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How To Find a Much Better IT Job, Even in Recession

Estimated reading time: 6 mins

It wasn’t long ago that I advised you to feel confident in moving jobs, if you’re a master at your subject . I thought it would be interesting to think about more than moving IT jobs, but getting a better IT job. How could you do that?

I’m going to caveat this by saying the following won’t work for everyone. But it will work for lots of you. The advice here is a blend between business acumen, common sense and brain-stuff. It’s easier for me to offer the advice as a list, so here goes:

  1. Make sure your CV/Resume is as sharp as possible – use friends, family, people in your network or a resume writing service to get the best possible resume. This is the common sense bit. Your resume is your personal brochure, and you must think of it that way. Good brochures are not full of irrelevant information, they give the reader enough motivation to move towards the next stage of the recruitment process. In your resume, you must convey your achievements and your experiences. The best statements talk about measurable achievements, e.g. raised productivity in the team from X to Y. Use real numbers as much as possible. So you must say what you achieved in your role, not a statement about the role itself.  Job descriptions are pretty standard nowadays, so there is not much point lamenting on about one. So go heavy on what contribution you made in the role, and go light on what the role was itself. Also, emphasize any management or leadership achievements. You don’t need to have been in a formal management/leadership position to have achieved something in these areas. The main points to get across are your contributions to creating Business Value . Even the most technical of us create Business Value. Emphasize this above all else . Now I am not an advocate of an out-and-out lie on your resume, particularly as references are followed up, but I do advise the use of some poetic license on your Job Titles. Sometimes people achieve much more in their organization than their what their formal title suggests. If this is so, use the Job Title that most closely reflects what you achieved. Last thing, don’t use jargonistic or unnecessarily long/clever words as this won’t impress readers. Your language needs to be clear, concise and easy to read
  2. Get Your Social Profile as Bright as a Pin – this is well worth the time: get your LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile, etc bang up to date and looking very tidy. Headhunters use these to search for candidates, as well as more traditional methods. Make sure your LinkedIn profile states people can contact you for career opportunities (found in Contact Settings). You could also answer questions on LinkedIn (make sure they are high quality answers) as these help build up your reputation as a contributor
  3. Be Targeted in Your Search – job hunting can be very time consuming, so don’t make it worse for yourself by casting your net wide. It’s far better to pursue a small number of opportunities very well than a lot of opportunities badly. Researching potential employers is the best place to start. Look for those organizations that are renowned for a good employee proposition and are ‘Employers of Choice’ in their industry. Search forums, blogs and your Information Catalog to find the best employers in your chosen business sector. On that point, my advice is to stay within your existing sector (e.g. Financial Services) is you’re looking for a  job in a more senior role. It is unlikely an organization will give you a promotion from outside of their industry. If you’re looking to move outside your sector, then target equivalent roles
  4. Choose the Right Kind of Industry – you must choose the right kind of business as this will be a big influence on your job satisfaction. See these articles for more: The Implications of the Product Life-Cycle (Part One) , The Implications of the Product Life-Cycle (Part Two)
  5. Change Environment – if you’re in a large or medium size organization, you’re likely to land a more senior role if you change to a small business or startup. Small businesses need flexible leaders with good industry experience and generally offer better personal and career development opportunities
  6. Be a Usurper – in a recession, competition becomes more aggressive. So be the competition! Look for organizations that use the services of big consultants firms and try and muscle in. In an economic downturn it is often these guys who get the elbow first so it is sensible to line yourself up as a cheaper alternative! Simple economics. This does take some courage, but this is a real sweet spot if you can pull it off. Do a Google search for your chosen organization; look for news relating to a deal with one of the big guys; present yourself as an alternative. Alternatively, pump one of your contacts for information about any programs undertaken by these big firms and send the Program Manager your CV
  7. Be Targeted in Your Choice of Recruitment Agencies – Recruiters are like pimps; they only like you to affiliate with themselves. So by working with a small number of agencies you will be offered the best opportunities first. It’s much like Real Estate – the best properties are offered to favored clients before they are published to the wider pool. By agreeing some form of exclusivity you will be at the top of their list
  8. Be a Good Guy for Recruitment Agencies – take their calls if you can, and call them straight back if you can’t. Don’t mess them about as in reality they have many folks on their books they could call if they are more reliable. Respond with information requested as soon as you can. OK, you might be pandering to them, but so what – it’s for your own benefit in the end!
  9. Connect with Existing Employees – once you have made your shortlist, look on websites like LinkedIn and search for employees in those organizations in similar roles you are looking for. If there are people who you can request introductions from within your network – ask to be introduced. If you don’t have connections, then try contacting them directly and say you’re interesting in joining their organization and would like to know how they enjoy working there. Try to develop a relationship to the point you may even secure some internal sponsorship. Vacancies are also posted directly onto LinkedIn by Hiring Managers, so scour this for anything interesting! If you find something close to what you’re looking for, but not exact, then inquire anyway as there maybe other vacancies available in their organization
  10. Build Good Relationships with HR – it’s really important to contact your selected organizations and understand how they receive applications, e.g. direct or through agencies. Take your time to build a relationship with their HR staff. Use the phone – not email or by snailmail
  11. ‘See’ Yourself in Your Chosen New Role – start forming an image of you actually in your desired job. Build a mental picture of how you look and how you behave in this new role. See yourself this way many times over in your minds eye until you feel a surge of energy and motivation. Repeat this many times throughout the day. Use this picture as a means of guiding your path towards finding your new job, and act upon the thoughts that emerge. By using this image, you are working with your inner thoughts which will be much more in tune with your desires and needs

Do you have any more tips for budding job hunters?

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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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