Our discussion boards are filled with posts from qualified job applicants who either can’t get a foot in the door or advance in their current place of employment. If you’re one of them, here’s something you may want to consider, even if you don’t like the thought: If you rarely snag the second interview or are continuously watching colleagues with less experience get plum assignments, management may not be the problem.
Cathy Northamer, District President of Robert Half Technology, Creative Group in Minneapolis, has seen her share of applicants with job search issues. “There are reasons why someone’s not getting a job,” she says “and it usually starts with their resume.”
A big management complaint is that many applicants don’t tailor their resumes to specific job descriptions. If you’re applying for a .NET Web development position, your resume has to reflect your .NET Web experience. Also, be sure to check spelling and grammar. You think those things are obvious? You’d be surprised how many people get kicked out of the process simply because they didn’t bother with these.
Not researching a company before interviewing will also cost you. “We get folks who just don’t do their homework and our company is pretty easy to find out about,” says John A., a recruiter at an international telecommunications company. “Knowing the company shows initiative.”
Don’t Go Negative
If you don’t get the interview, or if it doesn’t go well, avoid the urge to vent about bad experiences. “We use a lot of behavior-based questions,” says John A., “because the past is a pretty good indicator of the future. If you’re a complainer, you’re basically projecting what will happen if we hire you.” He also emphasizes a graceful response if you don’t get hired. “You’d be surprised how many people get nasty. I don’t keep their resumes on file.”
One thing that’s shocking is how many tech-savvy people aren’t more careful online. “Employers sometimes search for information prior to an interview” Northamer says. “Facebook profiles may be inappropriate, or an applicant may be posting or blogging about things that would be a red flag to management.” In other words, keep it clean and discreet online.
Are you networking?
Both Northamer and John A. suggest using both social networking sites and going to industry meetings. “We take employee referrals very seriously,” says John. “It’s all about networking. If you can get the inside scoop on a company, you can speak specifically to the organization’s needs during an interview.” Adds Northamer: “A lot of jobs aren’t advertised. Read local business journals, network and target companies you want to work for.”
Perhaps most important, remember the dynamic of today’s job market. “In today’s economy, there are a lot of qualified IT applicants looking for employment,” says John A. “We can afford to be choosey.”