If your job search strategy consists of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks… and very little is sticking, then it’s time to re-vamp your way of thinking. Applying to multiple jobs with little thought or preparation is not just aggravating to recruiters but you’re wasting your own time as well. Rather than taking an “Apply and Pray” approach to finding your next gig, take a step back and review these five items Dice suggests an IT professional should do before applying to their next freelance opportunity:
Build Up an Online Reputation
Believe it or not, Recruiters have access to the Internet. And they know how to use it. Yes, an Internet-based job like a Web Designer should have a portfolio, but those seeking offline jobs also need an online presence. Recruiters always look beyond a resume to learn what others think of you and if it matches what you say in your resume. When you consciously build up your online reputation, you control the narrative!
Create a List of Verifiable References
The keyword here is verifiable. IT contractors have a different challenge finding great references compared to those in permanent positions. You don’t have the luxury of a long-term relationship with a manager who will remain at their company for a number of years. Instead, your top references could be other contractors who move around and lack the fancy title. You’re also in an industry where the landscape changes fast, so that valuable reference from five years ago may not be able to speak to your skills on a newer technology. When you build a relationship with a credible professional, add them to an on-going list of potential references. Organize that list based on experience and maintain it to keep it up-to-date with current contact information.
Make Sure Your Expectations Align with Reality
In this section, Dice suggests doing some homework to get a solid understanding of the workload, deadline structure and pay to ensure it matches your own needs. This may require a phone call to the recruiter working on the role, but your 5 minute discussion will be well worth your time compared to the hours you spend customizing your resume. Another piece of reality to align is whether or not you are the right fit for the job. In this article we found on The Muse, the author suggests you ask yourself not just if your skills match those requested, but also if your goals match the position and if the client’s culture and workspace fit with your ideal working conditions.
Research the Client
When you work through a recruiter, you have two clients — the staffing agency and the end client — and it’s wise to research both. First, always know what you’re up against before you start working with any recruiter. There are many criteria on which to evaluate an employment agency and how you weigh each one is your personal choice. What’s important is that you’re working with a recruiter you trust. Knowing the end-client is equally as important. For example, if they’re on the list of tech companies most likely to cause burnout or if they have a terrible reputation in how they treat independent contractors, then the higher rate may not be worth your pain.
Understand the Hiring Standards
Finally, Dice warns freelancers that they should not to assume that hiring standards are more relaxed for independent contractors versus full-time employees. A quick contract does not mean your recruiter or client will skip due diligence. Expect that they will conduct detailed reference checks, run background checks, and hold you under a magnifying glass before extending that final contract offer.
What kind of job seeker are you? Do you take similar steps before sending your resume (if so we’d love to hear them) or do you apply for everything that looks like it could be interesting (if so, we’d love to hear if it’s successful). Regardless, share your comments below!