Helping IT Job Seekers Get it Right - Page 2

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2002-07-10 Print this article Print

eWEEK: What information about companies does your book provide that will help technical people when they go into an interview? COVIN: For the companies I profiled in depth, I asked hiring managers specifically, What are you looking for when you hire? Whats important from an educational standpoint? Do you hire entry-level? Do they need a college degree? If so, is there a grade point average cutoff? Also, culture fit is important. [IT job seekers] cant ask because it makes [interviewers] think theyre not serious about working for that company. Things like, How many hours do people work? Is travel required? You might be at a point in your life where you can work 60 to 80 hours a week, and you get excited about a job thats that intense. Or you might be going to grad school and need a job with regular hours. Theres no sense in wasting everybodys time at the interview stage—which is fairly late in the process of hiring somebody—when a company is perfectly willing to tell… someone that yes, theyre intense, or conversely, that theyre well-managed, they think people should be able to complete jobs in 40 hours a week. Also, no one can ask about benefits in an interview situation. You cant ask if theyve had layoffs. You cant ask, What do you do for the people whom youve laid off? Its good to know how they were treated. Another cultural thing: Should [employees at a prospective employer company] keep résumés current? Is this a company that hires people for projects and then lets them go between projects? When the project is over do they need to find another job within the company, or look outside?
EWEEK: Is that something you experienced when you worked for a systems integrator?
COVIN: Its common in the systems integration business. [My last employer] was liberal and kept people on board between projects, but I wouldnt have known that if I hadnt heard there were other companies not so liberal at keeping people. EWEEK: Your books center around finding jobs close to home. Is that what matters most to technical workers? COVIN: The No. 1 fit people look for is the skills fit. No. 2 is something in a reasonable distance. I believe theyre still willing to look for something with a geographic fit [even in this tough job market] because companies are less willing to pay relocation expenses. The skills fit is, from my experience in the industry, the No. 1 thing computer people are excited about: the technical content of the job itself. Everything else falls far down on the list. Theyre looking for projects and work that is interesting. EWEEK: So whos hiring? COVIN: Industries still actively hiring in IT are financial services such as banking, insurance and the mortgage industry; the defense industry; the service providers for the defense industry—the large systems integrators—and thats not just security, its all sorts of positions. But mostly those are security-oriented. EWEEK: What about recent college grads? Is anybody still hiring them? COVIN: I called schools I donated books to [including Carnegie Mellon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Virginia Tech and the University of Texas]. They told me banking, insurance, financial services [are hiring.] But they also said 30 percent to 40 percent more graduates are going into grad school this year than in past years. Grads are going into related industries for which computer science is a good background: computational chemistry, genome research, patent law.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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