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Do You Still Need a Cover Letter When Applying to an IT Job

Due to the fact that most IT jobs primarily require a high degree of technical experience and ability, many job candidates in the industry assume that sending a resume to an employer on its own will sufficiently demonstrate their qualifications for a particular role. Resumes, after all, are intended to be clear-cut and straightforward documents that lay out the bare facts of your professional experience and skills.

While resumes are undoubtedly a crucial component that should be included in every job application, they don’t necessarily provide employers with an in-depth feel of an applicant’s character or unique abilities. In order to communicate those qualities, it’s essential to include a cover letter in every application that you submit in your IT job search.

What are the benefits of a cover letter?

As mentioned above, a resume – while very useful – should only be communicating the bare-bones facts of one’s career: work experience, education, technical skills, awards, contact information, and so on. A cover letter, on the other hand, should paint a picture in an employer’s mind of who you are, why you’re passionate about what you do, and how, specifically, your unique background, skills, and experience make you the best possible candidate for the role that you’re applying to.

In other words, it should take the facts that are contained in your resume and turn them into a story about how you’ve come to be who you are and where you are today.

What are the components of the ideal cover letter?

Compared to resumes, cover letters typically require a bit more time, thought, and effort. To simplify things a bit, here are four basic components that should be included in every cover letter:

 

  • Greeting, such as “Dear Mrs. [insert name of hiring manager].

 

  • Body paragraph containing an outline of your experience and the specific reasons why you’re a uniquely good fit for the job.

 

  • Role and Industry-specific keywords placed strategically throughout the letter.

 

  • Appropriate closing, such as “sincerely,” or, “thank you for your consideration.”

 

To learn more about how to format a compelling and effective cover letter, check out some of these templates.

At RightStone, we’re passionate about providing job candidates with the education and resources that they’ll need to advance to the next stage in their careers. To get started on your IT job search, contact us today!


8 Traits that Successful Professionals Show

Every job varies in terms of the skills, abilities, and talents that are required for success. A technical skill that’s absolutely crucial to one role might be completely superfluous to a professional working at a separate job. That said, there are some traits that every highly successful professional possesses, irrespective of their particular role or of the industry that they work in.

By understanding the qualities that are conducive to success in any role, we’ll be much more likely to cultivate those traits within ourselves and thereby make it more likely that we’ll enjoy success in our own careers.

With that in mind, here are eight common traits of highly successful professionals:

1. Discipline.

Before success becomes possible, an individual must learn how to forego impulsive pleasure, concentrate for long periods of time, and never veer from their own standards of excellence. All of this must start with self-discipline.

2. Passion.

Professionals who care deeply about their work and who believe that their goals are worthwhile are much more likely to be successful than those whose commitment to the task is merely lukewarm.

3. Eagerness to learn.

Success requires an ability to consistently update one’s store of knowledge and to adopt alternative points of view.

4. Ability to take risks.

If you’re not willing to take risks, you will remain in the same place.

5. Organization.

As success accumulates, so too does responsibility. Staying on top of a growing number of daily tasks requires an ability to keep things in order over long periods of time.

6. They seek opportunities to learn from the success of others.

No one climbs the ladder of success on their own. There are countless relationships that have to be cultivated and maintained along the way. For every successful professional out there, there are mentors, teachers, and inspirational figures behind the scenes who each played some sort of role in that person’s achievements. The ability to engage with and learn from successful individuals who came before you is crucial to our own thriving.

7. Communication.

If you’re able to communicate in a forthright, confident, and articulate manner, you’re much more likely to clearly express – to yourself and to others – what success actually looks like for you, and what you need to achieve it.

8. They prioritize their health.

Physical and mental health is the foundation for any success story. When we fail to nourish our bodies and our minds, we’re setting ourselves up to encounter serious impediments to success. In order to be successful in our careers, we first have to ensure that we’re getting the diet, rest, exercise, and self-care that we need to be able to perform at our best.

Improvement is an ongoing process, and the actions that we take today determine the degree of success that we’ll enjoy tomorrow. At RightStone, we specialize in providing professionals with the resources that they need to advance in their careers. Contact us today to get started!


