IT Career Advice: Questions for a Technology Career Expert, Part 2

Q&A: This is the second part of an eWEEK interview with technology career expert and author Janice Weinberg. Part 1 of the interview covers resume trends in 2010, job-seeking approaches for laid-off technology professionals and advice on becoming a contractor. Part 2 of the article addresses issues for older technology workers and the three best ways to increase the likelihood of getting a job.

The following is Part 2 of a question-and-answer session with technology-career author Janice Weinberg. Weinberg is a former IBM system programmer and a General Electric faculty member at the Management Development Institute and currently runs a career-services company, Career Solutions, based in Westport, Conn. Weinberg has written the books "Debugging Your Information Technology Career: A Compass to New and Rewarding Fields That Value Computer Knowledge" and "How to Win the Job You Really Want." Her latest book is "Debugging Your Information Technology Job Search: A Compass to Winning the Management Position You Really Want."
How should older technology workers position themselves to compete in 2010?
By demonstrating that their higher cost is justified. Older technology workers face the challenge of demonstrating that their higher compensation is justified by the value they can add to their employers. One way an older worker can accomplish this is to capitalize on his supervisory experience. For example, if budget constraints prevented his company from hiring two needed entry-level QA and test software engineers, causing delays in new releases, he could develop a proposal for instituting an internship program with a community college or university. He could then add this as an accomplishment to his resume, citing the savings in salaries and benefits-as well as the marketing advantage his company gained by expediting its releases.
By maintaining current knowledge of new technologies related to their disciplines. If their jobs don't provide them with the opportunity to learn new technologies that are increasingly being adopted by employers, tech workers should study these on their own time so they can add them to their resumes.
By demonstrating how their experience can be an asset. Many organizations are dealing with the issue of deciding whether to convert their legacy applications, and how to prioritize these initiatives. An older software developer or application development manager could capitalize on his knowledge of his employer's legacy applications by conducting a study that would analyze the costs/benefits of continuing to maintain each legacy system versus the cost of converting them, with an emphasis on prioritizing any conversions to reflect the strategic importance of each application.
What are the three best things technology candidates can do to elevate their chances of getting the job?
To improve their ability to generate interviews: They should use their cover letters to demonstrate knowledge of a prospective employer's business and, most important, draw parallels between their capabilities and what they've learned. For example, someone targeting a technology partnership management position should study the employer's partners Website page and try to identify new potential partners not listed with which the company should pursue relationships. Ideally, they would identify entirely new categories of partners that offer the potential for lucrative relationships. By including these suggestions in his cover letter, this job seeker would be giving the employer a preview of his performance once he's on the payroll.
When they're invited for an interview: The job seeker should ask the recruiter or employer's representative what created the job opening. For example, if he learns that the manager who previously held the position was terminated because of poor management of vendor relationships, he should come to the interview prepared to promote his vendor management capabilities. He should bring a handout describing how he upgraded vendor quality and reduced or controlled costs though more rigorous due diligence, negotiating separately for each component of the contract as opposed to a bundled price, and incorporating performance standards into the contract that-if not met-would result in cost reductions. The job seeker should quantify the improvement in vendor performance by comparing costs and quality metrics before and after the actions he took.
After the interview: A well-crafted thank-you letter can be instrumental in winning a new job. The candidate should use the letter to demonstrate the value he would add in the position based on what he learned during the interview. Even if he mentioned these points in the interview, he should elaborate on them in the letter for two reasons: First, the interviewer may have forgotten them because he experienced information overload from meeting with many candidates; second, even if the interviewer remembered them, by documenting these points in the thank-you letter, the job seeker will make it easier for the interviewer to convey the job seeker's qualifications to his manager. Moreover, since job seekers almost universally leave an interview realizing that they neglected to mention important points, the thank-you letter gives them a second chance to express them.

To read Part 1 of this interview, click here.