Open Letter to Job Seekers in Information Technology

Dear Job Seeker,

So you’re looking for a new job in I.T.?

First, how many users group and software groups do you visit each month? These are a GREAT way to meet potential co-workers and potential employers. To find them, search on meetup.com for “software”, and, separately, “users groups”, and also “developer”.

There are tons of virtual events that are free that you can participate in.  Find your local vendor events.  For example, Microsoft, Oracle, https://www.sqlsaturday.com/, and https://confs.tech/.  Speak to local recruiters and find out what events they will be attending.  I’ve had good luck finding jobs through TEKsystems, but there are hundreds of recruiters looking for you! Make sure they can find you.

Second, if you recently graduated, you are probably used to giving presentations.  Even if you didn’t, you should consider speaking at (virtual) events for the users’ groups or the development community.   Develop a 40-50-minute presentation that is code-heavy instead of PowerPoint heavy that shows an interesting thing.  Join a local Toastmasters club to hone your public speaking skills.

If you’ve done a challenging project or run into a thorny issue that was especially difficult to solve, those make great topics.  If you know Microsoft SQL or Azure, you should consider speaking at SQL Saturday events.  For example, I occasionally speak at SQL Saturday and for one of my sessions, I speak about Why Microsoft Developers need to learn Python because of my love for using Python to solve utility-type problems.  

A lot of firms are “not hiring” right now, but they will hire a candidate who is outstanding.  How do they find out you’re outstanding?  They see you at an event.  Use those events to ask questions, speak up, speak out, network, and meet people.

Third, learn a new skill.  Do you have a particular area of interest yet?  For example, I move data.  I am an SQL Expert.  I write C# and Python.  But I also create Alexa skills.  I’m not a web/HTML/CSS/JavaScript full stack developer.  I know this and so it lets me focus on backend technologies.  I’m also a Microsoft guy.  I don’t write Java.  Period.  And I don’t prefer to work with Oracle or DB2.  I’m (mostly) a SQL Server and Azure developer.  I’m also dipping my toe into the AWS pool.  Careers in I.T. require a commitment to life-long learning.  Some of that time is spent deepening and sharpening your skills in certain areas, but some of it should be spent learning new languages, new techniques, development patterns, unit testing tools, agile methods, and more.

Fourth, consider teaching.  Do you have Python skills?  Can you learn quickly?  Are you quick-witted and “fast on your feet”?  If so, practice teaching.  Put together a 5-minute video of you teaching something, anything technical, and put it on YouTube.  Then add the link to your resume and LinkedIn profile.  Check out Doodly for an alternative way to make training videos.

Fifth, start a technical blog.  As you learn a new skill, you will explore technologies and will probably have to “figure stuff out”.  When you do, blog about it.  I still get hits on one of the technical articles that I wrote years ago about a weird problem with Maven.

Finally, specialize.  Figure out what it is that gives you energy, jazzes you, or otherwise gets you motivated.  The aspect of computing that is so awesome for you that time passes and you don’t notice.  Focus on the languages and skills where time flies.  You don’t have to be great at it.  You can learn that.  But you can’t learn passion, you have to find it.  Whatever that thing is that inspires you, that is your strength.  For example, I always aspired to move up the corporate ladder, but that’s not my strength.  I am so much happier solving a complex computing problem.  I eat them up.  And that is my strength.  That and teaching.  I really enjoy sharing my skills with others so they don’t have to figure it out the hard way.

Well, that should be plenty for a start.

Good luck in your job search,
Simon Kingaby

P.S.  LinkedIn.  Make sure your LinkedIn profile is AWESOME.  It is the best way to get the attention of recruiters.  They spend hours googling and searching for people with specific skills.  Make sure they can find you for your specific skills.