|Your day has been planned in
sequence like every morning for the last three months. It's 0500 and the sun isn't even up
yet, but the job boards are. The world never stops on the Internet. You sit down as the
whir of the computer boots up and you sip your coffee like you have for the last 123 days.
You're looking for a job.
Your blood races as the anticipation of a possible email from one of the many national recruiters that you have on the hook says "ya got da job man, pack your things, you got the call" But it ain't there. Damn! You light another smoke. Off to the job boards .
Hours go by, board after board resumes flying faster than your emailer can handle them. Following every possible lead that you run into. And still. Nuthin! The closest thing that you get to a job offer is a mechanical mailer that says " yes, we got it, and like the other one hundred and fifty nine thousand we got this morning, we will review it."
Then you hit the phones, making sure that you let your recruiters know that " yes, I'm still out of a job, what is happening on your end?" You hang up and pray to heaven they will call you back, even after you have emailed them a dozen times. It's an act of God to get a recruiter to call you. What? "Do I have the plague or something?"
Your interviews throughout the week are thorough. Your expertise is there. The interviewer was nice enough. You wore your most dazzling tie and a fresh haircut. But you still didnt get the job. More frustration. Why? What in the world am I doing wrong? Is it the resume? I don't get it!
Sound familiar? It should. You are not alone out there in the IT industry.
I had to sit back and really analyze where I stood in the job market and what I would need to be a competitor (and I hate to use this phrase) for a corporate job. But the fact is, you are competing. It's not a job market anymore. It's a game. Whether it's a Hockey game or Job hunting, the end result and goal are the same. To Win. And in order to Win, you have to compete for those jobs.
I found out this weekend, while joining Brainbuzz.com, how much I really did not know about software, hardware and networking. It was absolutely demoralizing. You think you do, until a site like Brainbuzz.com comes along and you go through the painstaking time of filling out all the forms that are necessary to make the job board work for you. Brainbuzz.com (is that enuff plugs now Jaxx?) Is a real eye opener on how much is really out there. And why I may not be winning the positions I had applied for on the market. It was the amount of software and certifications that I never heard of, or didn't have a qualification for, and wasn't certified in. That really did me in.
There are so many certifications out there. (40 listed in Brainbuzz) I was totally dismayed, shocked, depressed, at all the software and certifications available and considered going out to the back of the barn and putting a bullet in the "ole' brain pan".
I really thought I was the "Reed Richards" of networking and break-fix, "Da Man" of all corporate needs. But I wasn't even close. Though I have thousands of hours of biting the bullet, gut instinct, fly by wire, by God I did it, self-taught seat of the pants learning. It doesn't mean "diddly" out there in the real world of corporate exposure. The fact is, I don't even have an A+ certification, (even though a lot of the colleagues I have worked with on contract projects shouldnt have been certified with one in the first place) or my Novell license. I'm getting killed out there! It's like being in the ice rink without sharpened skates, and the goalie is the size of the Zamboni!
It doesnt matter how much time you have in the trenches. It doesnt matter that you have the god given gift of break fix. It doesn't matter that you can build a WAN/LAN with your eyes closed. Without those certifications you are dead in the water".
Corporate job orders, if you study them closely, (instead of looking for the -send email link- in panic mode) all have strict requirements in what they require for a potential competitor to win that position. Like professional Hockey teams, they look for players that meet their first criteria. Does the player have what we need to make this team successful? And if you don't, you won't even get called in the first ten rounds of drafting. Pure and simple isn't it!
Once you've gotten this through your ego thickened skull you'll realize why you don't have a job yet.
Like all games, you need a game playbook and a game strategy.
Be Humble - You've taken the first step in realizing that you need to improve your skills. And like all skill sets, you need either to improve your education or practice more frequently.
Get Certified - Whatever it takes! No Quarter! There are no excuses. This is your career you are talking about. Buy the books, take courses and take the tests. If you want to bark with the big dogs, Get Certified! You are going to be barking on their porches.
Stay Positive - Staying positive in this game is mentally draining. Time is your biggest enemy here. You can't replace time. And the endless hours "waiting on that phone call" doesn't help either. Try to stay productive and use every minute to do so. You can't let yourself get dragged down with idle time. Keep slapping away and go in with all pucks blazing. Never give up. This will be your hardest challenge and situation to overcome. You will and can make that goal!
Set a Goal - One realistic goal. A goal, that is very achievable. What do you want to do? Sit yourself down and ask yourself that. (I was in the middle of an eighty-acre pasture, sitting on top of a tractor when it hit me like a ton of bricks). I sat back, tipped my ball hat back, looked out into the vastness of it, and really didn't know what I wanted to do. I had no goal. Once you have set a specific goal, then put a game plan in effect to achieve it.
Schedule - Maintain a regular schedule of events throughout the day during the week. Working the East Coast, to the West Coast, your day is going to be three hours longer everyday than the recruiters and clients that you are working with. Being repetitive is a key here.
Study - Set a part of the day, every day, at the same time, devoted to nothing else but studying. Whether it is a software package for your specific area of expertise or a specific certification that you have set a goal to achieve and be proficient in.
Communication - This is a two edged sword, keeping in touch with recruiters, email, local references, and the Internet can be time consuming on the phone lines. At the same time though, you need to keep those phone lines open for incoming calls. Don't rely on email to get a job for you. Open a two-hour window in the morning and another in the afternoon for inbound calls. Use this open time for study, scheduling, and planning for your next session online. I respectively set mine for 1000-1200 and 1500-1700 EST.
Recruiters - Don't rely on them to get you a job. The only person that is going to get you a job is yourself. How you handle yourself throughout the day will reflect on how you will be successful in a corporate environment. Like Recruiters placing free agents in the sports world, they also are looking to place the best players with the best qualifications.
Be Confident - Confidence is something that probably is produced by feromes of arrogance. I was once asked a question in an interview about break fix...and the GM of this firm remarked "your are pretty confident about that aren't you?" (My first mental reaction was, "if you find someone better than me in that respect, I'll pay their salary!"). But in the long run, I have found that many interviewers are scared of this "Blazing Saddles" routine, and might consider this job threatening. So you have to play the dumb one and give the proverbial "Yes Sir". There is nothing wrong with confidence. Just don't shoot yourself in the foot with egocentric comments in an interview.
That's my play book and how I handle the daily plays in the IT game.
Shoot straight, Score Goals, and Win the Game.
My entire attitude on the IT Industry has changed dramatically in the last week with my association with the Brainbuzz connection and their affiliation. Their positive attitude, their straightforward approach, and the online cram sessions are nothing more than outstanding. I will be passing these attitudes and lessons to others that may have been "caught in the middle" of the job market as I have, and making them available on my personal web site on the World Wide Web.