Tips for Landing an IT Job in the Recession

You may need to throw out your old resume and redo it for today’s climate. Plus: networking is great, but don’t overdo it.


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Today’s job market is more challenging than any that most IT professionals have ever faced. One consequence is that strategies to locate employment that may have proved successful in previous economic cycles may not be as effective today. Here are some tips to help you land a high-tech job in the current recession:

Throw out your old resume

When launching a job hunt, your first step is usually to dust off your old resume and update it with your most recent accomplishments. But that strategy may not be effective in today’s job market. For one thing, it may have been many years since you last searched for employment. If that’s the case, the document could be so outdated that it simply makes more sense to start from scratch.

Perhaps more important, today’s employers seek attributes that you may not have focused on in earlier drafts of your resume. For example, companies that are hiring are looking for individuals who can help the organization save money or improve efficiencies. They want evidence that you’ve contributed to another firm’s bottom line. As a result, you must note any quantifiable achievements, such as reducing call times by 10 percent when you worked the help desk.

In addition, many hiring managers seek “multitalented” professionals, those individuals who can wear more than one hat. These IT practitioners can often fill multiple roles especially when teams are lean. Although you want to keep your resume targeted to each opportunity, you may decide to highlight a slightly broader segment of your work experience than you would have in the past.

Don’t try to hide employment gaps

In previous hiring environments, a break in your work history could have been seen as a black mark on your record. But with so many individuals out of work, employers understand that you may be looking for a job because of factors beyond your control.

If you have an employment gap, you don’t need to go to great lengths to disguise it. For example, some individuals rework their resume using a functional style to downplay any periods of unemployment. But this format — in which you list your skills at the top of the document and shorten or omit entirely your work history — could work against you by making it seem like you have something to hide.

Instead, use your cover letter and any face time with the hiring manager to explain how you’ve remained professionally engaged while searching for a new position. Enrolling in a training course, for example, can help indicate that you have kept your skills sharp and that you remain up-to-date with changes in the IT industry.

Also highlight any volunteer work you’ve done. Listing these types of assignments on your resume — as well as part-time or temporary engagements — will show hiring managers you’d be able to hit the ground running if hired.

Expand your horizons

In today’s employment market, a narrow focus could ruin your chances of landing a new position. Instead of setting your sites on a specific job or company, consider what types of employers seek your qualifications and in which industries and even areas of the country there are a shortage of professionals with your skill set.

For example, the healthcare field continues to expand, and initiatives such as the transition to electronic medical records mean that IT professionals will be needed by organizations in this sector for the foreseeable future.

Next Page: Use your personal network -- but not too much

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Tags: IT Jobs/Salary, IT job, tech job

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