If you are just starting out in your IT career or trying to find a position in a slow economy, you might want to consider being a contractor or consultant. Typically, consultants are hired by IT firms and they then work on-site with the firm’s client on a specific project. Typically, a consultant’s contract will be 3-6 months in length and will specify the role they will fulfill on the client’s project. The first step to getting a contract position is to get noticed by an IT recruiter.
Recruiters are not Technical
IT recruiters work for IT consulting firms searching for candidates to fill the needed roles in their clients’ projects. As such, an IT recruiter is partly a salesperson and partly an HR person. It is important that you understand this because most IT recruiters are not deeply technical. They may be familiar with some technologies but they often do not know how various technologies are connected or related.
Highlight Your Skills
To land a good contract position, you’ll need to gain the attention of a recruiter and then you’ll need to help that recruiter sell you to their client. The first step to getting noticed is to help the recruiter out by making it easy for them to match your skills to their requirements. One way to do this is to create a section on your resume called “Skills” (I recommend putting this at the top followed by your work experience). In this section list your various technical skills and the number of years that you’ve been using them. List things like languages, operating systems, and protocols.
Make Recruiter’s Job Easy
If you are responding to an ad, address the specific technologies listed in the ad. Remember how I said that IT recruiters are rarely technical. You should not expect a recruiter to know that you’re likely to have a required skill just because you did something in the past related to it. I had a recruiter once tell me that he couldn’t submit for a position because my resume didn’t reflect skill with HTML even though I’d been doing web development for over 15 years. Make it easy for the recruiter so check of their list of requirements and you’ll get your foot in the door.
Adjust Experience Section
Getting your foot in the door is good, but now you’ll need to convince both the recruiter and the hiring manager at the recruiter’s client that you really have those skills. The best way to do that is to adjust the experience section of your resume to address the skills in the requirements for the position. List specific examples of how you utilized a skill at a past position. Be as specific as you can while still being brief. You want to give enough detail to show you have the necessary skill and experience. You can provide more in-depth details in an interview.
Highlight Other Relevant Skills
IT recruiters do more than just send you to an interview with their client. They will often talk you up to the client before your interview and they will solicit feedback from their client after the interview. Their job is to “sell” you to their client. You can help a recruiter do this by helping them understand other skills and experience that you have which may not be directly relevant to the job requirement but that does complement the required skills. The more you can help a recruiter understand what you’ve done in the past and how it relates to their client’s needs, the more successful they will be at selling you.
Select Reliable References
An IT recruiter is also responsible to their client for screening you. This usually means that they will want to check references. Make sure you select good references and that the people whose names you give to a recruiter are expecting to hear from someone checking your reference. If you have done contract work in the past, make sure you get someone at the client company to be a reference for you. They will be better able to speak to your knowledge and skill than the consulting company that you were working for.
Contract positions are very common in IT and are a good way to find a new position. Doing some simple preparation and adjusting your resume can greatly help an IT recruiter sell you to their client.