Sitting in your sweat pants waiting for the phone to ring while job hunting is a daunting task. Tossing out your resumes into the wild blue yonder, yielding a myriad of rejections emails, from employer after employer can leave you (a tech professional or any professional for that matter) a bit discouraged at times. The economy crash a few years ago didn’t make this any easier, sadly.
Lets face the actual truth that many employers, due to the technological age, if they are behind the times, have a “candidate black hole”. You know that place, the mystical, magical place, where your work history, and personal information goes off to die on some server where once glanced over information failed to make the proper impression? Over qualified, under qualified, salary requests too high, equal immediate black hole resumes. It makes you wonder if the magical porridge will ever be “just right”. I can promise that Neil deGrasse Tyson won’t show up in that black hole with your resume/ CV, nor will the 3 bears give a crap about your porridge.
Being recently back in the job market myself, and now on the West Coast, I have had the ability to see both sides of this amazing process. Some companies have an expedited process that either parses your resume for relevant information, or some Universities, that have the MOST time consuming and atrocious processes for applications I have ever seen. Companies like Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and EA have very expedited processes, where you can create a basic profile, apply, and move on. Their HR people simply don’t have enough time during the day to process the amount of information they receive, although they have the means to track it fairly efficiently.
In 15 days, I have had 2 phone interviews thus far, both positions I’m very qualified for, but then the clock ticking begins, and the inner pressure builds as you wait patiently for the next response (if any). Of course, the initial phone call after your first 100 resumes, no matter how quickly it comes, puts a bounce in your step, a beat in your heart, and music straight into your ear buds! It’s happy dance time! Of course, these feelings of emotion spring to exhilaration on the 2nd call, or absolute despair when the email arrives you’ve been shot down, because somehow you managed to answer the irrelevant question, “What is your inner power animal?” incorrectly. Don’t say squirrel. Seriously. Don’t do it.
Personally, my favorite interview questions are the technical ones; that no one is prepared to answer. In my mind, if you have solid references, a good work history, the technical side will be apparent in your history. Of course, NEVER say, “I’d stab the guy who logged into the VCS for no reason!” It’s kinda like telling airport customs in Europe, “The reason for my trip today is so I can take a dump in the EU.” It’s just not going to go over so well. The truth is, while you can log into a device, and find out what damage was done, there are a million correct answers to this obvious hypothetical technical question.
One of the jobs I am currently in the running for REQUIRES 10 years of experience in a specific area. Which is kinda silly. The technology they are using didn’t really even exist in the fashion it does now. Sure, I had experience in working with that technology back then, but I used it to make phone calls home while traveling for a different career. 10 years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist. A blackberry was a separate device than your phone. Flat panel TV’s weighed a ton, and they cost the same amount of money as a cheap car. I’m still qualified, and hope I’m their guy!
My point is, in some cases, some questions just aren’t realistic, but if your still waiting for the phone to ring, chances are your more worried about your wallet, bank account, family, or the fact you’re staying on a buddies couch because somehow you’re back “in the market” for a new job. You don’t want to sound desperate when the phone does ring, and it will eventually, be sure you let the recruiter on the other end of the phone know how much they brightened your day. I’m sure they often forget you’re shoving out resumes like your kid is about to go hungry, and you don’t always remember which position you applied to where.
Sometimes it’s not easy, but me for example, if I put all my skills on paper it takes up 8+ pages. No HR person would ever read that crap. Ever. Hell, I have friends in HR that would rather stab you with stapler than actually answer a, “How’s my resume look?” question. They deal with 100’s of people, 100’s of attitudes, and send out 100’s of rejections regularly. Just let that sink in a moment.
Pro Job Hunting Tips
Write a solid 1-page resume. If you work in a specific field, highlight the high points, software, hardware, or being able to read blue prints… whatever it is you do. Enter an executive “Summary” where the “Objective” used to be. Drop the “Objective” nonsense. Planning for 5 years down the road is nearly impossible in this economic climate anyway. In 3 or 4 well-crafted sentences you should be able to state, what you do, have done, worked with, and your basic skill set. They’ll call and ask for specifics of you fit the bill.
List your last 10 years worth of career work. If you don’t have 10 years, then make sure you list your education specifics. Beyond that, its silly, and unless you saved the planet, an HR person doesn’t give a crap. They’ll especially not give a crap if it’s over 1-page. Two pages are a maximum. Even then you’re possibly playing catch with a trashcan.
An HR person should be able to determine in less than 5 minutes whether you’re qualified for the open position. Don’t apply for things you’re not qualified to do. You’re not only wasting their time, but your own.
If you do multiple things (like I do), make multiple resumes/ CV’s and also make different formats. .docx, .pdf, .doc, ect. It is not unusual to show that you care enough to tailor your resume to a specific position. Look like you give a crap. It shows! You have to sell yourself on paper to someone who doesn’t know you in less than a minute. You may be clever, witty, and possibly even the best in town, but if you skimp on “the awesome”, someone else already beat you to the job.
At the end of the day, it can all be VERY discouraging. Even after all this work, days, weeks, sometimes, even months can go by. Rejection after rejection. Be persistent, and don’t give up. Some people may forget you’re human, and going out and waiting tables while trying to find real work is just as tough. Because that temp job knows you’ll leave once something real comes along. I know many IT nerds, and most of them would suck in retail, or customer service. They are better off web building, directing your calls, or fixing your laptop, I promise.
Most importantly, when the phone DOES ring. Be polite, answer the questions as best you can, stay calm even though you want to climb out of your own skin you’re so happy. When it goes well, be sure you tell the recruiter how much they made your day. They’re human too. If they can make your dreams come true, they are also rewarded emotionally. So, be kind first. Be memorable. If you make it to round 2, you’re doing super.
Like most of you reading this, I am in the trenches along with you. Fighting for my next chance at where I hope will be my home career for years to come. I am supposed to have a 2nd phone interview with the huge global company tomorrow. Wish me luck! I need it, but most of all, I’ve learned quite a bit about this process over the last couple weeks from the corporate side of the house. I have hired many people in my life as well, so I hope all of you can learn something from my own trials and failures. Find something you love, not just a paycheck.