5 common pitfalls of the IT job hunt

Looking for a job in IT is hard enough. Make sure you get the most for your investment by staying away from these 5 job-hunting traps.

Not telling your circle you’re looking

When I look back at my working life, I see that basically all  the career opportunities I’ve taken advantage of were because I knew someone. A girlfriend, a buddy, someone from school or church or whatever. I can’t think of a single time I got a gig and a person I know and love didn’t give me an assist.

Tell your friends and family! And everyone you meet at Starbucks and/or kind of know. You never know where the next opportunity will come from.

Applying online

If you shoot an application into an online portal, you might as well toss it in the trash. As it turns out, these applicant tracking systems suck!

You are a person, darnit, and you deserve some real human contact, and a real human to make a decision about you, not a machine with an inflexible algorithm screening people out like they were spam.

The companies who put up the ATS portals are lazy or scared and probably overworked. They are afraid they are going to get 1600 resumes to sift through for one System Admin job. So I guess we can add overconfident also. They use the portals that are not friendly or unique, like you are.

Most the time, you get a generic autoresponse that say “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” You are a person, darnit, and you deserve some real human contact, and a real human to make a decision about you, not a machine with an inflexible algorithm screening people out like they were spam. Good talent just avoids them all together and contacts the hiring manager directly.

Ignoring the power of networking

Networking is just getting to know people and seeing how you can help them.

Networking is just selling. But you hate selling- that’s why you got into IT, right? WRONG!

Everyone, everywhere is selling. From getting your kid to take their medicine to convincing your mate to go to the Taco Barn instead of Steak City for dinner, and getting your boss to spend big bucks on a new piece of hardware, we are all in sales. Sales is just convincing others to take action on something, or as sales teacher who I don’t know liked to put it, “Transferring enthusiasm”.

Networking is just getting to know people and seeing how you can help them. And that’s the attitude I recommend you take. See what you can do for them rather than just pitching yourself.

Go to your local SpiceCorps or to pure and shameless tech socials. When there are events at work, go and meet new people. If you’re kind of shy, find the social butterfly and get him or her to show you around.

Letting your body… go

Many IT guys are gamers (duh)! When you’re not working, it’s easy to get into some unhealthy habits. I know the temptation! Letting it go is fine if you’re a snow-slinging Disney princess, but staying up late and eating junk will work extra hard against you. It hurts your confidence and self esteem when you don’t look or feel good.

Do the basics- eat healthy, get plenty of rest, and exercise to make sure you’re in fighting trim for the next interview. Nothing wrong with a little Destiny until 3am occasionally, but build and maintain good habits so you can land a gig and easily transition into it.

Letting it go is fine if you’re a snow-slinging Disney princess, but staying up late and eating junk will work extra hard against you.

Not going hard if you’re not working

If you are in the unlucky (or not, it depends) state of no job, you need to make getting one your full-time employment. It’s sad to see that some people are out of the workforce for years- I just can’t imagine that.

If that’s you, and you’ve been out of work for 1 day or 100, you can start right now. Get up like you were going to work, get dressed and all cleaned up, and make a plan for the day. Also, if you’re not working, it’s a perfect time to start getting additional IT training. You can YouTube it and Microsoft has plenty of free info over at Microsoft Virtual Academy. If you have some money, CBTNuggets or Pluralsight have very high-quality training videos.

Don’t let your skills languish. Maybe work on getting that certification you’ve been wanting. Just don’t use that as an excuse to not look for a job. Work 8 hours  a day during the week on finding a job, and you won’t be without one for long!

So that’s it! If you are hunting right now, examine yourself to make sure you’re not getting stuck in a rut. What is good job hunting tip you can think of? Comment below!

If you are getting your start in IT, even as “not a kid“, I can help! Feel free to follow and reach out, I would love to hear from you. You can connect with me on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn.

Photo Credit WarmSleepy

 

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