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The new IT job search

Mary K. Pratt | April 6, 2010
The days when a decent résumé could get you into the right position are gone.

While Alexander says staying put can be detrimental to career growth, he and others acknowledge that the decision to relocate is a personal matter.

"It's really around values and what's important to you," says Thuy Sindell, a leadership development coach at Mariposa Leadership. Some want to be close to their families or certain cities and are willing to forgo opportunities. Others put their careers ahead of other considerations and will move anywhere for a better position. Still others simply like the adventure of moving and seek jobs that let them experience new places.

Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, says the key is to be flexible. "Today's economy demands flexibility to a certain extent," he says. If you're not willing to move, you might have to be more flexible on, say, the industry you work in or your salary.

However, while flexibility is still important, Willmer says it's not as crucial as it was just several months ago, particularly for those who have in-demand skills, such as business intelligence expertise.

The successful ones then tailor their résumés and pitches to fit each situation, she says. So you need to understand what you bring to the table and what you want your employer to offer, too.

Ever-Essential Résumé

Résumés still matter, says Ryan Erving, a director of business development who puts his company's IT consultants in front of hiring managers all the time. He points to one quality assurance tester who was perfect for two recent job openings but didn't initially attract the attention of potential employers. Erving says the tester's résumé was too generic, so he pushed him to write up a few points on his deep experience in performance- and load-balancing Web servers. The hiring managers took a closer look, and one quickly extended an offer.

"This is a worker who thought his résumé was good enough and didn't spend time to articulate what set him apart," Erving says.

To make sure you don't get lost in a pile of résumés, it's important to translate your tech skills into top- and bottom-line business values, says Dave Willmer, executive director of IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology in Menlo Park, Calif.

"You have to be able to speak to what the business impact was in terms of your responsibilities," says Willmer, a Computerworld columnist. Hiring managers want to know that your skills can deliver business results, whether it's reducing downtime because you resolve help desk calls quickly or because you can deliver a Web product that will help generate more sales.

But getting the right job means more than knowing what you offer. You should also know what to expect when you get there. You need to make sure your next employer isn't going bankrupt or planning to offshore its IT services. You want to ask about managers' styles and company culture, so you don't end up in an unsuitable environment.

 

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