This document is intended to serve as a resource for people looking for employment in the tech industry. It is no guarantee, but it may help you maximize your chances of getting a job or at the least, provide reassurance that you are moving in the right direction.
- Before You Begin
- Researching Tech Jobs
- The Job Boards
- Preparing Your Resume
- Sending Your Resume
- Phone Interviews
- Face to Face Interviews
Before You Begin:
Job hunting is as much work as the job you'll get. Put time and effort into your search -- you'll find it pays off tenfold.
Before you begin looking, figure out what job you want. It may not be the one you end up getting -- life is change, after all -- but it will give you something to shoot for, as well as providing some criteria that will help you distinguish between a multitude of job listings. Think about where you would like to be, geographically, and what technologies you would like to work with. What sort of atmosphere do you want: the self directed unconventional start-up with long hours but lots of freedom? Or the more regimented, well established large company with good benefits but more rules?
Make a list of contacts in the tech industry -- friends and family members who might be able to steer you towards available jobs. Don't be afraid to drop them a polite email letting them know you're looking, and asking if they know of any potential openings -- or even of people who they know who might be willing to talk to you. Learn to network -- and not in the technical sense.
Researching Tech Jobs:
Find the companies you like, and look at their websites. Most, if not all, will have an employment section, listing opportunities there. If it's a company you know you'd like to work at, send them your resume even if there's no opening there -- they may know of others, or have an idea how your resume might fit one of the listings.
Take a look at some job boards (covered in the next section) and get a feel for what sort of salary people with your skill set usually receive -- and how it varies from one region to another. Look at job descriptions -- are there skills they ask for that you have, but have omitted from your resume? Use the listings to help you identify what sort of job you're looking for -- what sounds appealing, and what doesn't?
If you know people in the tech industry, they're your greatest resource, so use them! Ask them about their company, or their opinion of the companies you're looking at. Find out who they know, where, and ask them to pass a resume along when it's appropriate. Be polite and thankful - no one likes being taken for granted.
The Job Boards:There's a lot of job boards out there. Lots. Here's a list of some of the ones I've found particularly useful. It's not intended to be a comprehensive list -- for that, I'd try one of the major search engines, but you'll run into the possible trap of spending all your time looking, rather than applying.
Computerjobs.com Easy to search by geographical area, salary surveys, etc. Headhunter.com Monitored by lots of recruiters, large database of job listings, well worth posting a resume on. Monster.com One of the larger sites, lots of exposure here.
Preparing Your Resume:
Spend time on your resume. Don't count on interviewing well -- it's the resume that will get you in the door in the first place. A careless resume full of typos leaves a bad impression that's hard to overcome. If you have a friend that's a good copyeditor, bless them, buy them pizza and get them to go over your resume. At the top include your name and contact information, in the same font as the rest of the resume. Resist the impulse to jazz up your resume with combinations of fonts, sizes and styles -- the information, neatly presented, is all a person wants.
Don't misrepresent yourself on your resume and make claims to experience or skills you don't have. If a recruiter reworks your resume, ask to see a copy of the reworked version, and make sure they haven't inadvertently misrepresented you. Claiming skills you don't have is a sure way to create an embarassing and fruitless interview. On the other hand, do list the skills and certifications you have, as well as related professional organizations that you belong to.
Sending out Your Resume:
Include a cover letter that identifies what position you're applying for and why you're particularly well-suited. Keep your tone professional. If you heard about the job through a friend or colleague, list their name -- some companies pay referral bonuses, and you want to make sure your referrer gets their due. Tell them you look forward to hearing from them, and if you haven't heard back in a week, follow up with a phone call or brief note checking to make sure they received it.
Phone Interviews:Often a company may want to perform a phone interview, particularly if a face to face interview might involve travel. Make sure the interview occurs at a time when you won't feel rushed or be interrupted. Prepare for the interview by compiling a list of the questions you have about the position and the company -- and have that list handy. It doesn't hurt to have at least one question that demonstrates to them that you've looked at their website, but you should be fairly subtle about it. Be calm and polite, and remember that the worst that can happen is they might decide against interviewing you -- there's no way they can fine you for being bad in an interview.
Don't waste people's time -- if you know that the position is definitely one you're not interested in, don't agree to the call.
Face to Face Interviews:
Dress professionally but comfortably, even if it's for a company that has stressed they have no dress code. You will feel more self-confident if you're dressed well, and it will signal to the interviewer that you are taking the interview seriously.
Go prepared. Have a hardcopy of your resume with you, as well as a list of questions. If it's for a writing position, have hardcopies of writing samples with you. Make sure you know where the interview is taking place ahead of time, and overestimate how much time it will take you to get there. If you are late (and this is a bad thing to be), call the company to let them know.
Get some idea of when they'll be making a decision about the position, so you'll know when to contact them if you haven't heard from them within a reasonable amount of time.
If they make an offer then and there, even if it sounds appealing, wait. Ask them when they need to have your decision and let them know you'll make your decision as soon as possible.
Drop the interviewer(s) an email or note thanking them for taking the time to interview and indicate that you're looking forward to hearing from them.
Relax and be yourself, the person that they should be wanting to hire. Remember that there are a lot of jobs available and that you can afford to be choosy. And good luck! :)
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Compiled by Sanvean. Last updated 11/24/2003.
© 2001 Cat Francis. All rights reserved.