How to read tech job postings

I may have Blogged on this before but things are heating up with respect to tech jobs, so it’s probably a good idea to revisit this topic.

There are a number of job search engines that troll job posting sites and deliver lists to prospective tech workers each day. The content of the emails has some value but probably not what you would expect. These engines give you information about when the job was posted, but the way they work has a few flaws. If a recruiter picks up a posting from an employers site, the date gets reset and a posting that was three weeks old looks like it was posted yesterday. In many cases the jobs that are posted have already been filled.

Applying to jobs from this sort of a list will not produce good results.

So what do these sites do for you? They give you a general idea about who is hiring. Use that information to research employers and then use LinkedIn to figure out who you know in the companies that you are interested in. LinkedIn will tell you about connections through other people in your network, so if you don’t have a direct connection, ask someone you do have a connection with to introduce you.

Once you have a connection, setup meetings over lunch or coffee. Tell people that you are interested in their company and you would like to learn more. People have to eat, like to drink coffee and love to talk about their work. There is no commitment at a meeting like that so the odds that you will be successful in getting a meeting are actually quite high.

During the meeting there will be opportunities to ask appropriate questions that will allow you to create an impression in the other persons mind. It’s an indirect way to sell yourself and raise your profile. You could also use the meeting to find out more about hiring managers, the status of posted jobs and what departments are hiring. Use that information to setup follow up meetings.

If you do a really good job with these informal meetings, people will assume that you will only be on the market for a very short period. You need to keep having meetings so that people know your are still available. You can always say that your are still available because you are waiting for an opportunity that is a good fit. It’s important for employers to know that you are in control of the situation.

Eventually a hiring manger is going to ask one of your contacts if they know anyone that might fit a job opening that they have and your name will come up. When your name does come up, it will be with a recommendation from someone that the hiring manager trusts.

It only takes one recommendation to get a job, so be patient.

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