Hiring Your Next Employer

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Geeks On Call, the national on-site computer-services company, has hired more than 500 CompTIA A+ certified technicians over the past six years. Based on observations of hundreds of job candidates, Mike Vanderslice, vice president of operations for Geeks On Call, believes that getting hired in IT is as much about the desire to work for a particular organization as it is about the organization’s enthusiasm for the candidate.

“Employers want to hire qualified people who are passionate about the company and the direction it is going in,” Vanderslice said. “If managers find genuine passion, experience and supporting certifications, they will recognize they are dealing with a great candidate.”

Vanderslice said that the first step in finding that passion is to be honest about the desire to work for a particular company. After carefully researching the organization’s direction and industry, IT workers must ask themselves: Could I be happy working for this company? If the answer is no, then the IT professional has come to an important realization.

“Both (the) candidate and the employer will find out very quickly it is not a good fit,” Vanderslice explained. “If it is not, the technician and employer will end up basically where they started—the technician looking for a position and the employer with an opening to fill.”

For this reason, Vanderslice urges quality over quantity when selecting and contacting prospective employers. “It is a turnoff for an employer to see generic cover letters and résumés,” he said. “Successful candidates communicate their passion in the cover letter and customize résumés to highlight the fit between experience and certifications with the advertised or potential opening.” Vanderslice also said candidates should demonstrate that the job is important by carefully proofreading cover letters and résumés, eliminating spelling and grammatical errors.

To successfully ferret out dream jobs, Vanderslice said that IT professionals should continually build their network, asking teachers, colleagues and supervisors for references. “Referrals come from people who know both the individual and the organization doing the hiring,” Vanderslice said. “They typically would not put the two together if they thought it wouldn’t be a good fit. A referral is a powerful endorsement, building instant credibility on both sides of the equation.”

After identifying and contacting the organization, the job interview is the next step toward that dream job. To get an edge, it’s helpful to know what the person across the desk is looking for. Vanderslice said there are several important considerations from the employer’s point of view. The first is to determine whether the candidate can do the job, and that comes from experience closely related to the opening. Experience through internships or time spent as a volunteer is vital to securing that all-important first job. In any job, master as many key tasks as possible, and be aware of how these tasks contribute to the mission of the organization. Look toward the next-level position that interests you most, and strive to grow into that job.

Another key factor in the interview is matching experience with supporting certifications. “Customers ask us all the time how we ensure the quality of our technicians,” Vanderslice said. “We tell them that every Geeks On Call technician is at least CompTIA A+ certified. Certification not only reassures the customer, it inspires trust in the eyes of the hiring manager. Certification is the independent validation of knowledge.”

Clear communication is another major key to success in an interview. “The ability for an IT technician to communicate effectively is critical,” Vanderslice said. “It doesn’t matter whether the technician is interacting with customers, employees or supervisors—it is incumbent on the IT professional to be a good listener and clear communicator.

“Someone who is relaxed, interacts well, who states their ideas clearly and provides supporting examples taken from their experience stands out as being a strong candidate for a technology job and a potential good fit with the IT team,” he added. “Asking questions which demonstrate that they’ve done their homework and are truly interested in us moves the candidate up a notch.”

Appropriate experience, supporting certifications, clear communication and an honest desire to work for a company are powerful incentives for an employer to make that all-important job offer. If an offer is made, then the candidate can be assured that he or she has done everything possible to hire the right employer.

John A. Venator is president and CEO of CompTIA, the largest global IT industry association, with more than 19,000 members in 89 countries. He can be reached at jvenator@certmag.com.


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