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How to Land an IT Job in a Troubled Economy - Job Fairs, Resume & Contacts

written by: jeff•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 1/28/2012

Tips on landing an IT job in challenging economic times. What you can do to ensure success amid recession.

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    IT Jobs in a time of recession

    Landing an IT job in a normal economy is challenging at times, but landing an IT job in a troubled economy requires some interesting tactics - read this article to learn, or to refresh yourself on some of the major job-landing tips.

    Attend job fairs

    Too many people discount career fairs, thinking they won't receive offers, but part of the beauty of a job fair is exposure. You get to be in the midst of a group of like-minded people and you get experience networking with your peers and potential future employers.

    Keep your Resume updated, practical and to the point

    Employers in a troubled economy are receiving more resumes than ever, due to layoffs, bankruptcies and other side-effects of an ill economy. The last thing they want to see is a 7-page resume which includes the fact that you like “kayaking.” A practical, eye-catching resume should be no more than, at most, four pages (if you have ten or more years of work experience). Strive to keep the length at 3 pages or less, but take all the full-blown details to the interview in a professional portfolio.

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    Sections of a practical resume:

    Objective – What is the desired outcome of this career choice – what are you seeking to find, to contribute to, and to accomplish?

    NOTE: After 10 or more years experience, you may replace Objective with Technical Summary, and summarize your major career high points.

    Work Experience – This is, effectively, the 'body' of the resume, and will contain most of the detail. Most recent to least recent – Include Company name, location, dates worked and pertinent details of your tasks and accomplishments at each position.

    Education – Give the details of any schools you've attended. Include school name, dates attended, location, degrees or certificates attained and any special status, such as Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, Graduated with Highest Honors, Top 3%, etc. In addition, it may be useful (and sometimes is required) to list your grade-point average.

    MilitaryAlways remember to list any military service. Include the branch, dates served, rank attained, and any specialty training which might be relevant or might help in landing the job.

    Certifications – This is optional, but you may want to highlight your certifications here, as well as within the details of your resume. Include the certification name, date obtained and where obtained.

    HOT TIP: One of the most useful things you can do is customize your resume to the specific job. This takes a bit more effort, because you are basically rewriting your resume to match as closely as possible (without embellishment) to the particular job description; but it shows that you have a keen interest in the position and that you have taken the time to analyze the job description in-depth.

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    Keep a good template cover letter at the ready

    It is imperative to have a cover letter, targeted to the specific job description; but be straightforward and do not include needless embellishment. Include a summary of projects in which you've participated (or managed) related to the specific job you're targeting. It is useful to actually copy and paste the on-line job description into a word processor, then open your cover letter template in a separate word processor and tailor your template to the specific company and job.

    For example: Instead of, “Dear Hiring Manager,” write “Dear [Company Name] Hiring Manager.” Instead of detailing several general IT projects you've done, look at their job description and if it requires, for example, heavy Active Directory Scripting; and if you've done that type of task, tailor the cover letter; i.e., “I performed as Project Lead for Company A's conversion from Novell NDS to Active Directory. I developed complex Active Directory scripts to automate the majority of the conversion.”

    Keep a good list of references at the ready

    Good references are priceless. Make sure you've notified anyone who will be listed on your reference sheet. References should include primarily former co-workers, supervisors and managers with whom you have had excellent relations. A reference sheet should include the reference name, relationship to you (i.e., “My former supervisor at Company A”), reference title (optional in most cases) and reference contact information. Contact information should include an e-mail address and phone number - preferably two phone numbers – a cell phone and a land-line (typically a work number, but some hiring managers want the reference's home phone number). Carry a second reference sheet that has full reference details, including work and home address of each reference – only provide that if requested.

    Register on the major on-line job boards

    Make sure you are registered on the major job boards: Monster.com, DICE.COM and CareerBuilder.com. On these sites, you can set a “scheduled job agent” to. For example, search for targeted jobs that match your qualifications. In some cases, the job agent can be set to deliver the results daily or weekly, depending upon the particular site. Such an agent might be set, for example, to search for jobs containing “Network Administrator” in either the job title or job description or both, depending upon the particular site.

How to Land and IT Job in a Troubled Economy

This two-part series involves both basic and advanced steps for finding and landing an IT job in a troubled economy. Even in good economic times, landing an IT job can be difficult. Don't take any chances - use this methodical series as a sure-fire check-list to follow and enhance your job search.
  1. How to Land an IT Job in a Troubled Economy - Job Fairs, Resume & Contacts
  2. How to Land an IT Job in a Troubled Economy - Networking, Relocation & Qualifications