By:John Hutchins, Vice President of Client Services
Unemployment among information technology (IT) professionals is extremely low. In the IT staffing business, it is reminiscent of 1998 and 1999 in terms of there being plentiful job orders, but a scarcity of talent. Unfortunately, unemployed IT executives are still having a difficult time finding their next management position. Why is this? And, more importantly, how does an IT executive find a job?
IT executives have trouble finding a job, even in a hot IT job market, for a variety of reasons with the biggest reason probably being the evolution of the IT industry itself. In the 1990s and even into the early 2000s, IT was separate from business. Today, it is an integral part of every business, every sector, every industry. It used to be that IT executives came up through the technical ranks, starting their careers as developers or in infrastructure support. Today, every MBA program includes a significant technology training component to their curriculum. As a result, nearly every graduate is technology savvy and, in theory, capable of moving into an IT executive role. Add to this the fact that most employed business executives, even if they graduated decades ago, have been forced to add technology to their repertoire. With the increased pool of viable IT executive candidates, it can be very difficult to set yourself apart from the crowd and get that interview, let alone that job.
The IT industry has evolved, but for IT executives, finding a job means returning to the tried and true methods of yesteryear. Technology has made it easier to apply for jobs, but it also has made it much easier for recruiters and human resource professionals to screen out candidates. Since IT executives are soft skills focused, rather than hard skills focused, as an IT executive it is nearly impossible to set yourself apart from the crowd using merely a resume and the internet. You need to get out there, shake some hands, kiss some babies – you need to network!
Don’t waste your time submitting resumes via the job boards or applying through a corporate website. Instead spend your time improving your network. Get out there and meet people. Begin by meeting with former coworkers, vendors and business associates. Ask for suggestions on other people you should meet and then meet with those people. Along the way, broadcast your experience and your employment goals. Develop a target list of possible employers. Send periodic emails to your growing network, asking for introductions or leads into these companies. It takes time, but eventually you will hear about opportunities before they’re posted on job boards. Instead of being part of the crowd, you’ll be an insider. Even better, a position may be created with you in mind!
Technology maybe the basis of your previous success, but don’t lull yourself into a false sense of job search productivity if all you’re doing is applying to jobs on the internet. Use your creativity, as well as those leadership and communication skills you’ve so carefully honed over the years to find your next successful position.