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Is Your Technology Hiring Process Screening Out Great Candidates?

Published September 9th, 2012 by Mak

The current wisdom about the job situation in the U.S. is full of contradictions:

  • There are no jobs.
  • There are jobs but no skilled workers.
  • There are skilled workers but they are not qualified for the available jobs.
  • Qualified workers exist for the available jobs but there is a problem with matching up the workers and the jobs.

Why is this happening and how do we fix it?

According to USA Today a study by Beyond.com indicates one problem is the way job descriptions are written, especially for technology hiring. Job descriptions seem to go from one extreme to the other; either they are so vague that job seekers are unable to identify the position or the description contains a lengthy list of specific language or tool experience unlikely to be found in a single individual.

Much of it comes down to poor screening tools with limited options. The software so many companies use to try to screen out unqualified candidates is not very flexible or intuitive. It often runs best on lists of software languages, accounting terms, or systems experience that are not as essential as being able to bring a team together and get a project out on time. But the skills for the latter are difficult to program into the filter.

When the filter is created from these lists it sorts through the incoming applications and weeds out any candidate that does not perfectly match. The longer and more specific the list of requirements, the lower the likelihood of finding a candidate that meets them all. At the end of the process, there is nobody left standing. The hiring manager can’t understand why no candidates are being referred for interview while HR sees plenty of resumes but no one appeared to be qualified.

To correct this problem hiring managers must first determine exactly what skills a position truly requires. Then they can decide which skills could be taught and which skills must be present at the time of hire. Working together with HR and recruiters, a realistic description of these skills can be used to prepare a more effective filter that is capable of screening out truly unqualified applicants and producing a short list of candidates who may not have every skill desired but who may be able to the do the job with some training.

If you are experiencing a similar problem within your organization, connect with your recruiters to ensure that job descriptions are accurate and great candidates are not being missed. To learn more contact us.

Forbes: Tech companies look for that just-right resume in the hiring process.

Published August 31st, 2012 by Mak

Software engineers, according to Gayle Laakmann McDowell, author of ‘Cracking the Coding Interview,’ need to pay particular attention in the hiring process on how they write their resumes, according to her post on Forbes.com, “What Are Common Mistakes That Applicants Make When Writing Their Resumes for Tech Companies.”

Even though her overview is written with the tech applicant foremost in her mind, her tips do apply across the board; furthermore, she focuses on what she classifies as “the most common serious mistakes” in writing the resume.

Before you get too deep-in-the-weeds in a detailed resume, take to heart her pithy reminder that “resumes are not read; they are skimmed for about 15 seconds;” furthermore, a screener is unlikely to read the entire piece.

That said, here is a summary of the most common missteps in writing the resume:

  • “1. Long Resumes:” Short and concise with no more than 2 pages is her advice.
  • “2. Paragraphs/Lengthy Bullets:” Readers abhor paragraphs…and don’t use more than 1-2 lines in the bullet copy; “…ideally, no more than half of the bullets should be 2 lines.”
  • “3. Team/Group Focus:” Take credit up front for the projects you worked on, designed, created, etc. Leave out the team association, the reader is interested in “you.” Here it’s all about “accomplishments and achievements.”
  • “4. Messy Resumes:” She believes software engineers should not be creating “their own templates…If you’re not good at design, why are you doing this?” Keep your pages uncluttered and easy to read. McDowell has no problem with using a well-designed template, one with columns, which makes it easier for the reader to scan important info.
  • “5. Listing Responsibility instead of Accomplishments:” Break down the responsibilities and then use bullets. Pick out 3-5 accomplishments in the roles you’ve chosen to highlight, and repeat for each role or assignment.
  • “6. Leaving out Cool Stuff Because It’s Not ‘Resume Material’: The takeaway in all the material you might be considering for your resume comes down to this: “start thinking about if something makes you look more or less awesome.”

Our global clients are always looking for that ‘just right’ candidate on a contract, contract-to-hire and even full-time employment. Contact us for more information on how Comrise can help you marketed your IT skills, education and experience.

IT job seeker tips: 8 IT-specific questions you’ll get asked in job interviews

Published August 16th, 2012 by Mak

We’ve all seen the standard list of interview tips and questions that every employer will ask, like “What are your strengths” and “Describe a situation when…” You’ll always need to describe your skills, education and background, regardless of whether you’re applying to be an accountant or construction worker.

But if you work in the information technology or computer industry, you can expect some IT-specific questions during your job interviews. Be ready to answer these questions with poise, confidence and just the right amount of detail:

Can you take a codility test? Here you’ll need to write actual code in a programming language to confirm you have actual practical programming skills. It’s like a driver’s test — you can’t just tell the interviewer you can parallel park, you have to get behind the wheel and put the car between the cones.

What development tools have you used? Companies want to make sure you’ve got experience using the latest technology. How do you troubleshoot IT issues? This speaks directly to your problem-solving skills in an industry-specific context.

What’s your opinion of on-site vs. cloud solutions? (assuming the applications are functionally equivalent) Your answer demonstrates your knowledge in this emerging field. Form a thoughtful opinion that weighs the pros and cons of both.

What is your production deployment process? Project management has always been a key skill for IT companies — you’ll need have a general framework memorized to let interviewers know that you’ll manage each project thoughtfully and efficiently.

What software vendors have you worked with, and which do you prefer? Every company has its favorite companies it likes to work with, and is always looking to expand their network.

How important is it for you to work directly with users?The answer to this question might indicate how people-friendly you are. Make sure you mention that you’re open to working directly with users, when appropriate.

How do you define documentation? Why is it important? Good documentation is a core skill valued by almost all IT employers, so it’s important that you have a clear answer to this question.

It will help you remember your answers, plus add clarity to your thoughts, if you actually write out your answers to these questions beforehand. Make sure you also ask some questions of your own, and brush up on your communications skills while you’re at it.

Looking for take that next step in your career? Let us help! Comrise’s clients are constantly on the lookout for professionals who can answer the questions above and more. Contact us to learn more.