Focusing too much on the technical skills in a position is something that's common in IT interviews, according to Jack Cullen, president of Modis, a national IT recruiting firm.
"While these elements are definitely important to the position, companies hire on cultural fit, and the person that's interviewing you needs to really get a sense of your personality in a short period of time," says Cullen.
While specific networking or application development skills can make a difference early in your career, it is business competencies that will distinguish you. The higher you move up the ladder, the more this holds true. You've got to understand and be able to articulate at least one or two stories that highlight your achievements.
Resume strategist Laura Smith-Proulx offers this advice to her clients. "It's important to show how these skills were used to achieve business results. If you don't know how a particular project affected your employer, take some time to find out the results in terms of business efficiency, new revenue, or cost savings. After pulling together a cohesive story, consider listing it in C-A-R format, Challenge-Action-Result, on your resume or LinkedIn Profile; this strategy can help you collect your thoughts on the intensity of the project and its outcome," says Smith-Proulx.
6. Too much technical detail in your resume
IT pros typically have longer resumes. It's not easy to effectively document several years of experience within the IT field on one page. "Resumes are typically longer for IT candidates, but anything exceeding three pages can wear out even the most patient recruiter. If you struggle to fit your experience into two to three pages, consider looking at resume samples or working with a professional writer to trim your narrative for readability," says Smith-Proulx.
7. Focusing on the wrong part of the story
"One common mistake is for a job seeker to focus more on the responsibilities in past roles and less on the important facts and real results. Things that were developed, money that was saved, and organizational goals that were reached are all good examples of what interviewers want to hear about," says Cullen. A hiring manager wants to know what you did to help your company succeed, not a laundry list of duties and responsibilities.
When looking for a position and building a resume, job seekers should be detailed in their descriptions and searches. "A search term like 'software engineer' should be expanded to include software developer, Java developer, and similar positions. The same goes for a resume -- ensure that your skills are detailed enough to bring more attention to yourself when recruiters or hiring managers are searching through resumes," says Cullen.
8. Using a work email address
If you are looking for a job while still employed, you can find yourself in hot water with your boss or, worse yet, fired when your boss finds out his investment, you, is getting ready to leave.
"Even if you believe company email isn't monitored or that your boss won't find out you're looking for a new role, using a work email address shows poor discretion in using company resources," says Smith Proulx. She also cautions that prospective employer might suspect that you're using work time for job hunting activities if they see that you're expecting email messages through your employer's domain.
9. Over-reliance on the job boards and recruiters
The top issue commonly seen with IT people, according to Burns, is an over-reliance on IT methods to connect with jobs. "Job boards are notoriously ineffective at connecting people with jobs. If you Google this topic, you'll find that less than 10 percent of job seekers actually connect via these job boards, yet typical job seekers spends 80 percent of their time trying to find jobs this way. Spending 80 percent of your time on a strategy that is less than 10 percent effective makes no sense," says Burns. He also points out that IT people are especially prone to this trap because IT is their expertise.
Van Vreede agrees, noting that job boards are the least effective of all the search strategies out there. "I'm not saying you shouldn't use job boards, just that you should have a narrow set of conditions at a few key IT job boards that alert you when a match is posted so that you can spend your valuable time with more productive search strategies," says Stephen Van Vreede.
Van Vreede advises his clients that IT recruiters aren't the only answer; they are simply one part of a multi-pronged attack. "Recruiters are fine, and you should use them if possible in your job search. However, don't pin all of your hopes on them. They don't represent you, the job seeker; they represent the company they are hiring for. They have a very narrow set of criteria they are looking for in a candidate. Also, most recruiters tend operate with the I'm-only-interested-if-you-don't-want-me mindset, so if you reach out to them, don't expect a whole lot of love from them," says Stephen Van Vreede.