Job Search Tip of the Week #35 (2018)


5 Five-Minute Ways to Improve Your IT Job Search This Labor Day Weekend

Just because summer is ending doesn’t mean your job search should as well!

Labor Day celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of American workers, and is the perfect opportunity to invest some time into your career. In fact, Labor Day marks the beginning of one of the best times of the year for job hunting.

We know you have a lot of BBQs to go to and parades to watch, but you can also use the long weekend to get a jump-start on your employment prospects this fall. So without further ado here are 5 ways you can improve your IT job search and career prospects that can each be done in 5 minutes or less:

  1. Create an elevator pitch. You never know who you might meet at the next cookout and where the conversation will lead, so it’s best to be prepared should a career networking opportunity arise. Prepare a 30-second introduction of who you are, what you do, and where you want to go with your career. Think of it as a rundown of the highlights of your résumé (you know, the information you want IT recruiters to see) and focus on your interests, expertise, and accomplishments.

    Remember, you want to spark conversation, not give a monologue. Some tips:

    • Practice makes perfect, but don’t overdo it. You want to sound natural, not as if you’re reading off a script.
    • Steer clear of industry or profession-specific acronyms and jargon. If your audience isn’t technical they will either tune out or not know how to carry on the conversation.
    • Describe what your company does (e.g., “I work for an IT and technology staffing firm that specializes in the New England area”), instead of simply saying where you work (e.g., “I work at Chase Technology Consultants“). Descriptions provide lead-ins that will help continue the conversation (e.g., “How does a recruitment agency work?”).
    • Ask open-ended questions and avoid giving one-word responses to keep the conversation flowing. Identify similarities between yourself and whomever you’re talking to in order to build a stronger feeling of connection.
  2. Make Microsoft Excel your new job-search best friend. An application process tracking log is a great way to manage every detail of your job search. (It’s especially helpful if you’re applying to every job in sight, even though you shouldn’t.) For instance, adding columns like “Interview Notes,” “Follow Up Date,” and “Thank You Sent” can help you remember when you did/should reach out to interviewers, so you can allocate more time and effort into the things that really matter (like conducting thorough research and preparing for interviews). Compiling all of the information in one place will also be helpful when it comes time for you to decide whether to accept a job offer.

    Make your own application tracking log, or download one here and customize it to fit your job search needs. Not the Excel type? Try using some mobile apps to keep you organized.
  3. Reach out to members of your network. Some job seekers refrain from doing this because they don’t know what to say and want to ask for help. Fortunately, changing your LinkedIn settings can help solve this problem!

    LinkedIn offers summaries of what’s happening in your network – job changes, birthdays, and publications – all legitimate, quick reasons to contact someone. If you aren’t getting these, go to your account settings (you’ll be prompted to log in) and click on the “Communications” tab. Under the “Preferences” section, click “Email Frequency.” Make sure “Network Updates” and “Jobs and opportunities” are on. If you’ve been messaging recruiters and hiring managers too, you’ll want to turn on “Invitations” and “Messages” too so you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

    Keep the conversation going by sending more than a “Congratulations” or “Happy birthday!” Ask how business is going and what they’ve been up to, send them articles you think they’d find interesting, and provide feedback on their blog posts. Show sincere interest in what your connections are doing and maintain dialogue now, so you’ll feel more comfortable asking for their help later. (More on networking etiquette and relationship building here.)
  4. Stay informed and top-of-mind. Social media is an avenue to broadcast your career story and interests, and publishing content regularly will keep you on the top of newsfeeds – and minds – of employers looking to hire. For example, sharing industry-related news can help you establish yourself as a knowledgeable expert and garner you employee referrals. For more tips on how to develop your personal brand, click here for an A-to-Z guide.

    You can also search for upcoming IT networking events, workshops, or meetups you’d like to attend, and ask your network if they’ll be joining you. Before you post, check the privacy settings of your social media profiles to ensure that others can see what you’re sharing.
  5. Update your LinkedIn profile and résumé. Five minutes is enough time (especially if you’ve been maintaining it regularly as you’re supposed to) to add in awards you or your team have recently earned; URLs to blog posts, videos, and projects; and quantifiers and search keywords to your accomplishments. That way, when it comes time to send out applications, you’re ready!

Blogging Forward,

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Image Credit: Marilyn Volan /