Are you a Specialist?

Whenever I feel I’m getting a little too confident, I type “recruiters are…” into Google and read the autofill suggestions.  Today the top 4 were useless, scum, a waste of time, and annoying.  In that order.  On forum after forum I come across long threads of why recruiters (specifically IT Recruiters)  are the worst thing since stubbed toes and at the top of the list is that they have no idea what IT encompasses.  My favorite quote is “They don’t know Java from Javascript”.  The answer to that can be found here and here and can be very basically summed up as Java needs to be compiled, Javascript is text code and Node.js is used in server applications. 

  That just goes to illustrate a point.  It’s not that hard to take the time to read up on the particular job description you’re trying to fill.  The more knowledgeable you are about your field, the better your BS detector gets and the easier it is to screen for these positions.  You don’t have to be a 1337 h4x0r to get the basic concepts of a skillset or even just know what the names of languages relate to.  That’s what Google is for.  It takes no more than 15 to 30 minutes a day to grow your knowledge base and research the basic requirements for a position.

  I’ll tell you a story to emphasize this point.  A friend of mine got contacted by a recruiter for a Scrum Master position.  Said friend didn’t even know what Agile methodology was yet, but he was game, why not right?  Because he’s personable and smart he managed to game the system by talking the recruiter into giving him all the information he would need to make it through the initial screening and through subsequent phone interviews.  It was an exquisite example of benign voice phishing.  A few weeks later he’s flown out for a large corporate interview, travel, meals and hotel all covered by the interviewing company.  Imagine the discomfort of everyone involved when it’s discovered that their prodigy candidate knew absolutely nothing about what it takes to be a Scrum Master.  Had the initial recruiter known more about Agile methodology and cared more about a good placement over meeting metrics, this whole situation could have been avoided.  Don’t be that recruiter.  Don’t be the one left catching all hell because you didn’t do due diligence. Take the time to read up on what you’re selling, I promise, it will make a difference.  Besides, do you want to be lumped under whatever top 4 Google results for “recruiters are…” returns?

Start Networking Now

According to the US Department of Labor, as of the end of June 2018, there were 6.7 million job openings. Additionally they state 70-85% of those jobs will be filled through networking. Networking is like creating an emergency contingency plan, don’t wait until you’re in crises to make one. If you’re contemplating a career change in the next year or so, now is the time to reevaluate your current contacts and start cultivating and creating those bonds.

Think of your network as a database resource, your databases usefulness is only as good as the information input into it (shhhhh DBA’s, this is about the information in the database, not the structure itself). If you don’t frequently update the information in your DB (eg. recent information from your contacts) or you have very little data (small network) your DB usefulness will be limited and unable to return the results you need to succeed. Every person you add to your network is another set of resources that enrich your life. When you network you become a valuable resource as well. You have a unique skill set and knowledge base that you can share in order to enrich the lives of the people in your network.

Networking doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be social. People are more likely to make referrals and introductions for someone they’ve met in person and had a favorable social interaction with than someone that just sent them a connection request and quick message on LinkedIn. Join meet ups that reflect your interests or find local events that interest you and take some time to meet a few new people. However you choose to network, start doing it now if you haven’t already. If you already have a network, invest some time in catching up with people you haven’t heard from in a while and add to it. Who knows, you may wind up helping someone land one of those 6.7 million job openings.