Nothing brings the value of a strong professional network to light like a job search. While many job seekers focus on creating new connections, your old network is also highly valuable. Throughout one’s career, it is often easy to let these prior relationships fall by the wayside. However, making an effort to cultivate that network today can yield significant returns when you are looking for new employment opportunities.
If you have neglected your prior connections, here are some tips to help you reconnect.
Embrace Social Media
Most social media networks provide a suitable path to reconnect with co-workers and supervisors past. LinkedIn is particularly well positioned for this task, though Facebook and other avenues can also be effective.
When reaching out, don’t be surprised if not everyone responds. Depending on how long it has been since you have communicated and the nature of your exit from one another’s lives, not all parties will be immediately interested in reestablishing the relationship. Make sure your initial messages do not focus on a request. Instead, remind them of your previous connection and express an interest in keeping in touch. If the original request is well received, work to reconnect before you ask for assistance in your job search.
If you regularly attend conferences, conventions or large meetings, you may be able to reconnect more organically. By being involved in the event, you show you are still committed to the industry, and face-to-face interactions often hold more potential than those based on social media.
Regardless of whether members of your previous network attend, you have the opportunity to network with other professionals who may also make valuable additions to your network (and you to theirs). Consider the time spent at these events as an investment in your professional future, and take advantage of everything they have to offer.
Set Social Appointments
Regular interaction in person is critical to maintaining your connections. Consider scheduling regular meetings or social appointments to catch up in person. Even a simple coffee break can help keep your network alive. Don’t always talk about work and professional opportunities. Instead, use those topics to pepper a conversation that resembles two friends catching up on each other’s lives.
All relationships require maintenance. Once you reconnect, make sure you follow up to keep the connection strong. If you reconnect over social media, review the other person’s posts and add comments, share their articles or simply like the content. Complement these efforts with other forms of communication when your schedules align.
Be an Asset
Keeping a healthy network involves effort on your part as well. Consider what you have to offer other members of your network and give of yourself freely. By being there when someone else needs help, you can cement the relationship over the long term while doing something positive for someone else.
If you are currently looking to expand your network or are interested in finding new employment options, The Armada Group has the skills needed to match candidates with the best opportunities available in their field. Contact us and see where our professional network can take you.
When you do the same thing over and over again, you develop expertise. Being an expert is valuable in your career, but sometimes doing the same thing over and over again gets boring. Changing technical specialties gives you the chance to develop new skills and new challenges, and it doesn't have to mean taking an entry-level position and salary. Use these five tips to transition to a new IT specialty, and find new excitement at work.
Choose the right new specialty.
Before making a change, make sure the position you're moving into offers the kinds of challenges you enjoy. If you've been working in technical support, but hate dealing with users, you'll probably find working as a business analyst equally frustrating. But you might enjoy working as a QA tester, which often has little need for interacting with end users and can leverage your familiarity with the kinds of problems that occur in systems.
Discuss making a change with your manager.
While your current employer may view you in a specific way and have trouble seeing you in another capability, if you have a good relationship with your manager, talking with them can help make a transition feasible. Your manager can let you know what skills you'll need to make the move, inform you about current openings, and talk you up to the hiring manager for the new position.
You'll need to develop the skills needed for the new specialty before applying for a transfer or job with another firm. Take advantage of any training your company offers; companies often have libraries of online courses available to any employee. You can also take courses outside of work. Completing a sequence of courses and earning a recognized certificate will attest to both your skills and commitment to do the work in the new specialty.
Leverage your current experience.
When you prepare your resume and answer interview questions, relate your past and current project experience to the demands of the new role. For example, if you worked as a QA tester, you've developed insights into the kinds of bugs coders create that can help you write less buggy code if you switch to a programming role.
Consider working for a smaller company.
In smaller businesses, employees need to wear many hats. You won't be locked into a single specific job function, giving you the chance to experience many roles. Not only will you develop multiple skill sets, you'll get insights that help make sure the next specialty you commit to is one you'll enjoy for the rest of your career.
