While many pieces of job-hunting advice are timeless, some of the tips you’ve heard in the past may not hold true in a post-pandemic market. To avoid being stymied by guidance that has become obsolete, here are some once-valid job-hunting tips that may no longer apply to searches for technologist positions.
Don’t Put Your City and State on Your Résumé
In the past, someone might have told you to leave your city and state off your résumé. Employers don’t like long-distance candidates or lengthy commutes, they might have added.
In a world recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, such advice no longer applies. Companies large and small have embraced hybrid and remote work. The rise of video conferencing and collaboration tools has opened new ways for teams to seamlessly work together—even if the members of the team live thousands of miles away from one another.
Couple that with a low unemployment rate for tech— the unemployment rate for IT occupations hit 2.4 percent in March, far below the 6 percent nationally for all occupations—and it’s clear that companies are more than happy to overlook where you live if you have the right skills and experience they need for a vital position.
“Recruiters are conducting national searches to increase the size of their talent pools and you should, too,” advised Kathy Harris, managing director for technology and quant analyst recruitment firm Harris Allied.
Before the pandemic, for example, fintech and financial services companies would not have considered someone from across the country, largely because they didn’t want to pay relocation costs. Nowadays, Harris is placing San Francisco-based engineers in companies located in New York and Chicago.
“Don’t limit yourself to local or ‘remote-only’ when searching for jobs,” she advised. “Companies that want to hire the best talent are flexible, so just assume that they’ll let you work remotely.”
Networking is the Best Way to Land Your Dream Job
While networking can still be an effective way of finding a new job, it’s not as helpful as it used to be. When technologists and managers were working in the same physical office, it was easy for someone from your network to pass along your résumé to a hiring manager. However, studies by Microsoft and others have revealed that the shift to telecommuting has limited the contact between managers and remote workers, shrinking people’s networks.
As a result, you may need to reach out to hiring managers directly about open positions, or submit more applications to land your dream job.
Connections Matter More than Credentials
You’ve probably heard that having personal relationships in a company can overcome a lack of experience or a poorly written résumé. But with organizational connections declining, that’s no longer the case.
“Today, technologists need a pristine résumé to even get an interview,” Harris said. Recruiters and hiring managers are taking deeper looks at your certifications and project portfolios to determine your strengths as a candidate. Sites such as HackerRank also provide a way for you to display your knowledge.
Never Consider Jobs with Lower Titles
Conventional wisdom says that taking a job with a lower title could hurt your future career. But technologists know that many job titles are inconsistent with the actual position, especially if they’re in charge of mission-critical systems. Depending on the size of a company, for instance, a network engineer might have responsibilities that essentially make them the CIO.
Moreover, many descriptions “went out the window” during the pandemic, with technologists taking on unexpected duties. Mobile app developers suddenly had to become experts in managing entire cloud platforms; cybersecurity experts found themselves advising the CEO on mission-critical aspects of the tech stack.
To avoid limiting your opportunities, do not use a specific job title as a keyword or search term when searching for suitable positions—and don’t judge a position by its title. Read the entire job description to evaluate the fit. You can always negotiate for a higher title once you receive an offer.
No News is Bad News
If you didn’t hear back from a hiring manager within a week or two after a job interview (a practice known as ghosting), most job seekers would automatically assume that they didn’t get the job and move on.
Today however, weeks of radio silence doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the running. “It’s taking longer to gather feedback after interviews with everyone working remotely,” Harris said. “Getting to the offer stage requires more patience than before.”
Focus Your Search on Large Companies if You Want Job Security
If you’ve heard that big companies offer better job security, professional development and upward mobility, you’re not alone. Research shows that job seekers flocked to larger companies during the pandemic. But is this the right strategy?
Data from the BLS shows that the greatest overall employment losses shifted to larger and larger employers each month from March through July 2020, during the onset of the pandemic. At the same time, startups and small businesses received fewer applicants and a diminished talent pool, meaning there were fewer job seekers competing for each spot. Small companies are already lean, so focusing your search on firms with fewer than 100 workers can sometimes increase your chances of landing and keeping a job.
Don’t Leave a Full-Time Job for a Contract Position
Contract work is often viewed as short-term, with little opportunity for full-time employment. Today however, tech leaders value talent regardless of status, so most are willing to offer extensions or full-time employment to top contractors at the end of a contract. Bottom line: Don’t discount contract work if you’re looking for a full-time job.
Recency, Frequency and Quantity are the Keys to a Strong Online Presence
Sharing articles, news and reposts several times a day won’t increase your profile views beyond a basic level, warned Scott Engler, CEO of BYOB Coaching and Consulting and author of the upcoming book: “I Love Looking for Work (Said No One, Ever).”
“LinkedIn has become completely saturated,” Engler said. To set yourself apart, replace meaningless social media activity with attraction marketing, he advised. For example, draw interest from hiring managers and recruiters by inviting members of your network to a presentation showcasing an emerging technology or unique solution you’ve created.
“Stop playing defense and start playing offense if you want to establish and maintain a strong online presence,” he concluded.