How to Find a Job

I get asked once in a while about how to find a job in the information technology sector. At this point in time there is a mild shortage of application developers and it seems easier to find work. Below is the process I follow and it seems to work fairly well most of the time. The average amount of time to find a new position is between 2-4 weeks depending how fast you get your information together and chase down leads. My longest was seven weeks at the end of 2008 when the economy had crashed. Even then there were scattered IT openings while everyone else was hunting for work.

The information below doesn’t apply to just information technology. Many companies are using recruiters and online job websites to hire for all types of positions.

Making a Resume
The first step is to get your resume put together. You will need three copies. Your master copy will be a plain text version. It can be as long as you want and include job experience that isn’t necessarily related to what you want to do. The plain text version is needed for copying and pasting into the online job search websites.

Then you will take information from that and make a nice looking Microsoft Word version that mostly includes only relevant experience for the type of work you want. The Word version should be three or four pages or less. When that is perfected, you will save a PDF version from Microsoft Word. The PDF version isn’t as likely to be needed but it doesn’t hurt to have it ready to go.

Items to Include
* Your job history ordered most recent to oldest.
* Your specific skills, responsibilities, and any public websites you worked on for each position.
* Jobs where you had leadership experience.
* Jobs where you had related technical experience.
* Jobs where you did unpaid volunteer work for 501(c)3 organizations.
* Your phone number. Definitely don’t forget this! I did once.
* Your email.
* Your city and state.
* A header or footer with your contact information on each page.

Items to Exclude
* References or a note that you have references.
* If you actually get hired, you may need references. Have a list of three to five ready on a separate document.
* Your full home address.
* In your Word version, unrelated job experience.

Sample Resume

Put your resume files online in an easy to find place. If you are a developer, you probably have your own website. Put the resume on there and add a link to the location inside your plain text version.

Your resume will mostly be used online and sent by email to job recruiters. They often will take your resume (Word) and copy and paste the information onto their own letterhead to send to employers. When you show up to interview, you may notice the interviewer holding a modified version. Of course, you should bring printed copies (on nice white paper, not cheap printer paper) to hand out and use as a reference when speaking with them. Bring three to five copies with you because you may be speaking with multiple people at one time.

Always dress up for interviews. Bring a nice leather binder to keep your paperwork inside and buy a decent looking pen. It doesn’t have to be super expensive but not looking like you paid fifty cents for it.

The internet is full of articles on how to interview. That’s beyond the point of this article but it doesn’t hurt to review. Go to Pinterest and search for “job interviews” and you’ll find tons of helpful information.

A Cover Letter
You probably don’t need it. You are applying online, not through the mail. Some people may argue about the necessity of it. I’ve personally never needed one. It’s up to you but it seems like extra work to me.

Why Use Recruiters?
I almost always use recruiters and temp agencies to find work. The vast majority of my lifetime jobs have been found that way. People often say that networking is the best way to find work. Well, unless you are blessed with a ton of people you know in the field you want to work in, recruiters are how you network.

Recruiters get paid by commission and by hiring you out to different companies. If you don’t work, they don’t get paid. Because of that arrangement, they are your best friends in the world.

The companies they work at know where the job openings are and who is hiring. Sometimes they have exclusive job openings not known to other companies because they have working relationships with various employers.

A legitimate recruiter or temp agency will not charge you money to look for a job. It should not cost you a single penny to use their services. They are like using a realtor. When you look for a house to buy, they get a commission from the seller. If a placement service asks you to put money up front to use their services, walk out the door and never talk to them again. It’s a scam.

Temp vs Perm – Things to Consider

Many IT jobs are temp to perm or stay temporary with no specific hire date. That is fine. They usually pay a higher hourly rate than what you will get as a permanent salary. The other side of that coin is you will not always have benefits and will need to find your own health insurance. Some agencies offer benefits such as 401(k) and health plans so it depends.

I worked for a couple companies over the course of a few years and decided to get my own health insurance plan. Because I was paid more, I could do that. There are advantages to that because you won’t lose your plan if you jump jobs frequently.

Setting up Online Resumes
My favorite online job search websites are:

Setup an account on each of those in that order. Enter in all applicable job experience information and if possible, copy and paste your text resume into the fields. That is why you made the plain text version. It should save you a lot of typing.

Always make all online resumes public, not private. After you get a new job, leave them public and update them every six months. Your boss may notice that you did that. The official explanation is that you aren’t looking for a job but you like to document your newly learned skills on a regular basis.

Looking for Compatible Positions
While you are bored from the tedious data entry from setting up your accounts, start doing searches for positions similar to what you want to work. After you finish your profile for that site, go ahead and apply online for them.

If the position isn’t a great match, make a note of who posted the position. Frequently, they are posted by recruiters and their contact information is listed on the page. Start making an excel spreadsheet or similar list of their company names, recruiter name, and contact information. Add them to the list because you are going to contact them to ask if they have work you are interested in that may be a better fit. Their company websites often have list of other job openings. Remember, they want to hear from you because they want to get you hired.

Refining Your Resume
As you search for job openings, look at the job descriptions for requirements such as specific types of software and other experience they are looking for. If you forgot to put some of those on your resume and actually have experience with them, this is a good time to tweak your resume. Yes, you’ll have to go fix it on all the job boards. It’s a good thing because every time you log in to edit something, recruiters will see that you have recent activity and will think to contact you.

Keeping Track of Contacts
As you work through this process, you will start getting calls and possibly interviews. Make an excel spreadsheet with the companies you applied to. If a recruiter submits your name to a company, do not let another recruiter submit you for the same position. Do not let yourself get duplicate submissions or you won’t get the job at all. You won’t even get an interview. So be very organized and keep track of that. Also keep a phone log on the same spreadsheet that tracks when and who you talk to on the phone or email. Keep track of what job openings you talk about.

Studying for Interviews
Get ready to be asked a lot of technical questions. Google “C# programmer interview questions” if you are looking for a Microsoft web developer position. Start brushing up on the basics and the dumb questions like studying for a test. You probably know a lot of this but if you can answer them seamlessly in an interview, you’ll be fine. Don’t panic. For example, knowing the difference between the five scopes in a C# app is almost always asked. Public, private, internal, protected, and protected internal. There are a ton of websites that have commonly asked interview questions.

So I hope this helps as a basic guide to finding a job. It’s a lot of work but with recent technology and with the help of job placement agencies, the process is much easier than it used to be. Good luck.