7 Things IT Recruiters Wish They Could Tell You

If there were no filters, here's what IT recruiters would say to candidates.

For many highly skilled IT professionals — systems administrator, web developer or software engineer, to name a few — it’s probably not news to you that you’re in demand. In fact, you may even be hearing on a regular basis from firms interested in hiring you.

The ball may be in your court, but there are still a few rules when it comes to dealing with recruiters and hiring managers. No matter what city or town you live in, the tech community tends to be a small one, and you always want an active professional network so you have options if a time comes when you want to make a move.

We talked to four different Robert Half Technology recruiters (who will remain nameless!) and asked them, “If there is one piece of advice you could anonymously share with candidates, what would it be?” Here are seven things they’d tell you:

  1. Have realistic salary expectations. “There are limits, even in a hot market, and you can price yourself out of a job,” said one recruiter. Experienced recruiters know their market and what cost they will bear. Do your own salary research, but also trust their expertise. And don’t forget to consider all aspects of a job offer: Will you get opportunities to learn at a company that you wouldn’t somewhere else, or does the firm offer great perks?
  2. Give your current employer a chance. Before you approach a recruiter, be clear about what’s not working in your current IT job and see if you can change it. One recruiter we spoke to said, “A lot of candidates come to me and want a raise, but they haven’t had a conversation with their current company yet.” Most employers want a chance to fix an issue with a valued employee. If they don't fix it, then it might be time to look.
  3. Pay attention to appearances. Even though many office settings have adopted a more casual dress code, when it comes to interviews first impressions still matter. “Sometimes candidates don’t present themselves as well as they could,” said a recruiter. If you’re applying for a programming job, get an idea of the dress and culture of where you’re interviewing from HR or the recruiter. You may not need a suit and tie, but if you’ll be interacting with C-level executives, you’ll need to dress appropriately. Let interviewers focus on your skills, not your personal appearance.
  4. Be professional when you answer the phone. “We've had candidates who are abrupt, unprofessional or even rude when they answer the phone,” said a recruiter. You don’t know when a hiring manager might call you, so always be polite and professional when you answer the phone. If you can’t talk right then, give the caller a better time to reach you. While texts have mostly replaced voicemails to our cellphones (and frankly, sometimes we don’t listen to them), it’s important to have a somewhat professional message when hiring managers do call. 
  5. Be transparent. If a recruiter is working to place you, but you’ve already received a job offer at another firm, tell the recruiter you’re working with. “We need to know where you are in the job search process so we’re not trying to place someone who is unavailable,” said a recruiter. Also key: Let recruiters know if you have a vacation coming up that might affect an interview time or start date for a job, so they can convey it to hiring managers.
  6. Bring your “A” game. Hiring managers are seeking IT professionals who are truly interested in an IT job. Show enthusiasm in an interview, even if you’re shy or reserved by nature. Ask questions about the technology and company culture during an interview, for example. A recruiter we spoke to said, “Showing up for an interview doesn’t necessarily mean you want the job — you have to demonstrate your interest.” Check out these interview mistakes for more tips.
  7. Don’t burn bridges. You never know when you’ll need a job: “People in tech talk, and if you’re dishonest or unprofessional with one hiring manger, other hiring managers will likely hear about it,” said a recruiter.

Indeed. On that last note, always treat everyone you encounter when searching for IT jobs with courtesy and professionalism. You never know when you’ll run into them again.

And, while your technical skills are essential (and likely pretty sharp!), so are your interpersonal skills, and you’re demonstrating them at every stage of a job search.

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