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FAQs: All your IT job search questions answered

December 19, 2016


1. Resumes and cover letters

How long should my resume be?

Your resume should be 1-2 pages, depending on your level of seniority—and those pages should include ample white space. Read more:

Do I need to write a cover letter?

Typically, you don’t need to write a cover letter to apply for an IT job, especially if you’re working with a recruiter. However, there are some exceptions.

You should include a cover letter for a tech job if:

  • The job posting requests one
  • You’re applying for an entry-level position
  • You’re trying to make a career transition
  • The position requires top-notch communication skills

For more details, read: Career Hacker: Are IT cover letters necessary?

How should I list IT contracting positions?

Unlike in many professions, IT contracting isn’t a resume liability. Hiring managers assume shorter-term jobs were likely contract positions. Go ahead, list the prestigious companies you contracted at and feel free to add “on contract” if you wish. You don’t need to list the agency that placed you. A long-time IT recruiter provides all the details you'll need: The smartest way to list IT contracting jobs on your resume.

2. Interviews

What kinds of questions will I get in a tech interview?

The short answer is a mix of technical, soft skills and behavioral questions. We recommend this Tech Republic article for more detail. Related reading: 5 common IT interview questions decoded and Common mistakes to avoid in your next IT interview.

3. Skills

Which certifications will help my career?

While some IT professionals question the helpfulness of certifications, most employers value them. Our handy IT certifications ROI chart shows which ones boost your earnings the most.

Which IT skills are in demand?

Our 2017 IT Forecast, based on our polling of 700 North American IT leaders, shows these will be the most in-demand IT skills in 2017:

  1. Programmers and developers
  2. Project managers
  3. Networking
  4. Software engineers
  5. IT managers

4. Salaries

Which tech jobs pay the best?

We rounded up 14 of the highest-paying IT jobs—all with average salaries over $100,000. The top three best-paying tech jobs right now are:

1. Cloud Systems Administrator

2. Data architect

3. Database Administrator

How should I ask for a raise?

Carefully! This post gives excellent guidance: 5 tips for asking for a raise without jeopardizing your career (or dignity).

5. Job hunting

How do I get started in IT?

There are several entry-level IT career paths for recent grads:

  • Get a CompTIA A+ certification and find a help desk job. From there you can move into systems or network administration or a management track. Typically help desk jobs do not require a four-year degree. Some people start at a company like Geek Squad.
  • Computer science and other computing grads can seek internships, develop their own applications or contribute to open source projects to gain the experience needed for an entry-level developer or programmer job.
  • Professionals looking to transition to IT have several options, including starting as a technical writer, becoming a subject matter expert in their industry (like a nursing informatics specialist), or becoming a certified project manager. 
  • Many recent grads found success working with a recruiter.

Which IT jobs can be performed from home?

It depends on the employer, but remote opportunities are common for tech support and IT developers.

How do I find a full-time IT job?

Looking to transition from contracting work to a more permanent position? IT employers value culture fit, the ability to learn and commitment in full-time employees. Learn more: What IT hiring managers look for in direct placement candidates.

6. Career advancement

How do I get promoted?

The short answer: keep adding new certifications and skills, develop critical soft skills (especially communication and big picture thinking), and move on to a new job if you're stagnating in your current career. You can find a more nuanced answer here: What you can do to earn the next raise or promotion.

7. Contracting

How long do IT contracts typically last?

IT contracts typically run in the 3-18-month range, but can get extended for years, and many contractors are converted to full-time employees. 

What should I do when my contract is coming to an end?

Make sure to update your resume and LinkedIn profile with any new skills gained. Call your recruiter about a month before your assignment ends to discuss your next opportunity (if they haven’t already gotten in touch).

What are some of the benefits of contracting?

IT contractors typically cite these as the biggest benefits of contracting over more permanent positions:

  • The ability to learn new skills and technologies that will advance their careers
  • Freedom from office politics
  • A predictable 9-5 schedule with little overtime

What is it like working with a recruiter?

At TEKsystems, we follow a typical process for working with new candidates:

  1. A recruiter will bring a candidate in to assess their soft skills and learn more about their career goals and interests.
  2. Some candidates take a technical exam or are interviewed by consultants in similar fields to evaluate technical skills.
  3. As appropriate and desirable opportunities arise, the candidate is contacted to see if they’re interested in applying. If so, the recruiter provides resume advice and insight into what the employer is really looking for beyond a job description. This part is critical, since job ads frequently require skills that are actually negotiable.
  4. Typically, the account manager submits the resume and talks to the hiring manager about why a candidate is a great fit for the job. This ability to tell a story about a candidate—and the trust hiring managers place in our judgment and screening—is a huge advantage over candidates coming in through the black hole, er, application system.
  5. Once an interview is arranged, the recruiter preps the candidate on the personality and expectations of the interviewer. If we’ve placed other IT pros there, we try to connect them with candidates to learn more.
  6. While we have a robust and growing Direct Placement service, the majority of our positions are for contracts that typically all within the 3-6-month range, although many positions get extended for years. Our goal for IT candidates is to continue placing them, so recruiters typically start looking a month out for a candidate’s next position. Recruiters also stay in touch through the life of the assignment to provide feedback and support.

Have any more career and job hunting questions? Ask us in the comments!


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