cover letter

Is Your Technical Recruiter Right for You?

Posted on March 3, 2015. Filed under: Big Data, Career Management, CIO, Consulting/Contracting, cover letter, Cyber Security, Engineering, Executive Job Search, Healthcare IT, International Job Seekers, Interviews, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, LinkedIn, Manufacturing, Personal Branding, Product Development, Programming, Project management, Recruiting, Resumes, Retirement, Salary, social media, Software Development, STEM, Technical Infographics, Technical Sales, Technology, Women in IT, Work Issues |


technical recruiterOutside of lack of response during your job search, the next most frustrating issue is spending too much time talking to the wrong people.

And this is particularly true when it comes to technical recruiters.

I watch candidates on a regular basis jump through hoop after hoop for recruiters, writing special presentations and bios, changing this and that on their resumes, and showing up at this and that meeting only to find out that the recruiter doesn’t really have openings for their specific background or salary range.

It’s a big waste of everyone’s time. And it can be A LOT of time. But it happens all the time.

So what can you do about it? It starts with proper matching.

Most candidates are under the impression that if a technical recruiter is in their geographical area and is willing to speak with them, then he or she is a good match. But it goes further than that. You need to know if he or she has placed people with your skills/industry background and at your salary range before, and geography is no longer the indicator it used to be as many recruiters place people over a much broader region than they used to.

So it start by doing your research.

Of course, research takes time.

A lot of time. Even with LinkedIn and premium search tools, you still have to have set parameters and know how to research them. It can take hours of precious job search time to find just one or two.

And then you still have to know how to approach them, engage with them, and make sure they really are the good fit they appeared on paper.

It’s why so many candidates give up.

But there is a lot of value in finding the right technical recruiter because when the match is right, the whole process is much easier. Not to mention the fact that recruiting is on the rise and will continue to play a large role in the hiring process in 2015.

So if finding the right technical recruiter is important to you, there are ways to make it easier. You can simply tap into a general directory of technical recruiters already prepared with full contact info. Or you can take it a step further and engage a recruiter matching solution where you can work with a concierge service to have a customized list of recruiters built for you and your needs by a technical job search specialist (not to mention get good guidance on how to approach the recruiters).

It’s not that you can’t do it on your own; it’s that you no longer have to.

(Also, check out our directory of 800+ project/program manager recruiters or directory of CIO recruiters.)

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (check out his exclusive offer). Contact Stephen directly at or send him an invite at To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?




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The Softer Side of Tech Revisited

Posted on September 4, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, cover letter, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Interviews, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Personal Branding, Resumes |

Now that Labor Day has passed us by, summer is fading, and the kids are back to school, there’s one thing that is sure to happen…in fact, it already has…

IT and tech candidates are going to decide they are now ready to get going with their job search, you know, the one they have been meaning to do but have been putting off all summer?

As a result, the other thing that’s sure to happen is a surge in the market of tech-related job seekers all vying for open positions from now until Thanksgiving when they put the brakes on searching again.

Yes, the job search market has a predictable cycle too, and if you find yourself coming up against it during the “peak” seasons (specifically, spring and fall), it’s wise to bring your A game.

Therefore, I want to revisit a post I published back in February 2014 in anticipation of the upcoming spring season. Now that fall is coming, I think it is a good time to look at it again.

cultural fitSo, for a little bit now, I’ve been discussing the importance of “soft skills” in the 2014 IT job market. The following posts all touch on how the market is favoring those IT professionals who are, well, softer:

Today, I’d like to highlight perhaps the top 10 soft skills in demand, things that you need to show, not tell, in your next career move.

1. Strong Work Ethic

When I first started writing resumes, it was considered bad form to put “hard worker” or “hard working” on a resume because it was one of those… no duh….things. Who doesn’t think they are a hard worker and have a strong work ethic? But increasingly, in today’s market, employers are demanding professionals to demonstrate a strong work ethic. One way to do that would be to prepare a Problems-Solutions-Results (PSR) page as an addendum to your resume. It can showcase problems you have faced and how you have worked to resolve them.

2. Positive Attitude

Here’s one that can be tough for some personality types. Let’s be real. It isn’t that you are negative necessarily (although others might perceive it that way); it’s more likely you are direct, to the point, and in your mind a realist. Unfortunately, though, these traits aren’t always well received in today’s corporate market (neither is a healthy dose of sarcasm) even if sometimes they are what’s needed. So finding a way to be direct while being sure to end on a positive note will go far.

3. Good Communication Skills

Many times people only focus on the verbal and listening part of communication skills, but in today’s world, writing skills are at a premium. So showcasing your background in this area is important too.