Ready to make a change? At The Armada Group, our recruiting specialists see you as a whole person, not just the skills you've used in your previous jobs. We'll work with you to understand what you want to achieve in your career and match you to job opportunities that allow you to grow. Contact us to seamlessly switch to your new IT specialty.
Getting hired for a technical position requires proving you have the technical chops. Your resume needs to indicate that you have knowledge of the technologies needed for the job and that you know how to use them effectively. To demonstrate that, your resume shouldn't just list acronyms; you should describe the way they were applied to your projects.
But having technical skills is only half the battle. Every job requires soft skills as well as the hard technical skills. Showcasing those on your resume will make it stand out in a pile of qualified candidates who all have certificates that attest to their technical capabilities.
Identify the Soft Skills Needed
Before adding soft skills to your resume, identify the soft skills needed for the job. This may be explicitly stated in the job description, or they may be implicit. Review the skills the employer requires, as well as other soft skills, to decide which to highlight in your resume. Soft skills employers typically look for include:
• conflict resolution
• working under pressure
• problem solving
• oral communication and presentation skills
• technical writing
Once you've determined the skills needed for the positions you're applying for, review your previous work history to identify ways in which you've demonstrated those abilities. You'll need to be able to encapsulate the skill in a brief one or two-sentence story that places it within the context of your work. For example, presentation skills could be supported by stating, "Presented the proposed project design to the firm's chief architect, which led to the design's approval and the project being funded."
Add the Soft Skills to Your Resume
Include the soft skills on your resume. While it's common to have a summary section that simply lists your hard technical skills and certifications, simply listing soft skills isn't effective; they need the supporting context around them. If your resume is chronologically organized, include the appropriate soft skills with the details of your work for that employer. Although functional resumes are generally not preferred, if you choose that format you can include a section for each soft skill and include the details.
Whatever mix of hard and soft skills you bring to your technical job search, The Armada Group can help you find the right job for your talents. We focus on getting to know you and your abilities, and combine that with our 20 years of experience matching candidates and opportunities to shorten your search and help you achieve the career success you desire. Contact us to learn how we can help you find a job that will use your hard and soft skills to challenge and thrill you.
You've got all the right skills on your resume but still can't find the right job. Use these six job search tips to amp up your search and make the right career move.
Be prepared to prove your skills.
If you put an acronym or technical skill on your resume, be prepared to show you know what you're talking about. That means more than being able to explain what the acronym stands for. More and more companies will probe your technical skills in detail, either by having you complete an online exam or by answering tough questions at your interview. It's fine to brush up before the interview—it's even fine to admit during an interview that you need to brush up. But don’t claim skills you don't have. Even if you somehow fake it through the interview, if you get hired, but can't get the work done, you'll be looking for another job.
Expect a blind audition.
Performers aren't the only ones who need to audition for work, but those auditions are often more about appearance than talent. In technology, companies are turning to blind auditions to make sure they focus on talent and to avoid discrimination.
Meet coders and employers at hackathons.
Hackathons are a great way to learn and build skills, and they're also great for making connections. If you participate in a hackathon, you may have an "in" with a corporate sponsor. You'll also get to know other coders who may be able to recommend you for opportunities with their company.
Don't chase the hot technologies.
There's plenty of opportunity on the trailing edge, not just the leading edge. It may not be as glamorous as Hadoop, but knowing Cobol is still needed for plenty of tech jobs. While you may want to hold out for working with new technology, if your job search is taking longer than you'd like, consider looking for a position that works with more established tools.
Practice your people skills.
Even technical jobs require interacting with other people, and most companies will assess your interpersonal abilities as well as your technical chops. Behavioral interviews go beyond asking what you've done and the technical tools you've worked with to probe how you handle situations.
It gets frustrating to go to interview after interview, but it's important to keep your energy up. Employers want to hire someone who's excited to come to work every day, someone who cares about the work, not just the paycheck. Make sure you express your enthusiasm for the business and project, and that you can see yourself making contributions there long term. Companies want to hire people who'll stick around—they don't enjoy the search process any more than you do.