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March 15, 2016

By Lisa Dare

When economic times are tough—or merely uncertain—employers often turn to contractors to fill roles. But as companies grow more confident in the current economic situation, we’re starting to see an uptick in direct placement hiring for IT workers. I talked to several TEKsystems IT Direct Placement account managers about how to make the jump—here are their top suggestions:

What companies want in direct placement IT employees

Employers primarily seek to hire motivated workers who want to grow and add value in a position. “One of the top things IT hiring managers request is not necessarily tech skill-related, it’s cultural, team fit, your ability to grow within an organization and be a contributor outside of simply completing a task,” says Anthony McElroy, a Nashville-based account manager.

Particularly in smaller companies, managers want to see strong communications and customer service skills, adds McElroy. “Application developers may end up helping with customer support or communicating with executive leadership in a small organization. That’s a whole different level of communication.”

Overcoming contractor stereotypes

Fairly or not, hiring managers often view IT contractors as adventure-seekers likely to move on quickly. “The perception is that is folks who like to contract get bored if they stay in one place too long, or they don’t aspire to move up,” says Christopher Fripp, an account manager in Omaha, Nebraska.

Using the staffing agency you already contract with to find long-term jobs can help you overcome that perception. “We can tell a compelling story about a contractor’s desire to move into a permanent role. We’ll have good performance feedback on how they performed at other customers, and can even link up our customers with their peers in other companies to provide references,” says Jason Venn, an account manager in Jacksonville, Florida.

Although cover letters are usually unnecessary for IT jobs, a strong cover letter that explains your desire to settle down can also help your case. “Show that you don’t view a position as just a job, but want to contribute to the organization,” says Fripp.

And don’t despair if you have lots of short-term positions. “Companies are always looking for the most talented workers, and ones who can bring other experiences to the table,” says Detroit-based Account Manager Ellece Campbell.

Packaging contract experience on your resume

You want to find the right balance of demonstrating that shorter positions were under contract (so you don’t look like a job hopper) and clarifying different companies and roles.

If you’ve had a lot of contracts with one staffing agency, the best route is to package all assignments under that, with a section for each assignment. Or if you’ve worked with several agencies, list the jobs separately and add in parentheses which agency you were employed by, e.g., “Contract through TEKsystems.”

Another thing to note: Senior-level direct placement positions often have steeper degree requirements. Although most job seekers should place that information on the last page, you might consider putting it first. “I like putting a tech skills summary and your education on top before you get to your work experience,” says Venn. 

Industry matters

Focusing your job search on the industry in which you have the most experience can shorten your job search. “Particularly in finance and healthcare, they want to be confident you understand what makes that industry different,” says Campbell.

Other tips for becoming a full-time employee

“The first thing to do if you’re working somewhere as a contractor is to go to the decision makers in your current organization and make your goals known to them,” says Venn. “Tell them in the longer-term that you want to be in a full-time position. If you’re already doing a good job and adding value, there might be an opportunity to convert to perm.”

Learn how real IT workers found their dream jobs

Direct Placement Snapshot: The road less traveled

Direct Placement Snapshot: A long-awaited job makes a family’s holiday bright

Direct Placement Snapshot: Finding an IT job 1,500 miles away

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