4. Time Management Abilities

5. Problem-Solving Skills

Again, here is where the PSR mentioned earlier would come into play.

6. Acting as a Team Player

The PSR could also provide you with an opportunity to showcase the work you’ve done in a team environment. A Testimonials page could do the same thing by letting your colleagues “refer” you through their kudos of you.

7. Self-Confidence

8. Ability to Accept and Learn From Criticism

Inevitably, you will be asked a question during interviews about a time when you had to take criticism and what you did with it. So be prepared to provide an example.

9. Flexibility/Adaptability

Here is where an Innovation page could come in handy. Outlining ideas for changes in business operations or procedures that you see that could enhance business activities and show adaptability is highly sought after.

10. Working Well Under Pressure

Once again, the PSR page is a great place to demonstrate a scenario where you handled pressure and came out strong.

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Cover Letters Get a Bum Rap

Posted on September 24, 2012. Filed under: cover letter | Tags: , , |

These days, whenever employers post a job opening, their inboxes are flooded with responses from a variety of job seekers with varying levels of education and experience. Needless to say, it is an ordeal for employers to weed through the pool of candidates to find not only someone who is qualified for the position but also who fits in with the corporate atmosphere. As a result, applicant tracking systems have become a big business, anything to help companies sift through resume after resume after resume.

It’s a shame, really, because lost in all that is the cover letter.

Back in my corporate hiring days, it was a key piece for me in weighing potential candidates.

But, in today’s crazy job search world, the cover letter has been maligned.

Many of my recruiter and business owner friends toss out or ignore cover letters completely, but I think this can be a mistake. For me, it turned out to be a great way to sift through the candidates because it allowed me to look for a few key things before I moved into the realm of examining resume qualifications. Unlike the resume, which is meant to dazzle and “wow” you with accomplishments, the cover letter, theoretically at least, is meant to be more personal. The candidate is speaking directly to you (or to your company at least). So in my mind, I wanted to see what he or she had to say first before I assessed each person solely on experience.

To give you an idea of some ways I found the cover letter invaluable, I comprised the following list of things to look for in these documents. Without a doubt, it made the weeding out process much simpler for me and I ended up with team members who met my qualification needs and demonstrated the attitude that best suits my environment:

Get a sense of the candidate’s personality.

What is the tone of the cover letter? Is it friendly and professional, or is it casual and unorganized? How does that meet up with type of workplace you have to offer? These factors could be key indicators of the candidate’s personality, and paying attention to these aspects helped me weed out individuals that wouldn’t mesh well with my company. Unfortunately, many job seekers miss the boat here and write dry, non-value-added letters, but can you blame them, especially when everyone tells them these documents are pointless?

Get a sense of the candidate’s written communication skills.

Was the letter filled with grammatical errors? Does he or she know how to use punctuation properly? Does he or she know the correct format for a business letter? Strong communication skills were an important part of the job I was looking to fill, and the cover letter was a good way for me to see the candidates’ writing abilities.

Get a sense of whether the candidate knows how to tailor the cover letter to speak directly to your company.

Did the job seeker take the time to research and write a thoughtful, creative cover letter tailored to reflect your company and how each of your goals match? Whether the cover letter is an obvious copy written to fit any number of organizations or is unique to your company reveals a great deal about the candidate’s work ethic.

Get a sense of whether the candidate has a good grasp of professional etiquette.

Did he or she reveal unnecessary personal information? Was the language formal and polite? The professionalism displayed in a cover letter is a good indicator of the type of professionalism to expect from the candidate in person.

Get a sense of whether the candidate has a good grasp of the position and its required skills.

This is a good gauge of a candidate’s intelligence and comprehension skills. Did he or she read and understand the job posting carefully? Does the candidate have an accurate idea of how to match qualifications with the job requirements? Several people who responded to my posting were overqualified for the position, and based on the way they wrote their cover letters, they knew it too. Also, several people didn’t even use the correct title when discussing the position. I’m pretty sure they weren’t even sure what they were applying for.

Listen. No one likes to reject people; as a small-business owner, it is my least favorite part of the job. To ensure that I wasted as little of my time as well as the applicants’, I used the cover letters to assess the candidates and found it an effective method to ensure that those I did choose to interview already were a good fit for the position. Of course, it is always possible the candidate did not write his or her letter and paid or had someone else do it. But either way cover letter writing is somewhat of an art form and can reveal many things a resume cannot.

I understand no one has “time” anymore. I mean, after all, people brag that they can’t even peruse a resume for longer than 7 seconds or whatever. But maybe they should take a little time and think about what they are saying. If hiring the best candidate is your goal, then it takes some dedication to do so. And if cultural fit is so important, then I’m sure we could all find the time.

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