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Keys to successful job searching in the IT Industry

1 Nov 2020 12:47 PM | Anonymous

Vinay Vyas interviewed By Ragoo Raghunathan

When it comes to “CAREERS” there are several components that play a role.  Once a career is selected, the next question is “How do I go about getting hired?”  While there is no single correct answer, it is safe to say that some careers/domains/industries have certain well-defined methods while others are a complex myriad of options.  Today we are going to speak about one such industry – the Information Technology (IT) industry.  Since I am not in IT, I reached out to a good friend Vinay Vyas and had several interesting conversations about IT staffing. We feel that it will be very helpful to our audience as there are several IT professionals who could benefit from this.

Vinay has been involved with the IT staffing industry in every conceivable role over his 30 years of professional experience. While it is impossible to cover all topics in depth, we decided to provide some starter material in a 30-minute rapid-fire conversation. Our intention was to create an FAQ type of article that we hope will answer many such questions that you might have as you navigate through your job search in the IT industry.  We would be happy to answer additional questions that you might have via our newsletter email ID newsletter@iswonline.org

What is a Staffing Company/Agency?

The old concept of “Who do you know?” is still applicable when you are looking for a new job.  However, the Staffing Company has become a powerful tool as most organizations have formalized their hiring process and deal with Staffing Agencies to handle several of the hiring processes starting with the most important step of finding the right candidate.

I am confused with the terms fulltime, permanent, contract, contract-to-perm and corp-to-corp(C2C)?

These terms indicate the “type” of employment.  Simply put, one is either an employee or contractor.  Organizations will provide benefits such as insurance and vacation time to “employees” who work on a fulltime basis (typically 35-40 hours per week). While no one ever has a truly “permanent” job it is a term still used to describe a fulltime employee receiving benefits. A contractor is hired for a set duration ranging from few hours to months or even years. Contractors are not offered any benefits.  A corp-to-corp arrangement is when 2 organizations agree to work together and an employee (or contractor) of one of those organizations provides the actual service but the payment is handled between both the companies.

Why would I choose a particular type of employment described above?

Depending on your skillset and life situation each type has their advantages and disadvantages.  Over a period of time most IT professionals prefer one or the other type and almost always have experienced both types either directly or indirectly.  IT work is typically run as projects and by definition a project has a defined start and end date so in essence it is a “contract”. In IT there are many professionals who prefer contracts since that is an excellent way of learning new technologies as well as gaining experience with how different organizations utilize various technologies to solve diverse problems.

How is IT contracting different from a full-time IT job?

The fundamental difference is fulltime employees get all the benefits, while contractors generally get no benefits. In addition, there are a few more important differences related to the actual work experience.  A contractor is almost always considered a Subject Matter Expert who is supposed to come in and hit the ground running.  There is no real “employee orientation program” or a “honeymoon period”.  Most contract assignments do not provide “Employee Title” but are focused on Role and Responsibility. Contractors get paid for every working hour as per predetermined timesheet rules in the contract.  Meticulous time-reporting and invoicing might be required in certain situations. Contractors would perform their assignment in mostly well-defined Statements of Work.  Contractors do not receive any severance pay and almost always have difficulty in getting unemployment approved (an accountant can guide you further).

What are the types of work/payment arrangements and associated terminologies I should be aware of?

Essentially there are 3 main terms/arrangements that are associated with Contract assignments.  These are indicative of the way the payment and associated taxes are handled:

W2 hourly contractor: In this arrangement the contractor is paid an hourly wage and the Employer (or Consulting Company who is the employer) would deduct your taxes just as you would if you were a full-time employee.  At the end of the year you would receive form W2 showing the wages paid and taxes withheld.

1099 contractor: Many organizations prefer to avoid 1099 contractors as the tax code and definition of a 1099 Contractor (Independent Consultant) is very complex and often misused by Organizations.  In this arrangement the Organization/Employer does not withhold any taxes.  If the rate is $100/hr., then the payment will be $100/hr. As an Independent Consultant, you are responsible to file estimated taxes on a quarterly basis and to file your annual tax returns.  You should use an accountant to ensure you are deducting the appropriate and allowable expenses.

