Most of us probably aren’t that good at managing a job search. We only do it if we have to and stop as soon as possible. We don’t receive a lot of feedback during the process, especially since so much of the process is internet-based with few to no interactions in the early stages. Even when we have been contacted by a hiring person and had a phone or personal interview, communication is infrequent. We just don’t know where they are in the hiring process and certainly not what our own chances are. How can we do a better job of getting that job? And, what should we expect during the job search process?
The IAITAM answer to questions like these always begins with knowledge building. There are many good books and web sites out there to support you through the process. Even the big job posting sites offer advice through their own articles and comments on how to get that job. Of course, reading can absorb a great deal of time if you lack a plan, so to get started, consider the following topic areas:
1. The resume. Find out how to write a resume that represents you in a professional manner – nothing silly, with well-presented information and with enough details to show what you have accomplished in those positions. Proofread the document carefully and have someone else read for mistakes as well. Typos and grammatical errors on a resume are great ways to put your resume go in the trash.
Advice on resumes changes over time, so freshen your knowledge and be open to new ideas. Maybe it is okay to have more than two pages. Or, maybe that template out of your word processing software is too cookie-cutter to be effective.
Avoid copying your previous job descriptions into the resume and considering the resume finished. A resume should include results from those actions, not just the description of the duty. It would be ideal to have quantifiable results, but if that isn’t the case, think about what your efforts led to, what the overall benefit was.
2. The process. Is there an application process? You should know that survey results point to the application process getting harder rather than easier in the last five years. To avoid being one of those candidates who give up and never complete the online application process, take some preparatory steps to reduce frustration. Review the online application before starting to answer it if you can so that you have all of the information necessary and organized ahead of time. In addition to having your resume handy, get out the source information that you used to build it. There are many details that may not be on the resume and yet you need them for the application.
In an interview, think more broadly than just about describing yourself. For instance, imagine you were asked: “Why do you want to work at this company?” If you answered that question with reasons describing your own needs (I want to move to Dallas, I need a job, etc.), then you have most likely made a mistake. You haven’t prepared for the interview by researching the company and the work that they do. You need to show them what you would do for them and the answer to this question is a good place to start. What aspects of the company, the work that they do, their reputation as an employer, etc. separates them from other choices? There is much more to be said on the subject of what you can prepare and do during an interview, especially regarding showing them what you would do if you had the position. As a major spokesperson for this approach, see Nick Corcodilos’ work for thought-provoking advice.
3. Your rights. Professional Human Resources people should know better than to ask direct or indirect questions that could reveal discriminatory information such as age, sex and health or whether you took Family Medical Leave (FMLA) or Workers Compensation in the past. (The specific laws and matching rights depend on the country in which you are looking for employment). However, in the later stages of the interview process, you will often talk to IT managers and coworkers who aren’t trained in HR. Be prepared to skirt awkward questions politely. A fellow techie might ask you if you are married without thinking of it as an inappropriate question and you will have a decision to make on how to answer.
Finding a new job is a stressful experience and information is going to help you relax so that you represent yourself appropriately. As a professional association, IAITAM can testify to the value of a professional network during a job search; fellow professionals offer help by identifying opportunities, delivering advice and generating ideas to strengthen your search. Of course, that network is at its best when supporting your work in IT Asset Management, but don’t hesitate to lean on your professional contacts (peers and vendors) while you are executing your search.
A great deal of the job search experience is out of our hands. For instance, no matter how well you communicate with the hiring company during the process, that company may be slow to respond or never respond. It seems crazy since we all network together and share bad company experiences, but some companies really do a poor job when it comes to recruiting good people. The best defense to overcoming this problem and others is for you the candidate to represent yourself as well as possible.