The technology jobs game

Compared to other jobs I’m someone that travels around. I follow interesting problems and promising ideas around the world wherever I can find them. As a web developer I can get a job anywhere in the world, but finding that one job is another challenge. Through a web of recruiters, sub-recruiters, job websites, venture capitalists, start-ups and whatever you can think of you can find the next best thing. The web is a big place with different kinds of players that make this work. You can categorize the players into three groups: employers, candidates and service providers. Employers are the ones that have the job, candidates want the job and the service providers assist in making the connection between supply and demand.

I’ve been on both sides of the table, both as a candidate and as an employer. I’ve also dealt with plenty people offering me a job or offer to search for me. So what do I know about this “game”?

The candidate

Your goal:

You want to find that killer job, that shoe that fits you perfectly. It must fit your skill set, the work environment you prefer and the people you like.

The preparation:

Preparation is everything if you are looking for a new job. Without a LinkedIn profile, Github account, blog, personal website or anything else out there it is hard for people to find you. Spend some time arranging this as it is your business card to the outside world. Also have your résumé ready in at least your natural language and English as different companies might require different kinds of résumés.

One thing about preparation is that it also gets you better opportunities. Without an online presence the chance of being asked for a job is slim. If you do have a good online presence the chances of being asked for a job increase exponentially.

Don’t:

  • … forget the proper format. if you are applying for a job and are writing a letter to the company, please make it a proper letter.
  • … be rude. Even though this might sound obvious many candidates are not always as polite as they should be.
  • … be late. Tardiness is the last thing you want to show to your new employer.
  • … under or over dress. You know what kind of company your going to and they are looking for someone that fits in. under-dressing makes you look like a bum and overdressing makes it look like your trying too hard. Look up what kind of culture reigns within the company. Look at company pictures, the style of the website or even the profiles of the people you are interviewing. Find the correct dress code and go a bit more fancy to make sure you are putting in a good enough first impression.
  • … be ignorant. You know what position you are applying for and who you are talking to. Anything less will make you look like a fool. Do research on the people who are interviewing you, take a good look at the company structure, ideals and any other data you can find about them. This knowledge allows you to show interest in what they are doing. This is always a good thing. It also allows you to pick the correct dress code…
  • … whine about tests. Yes, you have a degree. Yes, you will need to be tested for your skill. Especially in the development field almost nothing you learn in school applies to the job. The industry moves faster than any school ever could. A company will need to figure out if your really as good as you say you are. You’d better come prepared!
  • … just answer questions. The interview is a two way street and by asking about things the company does it also shows you are interested in the position. Be interested, eager and even critical about things the company does. I’ve won over people during an interview by being critical about what they do. Asking the difficult questions shows you understand what is going on and what the real challenges are of the business.

Tips & tricks

  • If you are ready for it, play with it a little bit. Play with the style of going to interviews that works best for you. A more confident, laid back or very business-like approach. What works for you is very personal but experimenting with your style allows you to figure that out.
  • Keep you profiles updates, accurate and supported at all times. You never know what might come along.
  • Get into the crowd and get yourself out there at user groups and other technology related events. The best place to meet people from your field who might have a job for you.

The employer

Your Goal:

Get a new employee that fits the profile that you are looking for and do this in certain time-frame.

The preparation:

Even companies fail in the preparation for their interview rounds. Not doing enough research on the one being interviewed, not having some sort of test prepared. I myself even had to do interviews without knowing if we would even have the budget to employ them if they passed the interview… A situation I do not prefer! One of the things companies also forget frequently is to have a steady stream of people to interview. If there is two months between interviews and you are not sure about the first one… is he going to wait for the second one to be interviewed? Time is in many cases a factor and I myself have disappointed multiple companies by having to say that they were just too late.

Just make sure you have budget, a steady stream of people to interview and enough witty questions and tests to run on the interviewees.

