Make Yourself the Preferred Job Candidate

Getting that IT job you want means going the extra mile.

You are looking for a job but so are a lot of others out there. You have all the right skills, process knowledge, experience, and grit to deliver anything that you might land ... but so do a lot of others out there. What can you do to put yourself over the top?


What are the job search tricks that can make or break you? What can you do to make yourself stand out as the one and only, the cream of the crop, the person who actually sticks the landing? How can you position your r�sum� to reflect what you already know: that you are the most preferable IT job candidate.


Reach Out


The first step in any job hunt is the "reach out." To put yourself ahead of the pack, you need to make contact. This contact is not achieved by machine-gunning your r�sum� to dozens of recruiters, or by seeding anonymous postings throughout the Internet.


Rather, you need to work through the grapevine. The overall best method of contact is through your network. Networking is the key to landing the best job and starting off as the most desirable, most preferred job candidate.


Get in touch with your professional network. Chat up friends. Drop a personal note to familiar employment contacts. Do some coffee shop meet-and-greets. Use whatever method works best for you — but do make it personal.


Do not reach out using a mediocre contact method. People who make hiring decisions want to hire someone they know. Use your professional contacts to become a person they know, and not just a name at the top of a r�sum� that floated in from the Internet.


A side note on recruiters: Sometimes, these individuals or agencies really do have an "in" with large companies. Oftentimes, however, they are submitting your r�sum� as anonymously and blindly as you would be doing on your own.


If you use a recruiter, be sure that you know who you are working with, and whether they have a good reputation. Most of the time, recruiters are trying to submit the most people to a lot of roles and just "working the numbers." Don't fall into that trap.


Be Bold


OK, now you've made contact and had a few cups of coffee. Maybe you got a lead from a friend, or chatted up a hiring manager. What now? Well, don't expect to reap great success from being shy. It shows prowess and gumption when you ask for what you want.


You don't want to come across as pushy, but you do want to ask questions. Ask for an interview, ask what character traits the company is looking for, ask how your skill set can be applied. Come at each opportunity with a thoughtful, energetic initiative that shows that you want the job


The worst that anyone can tell you is, "No," but chances are they didn't have coffee with you for nothing. In most instances, the people you meet are informally interviewing you, without the implied commitment of a formal interview. Asking for that commitment shows enthusiasm for whatever position you are going after.


In those instances where you come across as being too aggressive, don't waste time on regrets. You probably didn't want that job anyway. Have the confidence to understand that people are looking for top talent — and that you are top talent. Know the line between arrogance and confidence and walk it like Johnny Cash.


Be Genuine


Getting that IT job you want means going the extra mile.

Before you know it, working your contacts and being bold will get you a formal interview. When that happens, be authentic. Do not change what you believe, know, or have learned just to suit the job ... no matter how much you want it.


People are a company's number one asset. If you sense that the company you're meeting with thinks people are disposable, to be cast aside after being used up, do not play along, even if you are led into that line of thinking. Do not change anything you know or believe, no matter what is at stake.


After your interview(s), a quick and thoughtful thank you note goes a long way. Send notes to the people you interviewed with directly, and tell them how much you enjoyed meeting with them. If a recruiter arranged the interview, then be sure to get the contact info of the person you are interviewing with during the interview.


Don't let recruiters water down your heart and sentiment. Recruiters are not you and they don't want you to get the job as much as you want to get the job. They have a job already, and you just the next item on their agenda. Always keep the business relationship in mind when dealing with recruiters, and always focus on your goal.


Your Not-R�sum�


Throughout this entire process, you need an incredible document that explains who you are, where you are coming from, and what you have delivered. What we're talking about here is much more than just a standard r�sum�. You need a career portfolio.


This is a set of documents that both shows how much you have accomplished, and hints at how much more you have in reserve. It's a complete picture of yourself, laid out so your prospective employer can see it clearly.


Remember, employers are looking for top talent. Be sure that you show them you are top talent, and not just a run-of-the-mill IT employee. Whatever you come up with should reflect your individual gifts and abilities. To start with, however, a career portfolio should contain the following:


? Table of contents
? Copy of standard r�sum�
? Educational prospectus: List degrees, certifications, etc.
? Listing of skills and achievements
? Listing of Career goals
? Mission statement or guiding principles
? Professional summary
? Work samples
? Evaluations or recommendations from previous employers
? Listing of publications and research
? Listing of volunteer work
? Listing of awards and acknowledgements
? Documentation of employment and character references


In addition to these details, hire someone for a few hundred dollars to professionally lay out and design your portfolio. You can update and add to it as year pass, but try to preserve the professionally designed look.


Be the Frosting


To summarize, remember that you are a top-tier talent. Preparing for and conducting your job search is like putting a layer of fancy buttercream frosting on an incredible cake. There are thousands of great cakes out there — so concentrate on the frosting, and you will make your dream of landing that next great job a reality.


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About the Author
Nathan Kimpel is a seasoned information technology and operations executive.

Nathan Kimpel is a seasoned information technology and operations executive with a diverse background in all areas of company functionality, and a keen focus on all aspects of IT operations and security. Over his 20 years in the industry, he has held every job in IT and currently serves as a Project Manager in the St. Louis (Missouri) area, overseeing 50-plus projects. He has years of success driving multi-million dollar improvements in technology, products and teams. His wide range of skills include finance, ERP and CRM systems. Certifications include PMP, CISSP, CEH, ITIL and Microsoft.