Job-Hunting Tips for Tech Professionals

Being a “headhunter” (aka recruiter) is similar to being a matchmaker — the goal is to make the connection.  We know a lot about the job search. So, if you’re a technology professional looking for a new job as well as a new partner, read on!

Is preparing for a job interview similar to preparing for a first date?  I think so — in so many ways!  Some candidates, who’ve been with the same company for a long time, haven’t interviewed for a new job in years.  Similarly, there are people who haven’t been on a first date in years because they’ve been in one relationship for most of their adult lives.

The goal for the first meeting is to get a second interview or to a second date, so that you’re in a better position to determine if there is a match.

So … you must prepare.  In fact, you may want to project many of the same qualities in either situation.  Think about the key things you’d like to share with your interviewer/date. 

Let’s assume that our candidate has been an IT security director for the same company for the last 12 years, and has recently been laid off due to a company-wide downsizing.  She has also been divorced for two years (with not much time for dating), has two grown sons and loves to hike and bike.

Here are some tried-and-true first meeting tips:

  • Do your homework. There is so much info on the internet (whether you’re researching a company or your date), so be sure to be prepared with talking points.  For example, why are you interested in this company/this person?  Maybe it’s because you’re excited about the chance to join an employer that is leading the way in cloud and security solutions, or you’re excited about your date’s profile, which highlights the fact that he enjoys the outdoors.
  • What are you looking for in your next role/your next partner? Maybe you talk about wanting to continue ensuring that solutions and platforms are secure for your new employer, just as you’ve been doing throughout your career. Maybe you tell your date that you like to travel, cook and sail.
  • Think about your attire. Always put your best foot forward, and remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  • Punctuality is key.  No one likes to be kept waiting.
  • Maintain eye contact. Be engaged in the conversation.
  • Don’t give one-word answers. The conversation should flow freely.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation, and remember that no one likes a braggart. But be confident, and be sure to highlight your experience in cyber risk, driving process improvements and leading a team of cybersecurity analysts; and maybe tell your date that you enjoy your full social calendar, but would like to find a fulfilling relationship. Just be aware of the line between confident and cocky.
  • Be prepared with answers for questions such as what would your supervisors/friends say about you. You could perhaps work into the conversation that your previous supervisor has commended you on your ability to manage large-scale IT infrastructure and applications/that you’re dependable, a good confidant and have a sense of humor.
  • There are so many questions that might be asked of you or that you may want to ask, for instance: What achievements are you most proud of?  What are your strengths? What do you like to do for fun? 
  • Show enthusiasm, not just with your voice but, also with your facial expressions and body language.  Be sure that your interviewer/date sees that you have a true interest in getting to know him, as well as allowing him to get to know you.
  • Honesty is the best policy. A relationship, whether professional or personal, that’s built on a lie will not last.
  • Don’t be presumptuous. Remember, not everyone will want to hire or date you.
  • Don’t give false hopes. It’s OK if you’re really not interested.
  • Reserve judgment until after the first meeting/date is over.
  • If you’re interested in a second meeting/date, be sure to say so!
  • Send a follow-up note in both cases.

And, don’t be discouraged if the first meeting doesn’t lead to a second. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Ideally, lots of other job and dating opportunities will come your way.  Best of luck in connecting with the one — job or partner— that is right for you!

Kim Ciraulo  has been a recruiter for over 20 years.  She is the cofounder of GoHireRecruiting and lives at the Jersey Shore.

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