15 common IT job search mistakes

Searching for a new IT position in a competitive market can be an uphill battle. One little mistake could cost you the opportunity, so make sure you aren't making one of these blunders

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Before you even apply, make sure you've looked through LinkedIn and company About Us pages to find the most likely hiring manager for the job you're targeting. If you can't find a name, look for contacts within the employer's HR department. Once you've applied to the position, then reach out to these contacts through LinkedIn or email to reiterate your interest and ask for verification that your application was received.

"While it's possible that you may still not hear back about your application, there's also a chance that your contact didn't see your resume and will express interest in interviewing you," says Smith-Proulx.

11. Don't come off desperate

Whether it's your personal network or hiring managers, people can smell desperation a mile away. A better way to approach the whole job search is to figure out what you can do for the company and how you can add value. If you can show that you can fill a need or solve a problem that will make people want to hire you. Part of that is, as discussed earlier, researching the company you are interviewing with.

Posting your resume on every job board is another approach that Burns warns against. "It's OK to post your resume on a job board. But posting your resume on too many sites cannot help you. It's as a bad as mass-mailing 400 resumes -- you look like you're having a panic attack," says Donald Burns.

12. A weak Web presence

You're in IT, people. You have been and will be judged on what shows up in search rankings for your name. If have incomplete or outdated profiles or, worse yet, no Web profiles at all, then you need to get on the ball and take care of that.

"If a recruiter tries to Google your name, can they find you quickly? This is hugely important -- if they can't find you quickly on Google, you might as well not exist. This is especially true if you have a common name like 'Robert Jones,' for example. It's not simply a matter of being visible on Google. What's really important is being known for something. If your special expertise is FEO [front end optimization], you want to show up on the first page when the recruiter Googles 'Robert Jones FEO'," says Burns. If something negative does come up in the search and you can't make it go away, be prepared to discuss it at interviews.

LinkedIn and social media have become powerful tools in regards to job search and network building. They help passive job seekers to attract recruiters and recruiters to source new candidates. Don't wait until you're unemployed to dress up your profile.

"It's best to keep it up-to-date with a focused message, a strong value statement, and high-impact achievements listed along with skills endorsements and good recommendations. In addition, you want to be sure that the profile is optimized for search by having it be keyword-rich in the proper places," says Van Vreede.

13. Maintain your LinkedIn profile

While this problem occurs among job hunters across all industries, it's particularly damaging to IT workers, whose currency in specific methodologies or technologies can make a huge difference.

"Recruiters are constantly hunting for great talent on LinkedIn, and your Profile updates can mean the difference between receiving calls or being ignored when you apply to hot job postings. Like some IT pros, you may consider yourself an introvert, and therefore be uncomfortable sharing details of your career on LinkedIn. Get over it. Otherwise, you'll be passed over when employers come calling," says Smith-Proulx. One tip from Smith-Proulx: When you're updating your online profile or resume, keep the descriptions of past projects, but lose the technical skills associated with them. This strategy will allow you to keep the experience on your resume, but remove outdated technologies that can make your skills look old-school.

14. Being too overconfident

"We always hear a lot about the importance in confidently projecting yourself in an interview, but it's just as vital to not appear to be overly confident. Take the time to draw on past experiences, challenges, and successes to discuss accomplishments. Emphasizing achievements and confidence is key, but make sure it's done it a way that shows your substance," says Cullen.

15. Badmouthing your former co-workers or employers

Most tech pros can look back upon at least one person or team who made work miserable. Navigating through the waters of work politics can be trying to even the most even-keeled IT pro, but no matter how tempting it may be, talking negatively about your previous boss or company is never a wise thing to do, even if that's the reason you left or are leaving your current position.

"Be careful what you say about past employers, even in situations where you believe you're just telling the truth. Nearly everyone has experienced the challenge of a bad boss or a volatile team; however, it's how you've dealt with problematic situations that show your true value as an employee," says Smith-Proulx.

She advises clients who face this dilemma to be honest about how or why it didn't work out, but be respectful of former colleagues. "Focus on the upside, rather than on situations you couldn't change. No hiring manager wants to hear about impossible deadlines, negative colleagues, or demoralizing work environments, but they do want to find out that you're a resilient, proactive resource who is able to get work done despite difficult circumstances," says Smith-Proulx.

Read more about careers in CIO's Careers Drilldown.

This story, "15 common IT job search mistakes" was originally published by CIO.


Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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