.  While people tend to fixate on the total compensation package, they sometimes forget to ask “is the company’s culture the right fit for me?”

How many of us have taken a job because we were tantalized with the incredible package the company was offering? I’ve been sucked in before. I remember back in the late 90’s being courted by a large telecom company – the job would certainly fast track my career, and the salary and benefits were unreal. I liked the job and employer I was working for at the time – it was a great company with a culture that I really fit into.  But the title, money and benefits the courting company was throwing at me just seemed too good to pass up.  I accepted their offer. And to this day, I regret that decision.  The day I started the job with my new employer, I knew it wasn’t going to work out.  The work environment was stuffy and stifling. Co-workers were always looking out for number one. I felt isolated. I was there for two years but it seemed like eternity.

You see, I forgot to ask about what the culture at this large corporation was like, and how I was going to fit into it. I interviewed with a fellow I had worked with before – he was my manager at a previous employer.  I figured “it must be cool if he’s here.”  NOT.  Shortly after I came on board with the new employer, the manager who hired me (and who I had worked with before) bolted. He forgot to tell me during the interview process that the company’s culture was hierarchical, bureaucratic, and very political.  Not a good fit for me, as my style is less formal and much more entrepreneurial.  I should have done my due diligence and researched the company’s culture. I should have asked the employees I interviewed with how the culture compared to that of my current employer.  But this was the ‘90s and dollar signs were dancing around in my head. I put culture on the back burner. 

 A hard lesson learned. But I’ll never make the same mistake. Yes, money and benefits matter. But so does a company’s culture. Remember, you’ll be working there 40, 50, 60 hours or more a week. You’ll have new processes to follow, new management styles to contend with, and new co-workers that you’ll have to get along with (or try to anyway). And if you’re not comfortable with any of these, you may be starting a new job on the wrong foot – and most likely, it won’t get any better.

Some can argue, like me for example, that company culture is as equally important as the compensation package. Salary and benefits matter to me. But so do the people I surround myself with five days out of the week. The staff at Agile is a diverse group of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences.  They are all professional. They are hard working. Delivering exceptional service to clients is what drives all of us.  Oh, and everyone at Agile is nice, and respectful of others. They are also involved in their communities and give back in many ways.

This past week, I had the pleasure of joining my fellow co-workers at the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure. Everyone took time out of their busy weekend schedules to support a cause that is so important to our CEO, Tricia Dempsey, an eight year breast cancer survivor.  And everyone participated, not because we had to, but because we wanted to. 

Last evening, our staff celebrated with clients, consultants and partners in honor of their support of our company over the past year. It was one of the nicest corporate events I have attended – and I’ve attended many over the past 20+ years.  Why?  Everyone was personable, friendly and genuine.  And those traits are important to me – both inside and outside of work. The values and culture at Agile fit my personal values and needs.  And that’s why I love working here.

Don’t underestimate the value of a company’s culture.  Money may pay the bills and buy you a deluxe apartment in the sky, but as the old adage goes – it doesn’t guarantee happiness. And who wants to spend half their day (at work) being miserable? Not me!