6 IT Job Hunting Dos & Don'ts - InformationWeek

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12/4/2014
08:06 AM
Ellis Booker
Ellis Booker
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6 IT Job Hunting Dos & Don'ts

Don't flub your job application in the still-competitive IT job market. Pay attention to these resume and interview nuances.
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(Image: hobvias sudoneighm on Flickr)
(Image: hobvias sudoneighm on Flickr)

Jobs in IT have been a relative bright spot in the recovering US economy.

US employment numbers for October 2014 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals a net increase of 12,900 IT jobs across four industry job segments commonly associated with technology professionals, according to an analysis earlier this month by Foote Partners.

The October result, although significantly lower than the 22,700 jobs added in September, was still "greater than the 11,392 average monthly gain for year-to-date 2014 and the 10,708 average monthly IT job growth for calendar year 2013," Foote noted.

With around half of employers reporting difficulty filling IT-related job posts, the power would seem to be on the side of IT job-seekers.

But if you're looking for that next dream job, don't snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by making a boneheaded mistake along the way.

For example, simply having up-to-date IT skills, while crucially important, doesn't guarantee success. Equally important to employers are abilities in collaboration, communication, and work ethos.

Employers want new hires who can work on teams, lead, solve problems decisively, and prioritize work, according to the results of a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), a nonprofit group that links college career placement offices with employers.

"Further evidence that having leadership skills can make or break a hiring decision is that when employers are forced to choose between two equally qualified candidates, they will choose the one with leadership skills over the other," NACE's survey of 260 employers found.

Another mistake: Not periodically reviewing your social media history and carefully thinking how these public posts, photos, and videos will be perceived by potential employers.

HR professionals, like their counterparts in the legal department, tend to be a risk-averse bunch, and many are quick to nix job candidates with racy or otherwise "problematic" social media trails. An appearance of impropriety might be enough to shove your resume to the bottom of the pile, causing you to lose out to other candidates.

We can debate the logic of this hiring philosophy -- aren’t job seekers and employers better served by transparency and truth in the long run? -- but it remains a stubborn fact of life. So monitor your social media, and have a convincing explanation about that beach photo of you in Cancun if the interviewer should ask about it.

Speaking of that face-to-face job interview, don’t forget to practice.

For every half hour of interview, you should have four hours of preparation, Erin Setzen, an HR executive in Chicago, told InformationWeek. This practice, which can be conducted with a friend and possibly videotaped and reviewed, will keep you from rambling or drifting into dangerous waters, such as complaining about an old employer or boss.

In other words, anything you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd, even something as simple as knowing how to highlight your skills in a cover letter, could mean the difference between getting a job and being passed over. Click through our slideshow for six crucial job search dos and don'ts.

Got your own past resume goofs or job interview flubs? Or brilliant job search tactics or interview performances you would like to share? Leave a comment.

Ellis Booker has held senior editorial posts at a number of A-list IT publications, including UBM's InternetWeek, Mecklermedia's Web Week, and IDG's Computerworld. At Computerworld, he led Internet and electronic commerce coverage in the early days of the web and was ... View Full Bio

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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
12/4/2014 | 12:37:41 PM
Join Toastmasters
I recommend Toastmasters to anyone looking for a job or thinking they might someday have to look for another job. Besides being a professional networking opportunity, it's relatively inexpensive training / education on a key professional skill, public speaking.

Even if you don't expect to be spending much time up in front of a group of people making sales pitches and presentations, practicing impromptu speaking is good preparation for a job interview. It teaches you to think on your feet and more skillfully change the subject when you get a question you don't have a good answer for.
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