Tips for the Job Hunter

job search illustrationWe recently published 10 tips for HR managers and hiring companies on how to get the most of their relationship with a recruiter. It’s only fair that you, the job seeker, get some suggestions that come from our experience filling more than 500 slots since we opened our doors in 2006.

Be clear and straightforward. When it comes to talking about yourself, it’s natural to want to be seen in a good light. So, go ahead, polish up that resume. This is no time to be modest – if you were team leader and the team succeeded, by all means say so. If you’re the best programmer in six states, well, let’s talk! BUT. And that’s a huge “but”. Be prepared to back it all up with statistics, prizes won, letters of commendation and so on. Your claims will be checked. Your background will be checked. Your references will be checked.

On the other hand, if something didn’t go as planned, be open about it and talk about how you were able to overcome adversity and lessons learned.

By the way, forget that one-to-two-page resume rule. If laying out your experience, skills and certifications takes more than two pages, then do so. Don’t skimp on the information about yourself just to fit in these artificial constraints.

Recruiters are on your side, too. Though the hiring company pays the recruiter, finding a good fit for your skills means a win for everyone. A good recruiter can steer you to opportunities you weren’t aware of and give you advice on structuring your resume for that position. They’ll also provide interview preparation, feedback on your interview, skills you need to add, and even which certifications are worthwhile.

Stay in touch. It isn’t unusual for a single recruiter in a staffing firm to get 10 or 20 or more resumes via email every day. It doesn’t hurt to make a quick phone call or a short email every few weeks or so, but don’t be a pest. Update the recruiter you’re working with on your job hunt status and let them know if you’re still in the market. Also let them know if there’s a job you’re interested in or interviewing for. It will ensure that you both aren’t submitting your resume to the same company and the recruiter can be of help – even if the company isn’t their client.

Here at Morton, we post new positions as soon as they come in, so check the jobs listing page on our website frequently – even daily. With the IT unemployment rate at 2.9% and software engineers unemployment at 1.9%, the listings don’t stay up long.

Pay attention. The most common reason for not getting an interview is because your stated qualifications don’t match the job listing, so read the job announcement carefully. If your qualifications are not a close match to the specifications, you aren’t going to get an interview. Listen to your recruiter’s advice and trust their experience and insights.

A frequent reason an otherwise good candidate doesn’t get the job is because he or she didn’t listen and respond to the questions during the interview. You aren’t likely to dazzle ’em with your brilliance when your responses don’t answer the questions.

Don’t depend on spellcheck. This is such a basic no-no, but people still cause problems for themselves because of improper grammar and words that are similar but not the same at all (elicit/illicit was one we saw recently). Ask someone to proof it for you.

It’s okay to ask why you didn’t get the job. But be prepared to get a less than straightforward answer, particularly if it’s a question of bad chemistry or hygiene problems or if you just didn’t quite fit. (Our dedicated recruiters at Morton will have – and have had – what can be an embarrassing conversation so you can be more successful the next time. Listen to their advice.)

Sometimes the recruiter doesn’t know because the employer won’t say. Other times, though, you’ll get useful information, such as your skills are good, but you need more experience or they really need someone stronger in a certain area.

Work with specialists in your field. If you’re in IT, work with someone (like Morton Consulting) that specializes in tech. They are known in the industry for that specialization and are more likely to have the best openings in your field.

Make it easy for others to find you. Network in trade groups as well as community activities. Blog. Get out there on social media. If you don’t have a job and are looking for one, let people know. Keep your online resumes on jobs boards fresh and your LinkedIn profile up to date – it will keep your resume popping to the top of the lists.

Listen to advice. Finally, listen to the advice of the recruiter you’re working with. It’s a partnership! They know what employers are looking for, what to avoid, and how to make you look good.

Why work with a recruiter?

Recruiters can offer insights into the job market and tell you what the local salary ranges are for your industry. It’s common for a recruiting firm to have access to jobs openings that will never be published. They can offer advice on interviewing and insights into target companies.

Staying in touch with a recruiter – when you are actively looking and after you have landed your new position – can help the recruiter-contractor relationship become a warm, friendly, long-term partnership.

Ultimately, they may help you get your dream job – one that would have otherwise been unattainable.

Looking for a new tech job? Got a new slot at your company? Get in touch and let us help make the match.