Interview with an IT Recruiter
"Interview with an IT Recruiter
By Sacha Cohen
This week, we turn the tables and interview Patrick Reuss, a staffing consultant at Frictionless Commerce Incorporated. He explains the importance of soft skills, how to make yourself more marketable and the best skills to have in 2000.
Tech Jobs Expert: What can applicants do to make themselves more marketable?
Patrick Reuss: They should make their resumes and cover letters easy to follow, but still as detailed as possible. Hiring managers on average, spend as little as 30 seconds reviewing resumes, so it is important to provide enough information about yourself to be considered further. Cover letters must state a career objective, current job, job sought, past accomplishments and the value they bring to the company. Letters must be concise, well organized and should not repeat what is stated on the resume.
Resumes come in all shapes and sizes. For more creative positions, such as a graphics designer, resumes should have URL addresses and/or Web sites that will have samples of this person's work. For a software engineer, it is important to highlight job responsibilities, programming languages, development platforms and whether they work in a team environment. Often, hiring managers are not technical or familiar with the specifics of open positions (beyond what is written in a job description), so it is important to highlight the desired skills on a resume so time is not wasted.
In order to get to the top of the resume pool, candidates should target their resumes toward a specific job and outline the experience relevant to that position. For example, if an applicant is seeking a quality assurance engineering position that requires experience in a Windows environment, candidates must highlight where and how frequently they test in this type of platform environment. For people with more than five years of experience, a resume of more than one page is fine. Less-experienced candidates or career changers should focus on related course work and/or degree programs supplemented by practical work experience such as internships.
TJE: What specific soft skills are recruiters looking for in tech applicants? For example, management experience, communications skills, general personable demeanor, and so on? Are there any big don'ts during an interview with a recruiter that job applicants should steer away from?
PR: Candidates must do their homework before interviews. Showing an interest and knowledge of a company goes a long way in the interview process. Moreover, it saves time and allows the interviewer to better get to know the candidate. At Frictionless, we like to see candidates who are enthusiastic about the start-up experience, while also understanding the long-term opportunity. Candidates who are job hoppers -- focused solely on making the extra buck or only using the latest technology -- come across as egotistical or lack the dynamic personality we are looking for. For us, it is essential that we like our colleagues and that every employee adds to our unique culture -- this is what makes Frictionless a great place to work. Technology proficiency is important, but enhancing our culture and really being an active part of our team is also essential.
TJE: What are some of the most important skills to have in the coming year?
PR: Technical skills are invaluable. Software developers should be proficient with Java, XML, HTML or object-oriented development technologies. Many technical publications focus on the latest technologies that are most sought after by companies. Quality assurance engineers should gain experience with the latest automated test tools such as Segue SilkTest, QA Partner, RSW e-Suite. Database developers and administrators should use the latest versions of relational databases and understand the concepts of each version.
From a soft-skills standpoint, candidates should be up-to-date with the latest market trends in technology, and follow newsmakers in the industry. Understanding what competitors are doing creates a better self-awareness and can help strategize marketing and business development efforts. Being well connected within an industry can only result in high rewards whether it comes to business development, careers, partnerships, etc. Finally, understanding business models and how companies make money is always good knowledge to have.
TJE: Any tips for career changers/entry-level people trying to break into technology? Is it a good idea for those people to work with recruiters or do recruiters mostly focus on people who already have industry experience?
PR: One of the biggest challenges career-changers/entry-level candidates face is getting in the door. Hiring managers will take chances on less-experienced applicants if they can demonstrate what they have learned during an interview. It does not mean becoming an expert. Instead, be able to explain what courses you chose, why you selected them and what you have learned because of enrolling in that course or degree program. Internships and co-ops in addition to these degree programs will only help candidates gain practical work experience, and if they are successful, gain a strong cadre of references outside the academic world who will verify a person's accomplishments. Finally, the Internet is new to everyone. Very few of us are experts in the Internet, but many of us can bring relevant experience from other industries. Knowing how to package and translate this outside experience into this new media is very helpful.
Recruiters, who have a well-known reputation, do their research in order to represent your interests, and provide you with feedback on a regular basis are the types of individuals who should represent you. Avoid the pushy, hard-nosed, money-hungry recruiters that view you as a "walking dollar bill." There are so many agencies to choose from, but the challenge is finding the recruiter or agency that will not only represent your interests, but will treat you the way you expect to be treated. This includes providing you with enough information about the company, the position and the hiring manager(s) before you interview there and telling you where and when you resume is submitted and asking your permission to send it. If a recruiter or agency fails to meet the aforementioned objectives, do not, under any circumstances, have them represent you."
<Note from JobFairy.com: True, all of these are red flags that the agency representing you is less than ethical. But so many different recruiters will be trying to place you that I wouldn't be too concerned. And as for the skills you should acquire, the best way to figure out what companies will be wanting is to pay attention to big sales pushes by major software concerns, read industry journals, listen to the buzz at user groups, and read the job listings at least weekly, even if you're not looking for one. Certain buzz words will keep popping up again and again, and if you don't have the skills you then need to take the steps to either become familiar with or master the technology in question, depending on your career needs and goals.>