Friday, January 31, 2014

RHT: 8 Things IT Recruiters Wish They Could Tell You

by Clea Badion
January 30, 2014 Robert Half Technology

If there were no filters, here’s what IT recruiters would say to candidates.

For many highly skilled IT professionals — systems administrator, web developer or software engineer, to name a few — it’s probably not news to you that you’re in demand. In fact, you may even be hearing on a regular basis from firms interested in hiring you.

But just because you hold many of the cards in the IT job market, doesn’t mean you can do no wrong when talking to recruiters or hiring managers. No matter what city or town you live in, the tech community tends to be a small one, and you always want an active professional network so you have options if a time comes when you want to make a move.

I talked to four different Robert Half Technology recruiters (who will remain nameless!) and asked them, “If there is one piece of advice you could anonymously share with candidates, what would it be?” Here are eight things they’d tell you:
  1. Have realistic salary expectations. “There are limits, even in a hot market, and you can price yourself out of a job,” said one recruiter. Experienced recruiters know their market and what cost they will bear. Do your own salary research, but also trust their expertise. And don’t forget to consider all aspects of a job offer: Will you get opportunities to learn at a company that you wouldn’t somewhere else, or does the firm offer great perks
  2. Give your current employer a chance. Before you approach a recruiter, be clear about what’s not working in your current job and see if you can change it. One recruiter I spoke to said, “A lot of candidates come to me and want a raise, but they haven’t had a conversation with their current company yet.” Most employers want a chance to fix an issue with a valued employee. If they don t fix it, then it might be time to look. 
  3. Pay attention to appearances. Don’t give a hiring manager an excuse not to hire you. “Sometimes candidates don’t present themselves as well as they could,” said a recruiter. “While it seems basic, make sure you take a shower and comb your hair before an interview.” He added that any strong scent – from smoking or perfume, for example – can work against you in an interview. And while you probably don’t need to wear a suit and tie if you’re applying for a regular programming job, if you’ll be interacting with C-level executives, you’ll need to dress appropriately. Let interviewers focus on your skills, not your personal appearance. 
  4. Be professional when you answer the phone. “It’s surprising how many candidates are abrupt, unprofessional or even rude when they answer the phone,” said a recruiter. You don’t know who will be calling you, whether it’s a recruiter or hiring manager, so always be polite and professional when you answer the phone. If you can’t talk right then, give the caller a better time to reach you. Also, be sure that your voicemail message is at least somewhat professional. 
  5. Don’t post your resume on every job board. When you’re searching for a job, be selective. In addition, pick a recruiter you like and stick with him or her. “If you’ve signed up with every recruiter in the area, it makes it less likely that I’ll want to work with you,” said a recruiter. That said, if you aren’t getting interviews or the chemistry isn’t right, don’t hesitate to find someone else. 
  6. Be transparent. If a recruiter is working hard to place you, but you’ve already received a job offer at another firm, tell the recruiter you’re working with. “We need to know where you are in the job search process so we’re not trying to place someone who is unavailable,” said a recruiter. Also key: Let recruiters know if you have a vacation coming up that might affect an interview time or start date for a job, so they can convey it to hiring managers. 
  7. Bring your “A” game. Hiring managers are seeking IT professionals who are truly interested in a job. Show enthusiasm in an interview, even if you’re shy or reserved by nature. Ask questions about the technology and company culture during an interview, for example. A recruiter I spoke to said, “Showing up for an interview doesn’t necessarily mean you want the job – you have to demonstrate your interest.” Check out these interview mistakes for more tips. 
  8. Don’t burn bridges. You never know when you’ll need a job: “People in tech talk, and if you’re dishonest or unprofessional with one hiring manger, other hiring managers will likely hear about it,” said a recruiter. 

Indeed. On that last note, always treat everyone you encounter in a job search with courtesy and professionalism. You never know when you’ll run into them again.

And, while your technical skills are essential, so are your interpersonal skills, and you’re demonstrating them at every stage of a job search. Leave your tips for the job hunt in the comments section.

— Clea Badion

Clea Badion is an editor for the RHT Blog. She’s been writing about the workplace, career trends and technology for the past decade. Clea has 15 years of professional writing and editing experience and a master’s degree in visual studies. She’s a little obsessed with cute animal videos and the show ”American Ninja Warrior.” Follow her on Twitter @cleabadion.

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