On April 12, CompTIA and Apex Systems hosted a Twitter chat about setting a strategy for your IT job search. Experts including Jeff Baird and Shaunda Lambert along with recruiters from Apex and Creative Circle offered great advice on identifying job opportunities, making yourself stand out from the crowd, working with recruiters, branding yourself online and minimizing stress. We’ve curated the advice into five actionable tips that you can use in your next job search.
1. Update Your Resume
This may sound like a no-brainer, but when you update your resume, you don’t want it to simply be current. You want it to also be relevant. Tailor your resume to the role so that the recruiter and hiring manager can easily align the skills you have to the ones they need. With each job you apply for, you may need to make small tweaks, but the potential benefits of landing the perfect job far outweigh the effort you put forth.
Let your personality shine through with your resume by highlighting unique skills and experiences and even adding in a bit of visual creativity. Just make sure that the fonts, colors and layout you use are appropriate for your industry and the company you’re applying with.
@ApexSystems Highlighting unique skillsets & getting creative w/ the traditional resume layout. Showing a little personality is a good thing! #ITJobsChat
— Creative Circle (@Creative_Circle) April 12, 2017
2. Make It Searchable
Optimize your resume with keywords so that it appeals to search engines and gets in front of the people you want to impress. Not sure what keywords to include? Do some keyword research to identify the terms and phrases related to the job you want. Start by reviewing job descriptions that interest you and make a list of potential keywords. Then, search for those keywords on LinkedIn and see what comes up. If the keywords bring up job descriptions that interest you, those are the ones to include in your resume. Don’t forget – your IT certifications are keywords, too, so put them at the top of your resume to make it more searchable.
3. Assess Your Personal Brand
Your personal brand includes your resume and your digital footprint. What does your online presence look like? How do people perceive you, and how do you want them to perceive you? Your LinkedIn profile may be the first thing potential employers see, so start there and make sure it is as current and relevant as your resume. Ask former colleagues and clients to write recommendations for you. And be sure to add your CompTIA certifications.
Aside from LinkedIn, what else might employers find? Do you have a website or portfolio? Are your other social media accounts public? Make sure that whatever you have out there for the world to see has a consistent personal brand message. Rather than locking down social media, use it to your advantage by connecting with influencers in your field and sharing articles relevant to your industry.
4. Network! Network! Network!
Networking is the key to a successful job search. When you put yourself out there and let people know that you’re looking, opportunities will come your way. Get advice from people you know who recently changed jobs. Find out what worked for them and how they landed their new position. When you find an opportunity that excites you, connect with someone at the company via email or LinkedIn to get more information and start making a name for yourself.
Finding the right recruiter can also help you streamline your job search and uncover opportunities you may not have found on your own. Search LinkedIn for recruiters or staffing firms, or check out lists like Inavero’s Best of Staffing. When you identify a staffing company you’d like to work with, search for a recruiter who specializes in your skills and location. Open the lines of communication to build a relationship, and be honest about your expectations so the recruiter can find the best opportunities for you.
5. Minimize Stress to Stay Focused
Setting goals, staying organized and preparing yourself for pitfalls will help minimize frustration and keep you on track toward finding the next great thing. Be consistent in applying and follow up with recruiters to keep the ball rolling. Job searching can become all consuming, so decide up front how much time you’re going to dedicate to each task per day or per week. Taking an agile approach, where you set small daily goals, can help you feel accomplished while still finding time for exercise and hobbies.
When it comes to interviewing, preparation breeds confidence, so practice how you will answer common interview questions and have a few anecdotes in your back pocket as examples of how your skills and experience make you the best candidate for the job. Know your resume forward and back, and write a list of your qualifications related to the job descriptions so they’re fresh in your mind.
@ApexSystems A5: Regular exercise. It's destressing, and even if you don't get the job, you'll look better than the other applicants#ITJobsChat
— Jake Earl (@hey_youre_hired) April 12, 2017
Looking for more great advice? Check out Apex Systems’ recap of the Twitter chat for additional nuggets of wisdom. And if you have advice of your own to share, continue the conversation on Twitter with #ITJobsChat.