Don’t:

  • … be vague. Interesting enough I’ve seen many position descriptions that had no idea what they were talking about or even what they were looking for. Tell the prospect employee what you are looking for and what you will be asking them to do when they work for you.
  • … be silent. Keep communicating after a successful interview, keeps them in the loop so you have a chance with them.
  • … lie. Be honest about the one you are interviewing. Although you might want to be gentle if someone is doing horrible and they are not suited for the job please tell. It stops wasting both of your time and allows the one being interviewed to learn about how others perceive his or her skill level.
  • … rush. If you are interviewing someone in the field of technology take your time to get to know them, their ideas and ideals. Give them some time to display their skill as not everyone will be steamed up and ready within the first 20 minutes of the interview.
  • … be one way traffic. I had many different interviews but there is only one I ever walked away from. During that interview I was on trial, I was the one being asked the questions. An interview is a two way conversation. As much as you may not like it both parties are on trial! The candidate has their own uncertainty about the company that interviews them. Therefore present yourself, talk passionately about what you do and why you would like me to join you.
  • … ask stupid questions. Have you ever asked the question: “Why should we hire you?”. That is a stupid question… If you didn’t know why you wanted to hire me, why did I come to an interview in the first place? I always tell people I’m not the best programmer you can hire ( I really am not! ). I’ve had several times where the answer by someone from HR was: “This is a programming position, why would we hire you then?”. That is bluntly a wrong question, and even a bit rude. Now I have to waste at least 10 minutes explaining what is on my website: “building software requires you to be more than just a programmer”. Do your homework and ask interesting question like; “We are using X, you stated that you’ve used it before, what is your opinion of X?”, “We have several outspoken people on the team, we feel that you have a more toned down personality, how will you make yourself heard within the team?” or “You’ve seen what we do, if there is anything you can change right now, what would it be?”. Be smart, sharp and diplomatic with your questions. This get’s you the best results.

Tips & tricks:

  • Make em sweat a little. Even though this might not be pleasant for the candidate if he or she cannot handle it. It is a very good test to figure out if they are cut out for the job. Take them outside of their comfort zone and see their reaction.
  • Test them technically yourself. It takes a certain kind of person to be a tester, it takes another for design and another for coding. Test their skill but also their personality. Do this by having them do a test that has a geek reference. Or let them write something simple with variable names that need to be decided on. They way people fill in the result show part of their personality.

The service provider

Your goal:

Connect the dots. Find the person that suits a certain position and find a specialist a position they will be happy with. An interesting puzzle of different parties and different interests.

The preparation:

My biggest beef with many recruiters is their unwillingness they properly prepare. I have ton’s of information on the internet. My websites/profiles are full with details about how I work and what my ambitions are. Please read it before getting in contact with me. Read about the candidate, but don’t forget to read about the employer as well. Knowledge is power in this case as your job is to connect the interest of the one looking for a new job with the needs of the employer.

Don’t:

  • … tell me you have the job of a lifetime. I’ve heard that a thousand times before and everybody else has a job of a lifetime to offer. Don’t! Just don’t. Tell me what you really have! Saves the both of us a lot of time…
  • … contact me without having a contact with the job you are offering. This is the most sneakiest kind of deal a recruiter can do. Offer someone a job without actually having had any real solid contact about a position at a company. Gives the candidate hope that you can not deliver on. Bad business if that comes out…
  • … keep them in the dark. Tell both the candidate and the employers what is going on. It’s a bad experience, candidate or employer, if you ask what the status is and you just don’t reply. Even if you don’t have any news to tell you need to tell that to the people you are working with. Silence is bad, telling them there is no news is at least not silence.
  • … steal. I’ve had this several times now during the past few years. as an employer you are working with recruiters, then a few days later you get a job offer from one of the recruiters that they have a new offer for you. Wait what!? Yes, if your in business with someone in finding new personnel it is not a good idea to offer them or anyone working for them a new job… Also, calling directly after 1 year of employment for a person you placed. Not cool!
  • … slack off on the job. You are looking for interesting people who want to work for exiting jobs. Going that extra mile and being enthusiastic about the position transfers over to the people you are talking to. In the process making your “sale” a lot easier.
  • … be a proxy for all communication. As a service you provide the getting the right people together. After the connection is made step out between the two parties and move yourself to the sideline until the deal is done. You are a support for both parties and you should never get in the way of the deal getting done. If either the employer or the candidate needs you they will ask you for help.

Tips & tricks:

  • Call me! Although I’ve had many good offers via email or LinkedIn I always was instantly more interested by someone who called me. An email can be copied, a call is personal. If the candidate you think fits that hard to fill position has their phone number, Skype name or any other direct voice contact out there, use it! Direct vocal contact and direct feedback make it a lot easier to transfer your enthusiasm about the position.

Now; Candidates go out there and show what you’ve got, employers read about your future employees and service providers help to connect the dots. I hope this article helps you get there.

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  1. #1 by stress reduction on 2012/11/27 - 04:05

    Hello, after reading this remarkable post i am too cheerful to share my know-how here with colleagues.

  1. The technology jobs game Categories Archives Tags @yopefonic Google Reader shares « CSS Tips

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