Job hunting resources: Resume, Cover Letter, and Interview tips

It seems it’s the season of layoffs, so I wanted to share something that I feel might be useful to anyone affected.

No one likes updating their CV/Resume and attending interviews as the best of times, let alone when you’re forced to by decisions that aren’t under your control. Help is at hand though, thanks to a nice free career book and some things we can all do for each other.

A great career resource, for free

The IT Career Builders Toolkit, written by Matthew Moran, has been, and continues to be, a really helpful resource when it comes to finding a job and building a career. Best of all? It’s now available online, for free.

The book is absolutely worth a read in its entirety, but I’d recommend the following chapters:

The links I’ve provided above are the “Print” view, which gets rid of the pagination and adverts (yay).

To give you a flavour, additional chapters cover things like, job searching, networking (with people), and making yourself indispensable.

Help each other

If you’ve worked with good people in the past, you can do something wonderful by taking 5 minutes to recommend them on LinkedIn. Give it context, make it relevant, and try not to make it too gushing (it just ends up sounding fake). Some people may wish to be recommended on certain aspects of their work, so don’t be afraid to ask them before recommending them. Also, don’t recommend people so that they’ll recommend you; if you’re doing that, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

Simple gestures go a long way in situations like layoffs: Don’t be afraid to use your network to see if there’s unadvertised jobs out there, offer support to those affected, maybe offer to proof-read their CV/Resume.

Some other random bits

  • A Job Specification is simply a “Wish list”. If you’re missing a few of the items on the wish list, you should still apply! Your attitude and passion is far more important than your technical skill-set.
  • Some Job Specs are literally, a list of stuff that the last person did, which could be really dull. In the interview, be sure to ask how the role may evolve and progress, what new projects are coming up.
  • Resume reviewers are usually really short on time, so make sure that your Resume is easy to scan (as in, scan it with your eyes).
  • Is the company culture right for you? An interview is a two way discussion: It’s not just about the employer seeing if you’re right for them, you need to make sure that they’re right for you! Feel free to ask questions about anything that would help you figure out if you want to work for them 🙂

Learn some new IT skills

In recent years, there’s been an explosion in the availability of free online IT training, mostly provided by IT vendors. The content is professional and gets you up to speed quickly. You can see a full list in my post: Completely free IT training resources to help diversify your IT career

By Phil Wiffen

Phil is an IT Professional working in Cambridge, England. He generally blogs about useful solutions that he comes across in his work/play.

One reply on “Job hunting resources: Resume, Cover Letter, and Interview tips”

Hey Phil,

Thanks for the mention and link. You may know that I have a new/updated book (not free), Building Your IT Career. I’ll send you a private message about that. I also run The IT Career Toolkit website – with similar, proactive advice and a podcast.

I love your comments about job specifications being a wish list – very true! I work with a number of IT Directors, CIO, and hiring managers. They care very little about all the specifications. It is primarily a way to reduce the number of resumes they need to go through. They care about ONE thing, can you successfully do the job. Highlight projects and their impact much more so than a list of skills. How the skills were applied means more than how many years you’ve used a given technology.

And, if you can showcase your projects (in your cover letter for instance), with short case-studies, and in person through effective networking, you can bypass the standard HR interview and run-around.

Anyway.. thanks again for the mention. I’ll be in touch.

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