Finding IT jobs

I recently went job hunting, due to my contract expiring. I was working as a contractor to the government, so despite Obama's claim that he has been creating jobs, the Federal government is cutting back its budget, and jobs, at least for contractors.

I am about to start a new job. I carefully documented the process of finding a job, and I thought it might be helpful to review some of the things I found, in the hopes that there might be some useful information for others.

My new job starts on September 6th. The entire process took seven weeks. Considering that most companies leave you with a pitiful two weeks severance. Two weeks is not enough, your former company is not doing you any favors with two weeks severance.

If two weeks severance happens to you, one of the first things you should do after you get your last paycheck is apply for unemployment.  You should not wait.  You don't get any unemployment compensation from the day you are let go, it starts from day you apply for unemployment. Since you don't know how long your going to be out of work, apply for unemployment immediately.

Ok, let's go through the process. I was notified on July 18th. The first thing you need to do is get your resume together. This is an advertisement of your job skill to the world. You should have a resume for each job type you are applying for, specifically tailored to the type of job you want. This is your chance to "toot your horn," talk about everything you have accomplished, whether alone, or in a team. Talk about any bonuses or awards you have won, and any educational courses you have taken. Take out everything on your resume, including past jobs, that don't have anything to do with the type of job you want. Keep time to recent time, like the last five or six years, and compress everything before that. Have a section on your job skills you bring to the job. Check for grammar and spelling, and put it in a word document format.  The purpose of the resume is to get an interview, and for you to have something to talk about in the interview.

You want to decide where you want to work. The last job I ended up 40 miles from my house, and as time went by, and gas prices went up, it started to take a toll on me both financially and weariness from driving to and from work. I looked for a job in an area that had little traffic and easy access from my home. I had jobs pop up that were in other cities, or were a traffic nightmare to get to the job site. I would recommend, at least for the first month or two, you concentrate on close to home areas.

It took me until Thursday, July 21st to finish the resumes. I was now ready to get my advertisement out into to world and look for work.

My first stop was Craigslist for the city where I wanted to work. If you go to craigslist, and look under jobs, you'll find jobs listed by specific geographic location. Find one you like, and send them a resume. I would also visit the web site of specific companies where you might want to work, and see if they have any job openings.

The week of 7/26, I started visiting all the job sites looking for jobs in my area.  I did this daily until I got an offer letter.  You'll find new jobs are posted every day.  Here, are some of the job sites I used:

Your local paper also has a jobs section you should look at that you can find on their web site.  There are more sites out there, and if readers would like to point them out in comments, I'm sure others will appreciate.

If you want a lot of phone calls, I recommend you post your resume for public viewing on Dice, number one. I had every headhunter in the area calling me; they all use it.

You'll end up doing a lot of pre-qualification phone interviews. The people you'll talk with are headhunters, third party contracting companies, and directly with a Human Resource person at the companies with jobs.  If you sound good to the person on the phone, you'll get an interview.  Have a good story of your past experience, and say it with warmth and enthusiasm. It comes across over the phone.

Headhunters make their money from companies needing workers. The game is to find as many people as they can that are qualified for a job. Headhunters frequent Dice, because they see your entire resume and can match you to a job.  If your hired, the headhunter gets a commission, and the company is out some money that they normally don't have to spend.  Some headhunters want to meet with you, and promise to work with you.  That's a crock.  Your wasting your time meeting with them, unless you have nothing better to do, don't bother.  There's nothing exclusive about you to them.  They  would rather send two or three people for a job, to better insure they will make money.

Third party companies have a contract with their client companies to provide workers. They hire workers and pay them. They make their money by charging, usually twice as much, for your services to the client company.  Nice for them.  They will put you through programming tests to prove your the perfect fit for the client's job. There OK, the trouble here is usually as soon as the job is complete, you're let go, and since your contract with the third party company is contingent on the job, you lose your job with the third party company also.  There's no loyalty here, and don't expect it.  If your talking to a third party company, an alarm bell should go off in your head to check the job's longevity.

The same goes for contract-to-hire jobs. If they don't like you, you don't have a job, only quicker than with other jobs. Don't take contract-to-hire jobs if you want a full time job.

Who you really want to hear from is the Human Resource people from the company with the job.  The good HR people are looking on line, on Dice, and posting jobs on craigslist, for quality people they need. This saves their company third-party and headhunter fees and makes hiring you a plus for them. The company has an opening, a need for your services, and usually it makes for a good interview, and job offer.

On interviewing, I would be prepared to feel euphoric about your first, and maybe, second interview, like you knocked it out of the park, and not get hired. Why? You'll have "puke" mouth. You'll tell them about all your weaknesses, and what you don't know, just to be "honest."  Chalk the first couple of interviews up to re-learning how to interview. Your going to blow them, just accept it. Go to these interviews, and try for the job, then go back home, and figure out what you said that you shouldn't have said. That's what you eliminate on your next interview.

Interviewing is a process, the first couple, you trip all over yourself, after the fifth or sixth, your more polished, you don't tell them anything negative, and rave about what you've done, and your experience, all the while jumping around in your seat showing them how excited and interested you are in the job. You get the idea. Do some homework, when interviewing with companies, but just enough to understand the job they've posted, and nothing more.

I've done extensive research on a company, only to be let down when they didn't offer me a job. Don't fall in love with a company before you get a job offer.  Don't do that to your emotions and well being.  Purposely wait to do your in depth research on a company until after you get the job offer to decide if you want the job.

One more thing for you IT guys, wear a coat and tie. Even though you wear jeans and a T-shirt normally, the employer wants to know you care enough about their job to dress up. I had a hiring manager dress up for the interview and tell me that, they expected the same from applicants.  It was one of the reasons, I believe, I got a job offer. Do it. Better dress well, then not.

Around the fourth week you should have three or four interviews lined up in one week, and you'll be in flow. One or two of these companies will, hopefully, make you an offer.  It's a numbers game, the more interviews, the higher chance that you'll get an offer.   Don't stop until you get an offer letter.  I've had companies imply in the interview that they want to hire you, and never get back to you.  Stop when you get an offer letter for a job that you want, until then keep interviewing.

It took me seven weeks, and I didn't waste a lot of time. I would say that that's the minimum amount of time it takes to get a job. I don't see how it could be done in two weeks. It's just not going to happen.

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