Corp-to-Corp (C2C):  This is like the 1099 contractor except that if you use this approach, you need to incorporate a Company and use its Federal ID (similar to a Social Security number).  The payment is done in the name of your company. You manage the income and expenses for that company and file corporate tax returns.  An accountant can help you with this.

What are the different negotiable items, especially if you have never been a contactor before?

Everything!! It is based on “demand and supply”.  Sometimes the negotiation would require a form of barter exchange – it does not have to be related to actual pay. Some items that can be negotiated other than pay include time-off, vacation days, flex time, tuition, remote work, relocation package, signing bonus, etc.

Why do recruiters insist on a more detailed resume nowadays?

IT recruiters have broken away from traditional norms of utilizing a 1-2-page resume.  As the technology utilized in projects keeps increasing it becomes easy if a candidate has described what they did with a particular technology.  IT experience is always described in project form in couple lines as Project Description, bullet points for Role and Responsibilities and finally a list of Technologies used.  Some projects could utilize say 10 technologies.  Recruiters prefer that candidates mention what the candidate did with each technology under the Role and Responsibilities section.  Once you start adding all these details the resume will grow beyond 2 pages that is conventionally used in other domains. The details also allow recruiters to better match candidates with actual client needs. Interview processes recently have become elaborate and time consuming. Hiring managers prefer more information upfront so that they can select candidates who have actually done what is needed.   In short, do not ignore a request for a detailed resume – you might actually learn more about your own experience and appear as a more suitable candidate to hiring managers.

Are using job boards efficient (CareerBuilder, Dice and Monster), what are some best practices in using a job board?

ABSOLUTELY. Job search is like fishing. If you want to take care of a meal you throw a line and hopefully catch a fish for dinner.  To do commercial fishing you throw a net. If you just want to check the job market the strategy could be more subtle and probably will involve “throwing a line”.  When you definitely need a job then you throw a net.  Job boards are part of the net category.  Employers use different methods to generate job leads and it is in your best interest to apply for as many opportunities as you can based on your circumstances.  Job boards are like browsers – you have to use them to achieve your goals.  Job boards require you to create your profile and upload your resume.  You can then search for jobs and apply using your profile. You can search jobs manually or create search agents that will send you a daily list based on your saved parameters.  Employers can also find your resume when they conduct a search.  Remember this – the Internet is at work even when you are not.  Job boards keep your search active even when you are not logged in.  Remember job boards will show the most recent resume first –if 5 candidates match an employer’s criteria then the resume that was submitted most recently will show up higher on the results page.  To ensure that your resume appears at the top of searches,  make frequent updates and edits to your profile.

How do you define a 'resume'? What should it include and what is an optimal length?

Resume writing is an ongoing process, even when you are not looking for a job.  Every recruiter will have their own idea on the “perfect resume”.  My experience has taught me that hiring as well as job search are far from “perfect”.  My personal guiding philosophy is “There is never a perfect job; there is never a perfect candidate; there is never a perfect job description; there is never a perfect resume”.  I approach every resume as a STORY.  It is a story of “Who you are? What do you know? What have you done? What do you want to do?”.  Make sure that your resume has your contact information – sounds basic but this is often overlooked.  Avoid using fancy borders and colors and icons, unless you are applying for roles requiring such skills.  Most applicant tracking systems and job boards might end up making a mess of your beautiful document. Make sure you have the same version across all job boards and sites.  You can submit cover notes in addition to your resume but make sure that you do not attach an incorrect cover note. Cover notes should be tailored for each role and highlight why you are a good candidate for that role.

Is IT still a viable job market during COVID times?

Oh yes! IT is the best suited for “work from home” and has always utilized various levels of “remote” work options.  As a matter of fact, today you can be anywhere in the US and apply for jobs where you would not have applied due to say cost of living or relocation constraints.  Go for IT!

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