4 Mistakes You Should Avoid During Your Next Interview

The interview is arguably the most pivotal phase of the entire hiring process. After a candidate has been deemed to be a potentially good fit for a role based on his or her resume and cover letter, the interview is the chance for applicant and employer alike to determine if there truly is a match between the candidate’s personality, temperament, and ability, with the unique culture of the workplace that they would be entering into. It’s crucial, therefore, for candidates to know what they should expect during a typical interview, and how they should prepare.   

Knowing what to say, what to wear, and how to compose oneself during an interview is one thing; knowing what not to say and what sort of behaviors to avoid is quite another. In this post, we’ll walk you through four common mistakes that you should be careful to avoid in your next job interview. 

1. Failing to familiarize yourself beforehand with your interview.

In most cases, employers and hiring managers will let you know before your interview who it is that you’ll be speaking with once you arrive at your prospective workplace. By taking the time beforehand to read up on your interviewer’s (or interviewers’) profile(s), you will have a better sense going in of which points of your experience you should be sure to touch upon. It will also give you a chance to see if you have any professional connections with your employer that might provide some common ground. 

2. Asking questions with answers that were provided by the job post.

Before you head into an interview, always be sure to study (and study again) the job post or other resources from which you initially learned about the opening job. No job posting will be fully comprehensive in its description of the role and its responsibilities, but they will usually provide you with answers to the most basic questions. If you ask your interviewer questions with obvious answers, that could convey a message that you’re disorganized or unable to do your homework prior to an important meeting. 

3. Failing to dress appropriately.

A candidate showing up to an interview looking scruffy, disheveled, or inappropriately dressed is sending a message that he or she might be equally careless with their work. Showing up to an interview looking groomed and sharp, on the other hand, sends a clear message that you have respect for the interviewer and that you take your professionalism seriously.

4. Being distracted by your phone.

For many of us, glancing at our phones during a conversation has become such a deeply ingrained habit that we tend to do it almost unconsciously. This may be (more or less) okay during a normal social interaction, but it can greatly harm your chances of success during a job interview. Before you go into an interview, be sure to turn your phone off so that you’ll be fully present and undistracted by incoming messages or calls.

At RightStone, we’re working with IT candidates and top employers to find connections that last. If you’re ready to start looking for an exciting new role in IT, check out our jobs page. 


Do You Love Your Job? 3 Signs It May Be Time to Move On

It’s easy to know when you love your job. When you’re happy in your current industry, company, and role, you feel excited and energized at the beginning of each day (or at least most days). You’re able to foster mutually rewarding benefits with your coworkers. And at the end of the day, you tend to feel a genuine sense of satisfaction. Arriving at the realization that we don’t love our jobs, on the other hand, is not nearly as straightforward. In many cases, people might continue working at a job that they don’t enjoy for years, simply because it’s able to provide security and stability. In others, employees might continue to put up with toxic work environments or responsibilities that they don’t enjoy because they imagine that there will be some reward awaiting them in the future which will justify all of their present dissatisfaction. 

There are plenty of tech professionals out there who dislike their current role, but who are hesitant to leave, not least because of the competitive nature of their industry. Sometimes, it’s best to deal with the temporary frustrations and stay put. Other times, it’s time to move on and look for something better.  

Here are three reliable signs that it might be time to leave your current job: 

You don’t feel challenged by your work.

In order to feel satisfied, useful, and engaged at work, it’s important for most of us to be challenged by our roles and responsibilities. Not too much, but enough that we genuinely feel that we’re growing personally, professionally, and intellectually. If you feel that you barely have to put in any real effort in order to be successful at your current job, that’s a reliable sign that your time and energy would be better spent somewhere new.

You often feel sick, tired, or stressed.

There’s a certain amount of stress that will come with the territory of any job. Consistent stress, on the other hand – whether it’s the result of your workload, work environment, boss, or all of the above – can have seriously negative consequences on your physical and mental health. If you start noticing that you’re regularly achy, tired, anxious, or maybe just not always the most pleasant person to engage in conversation, it’s probably not just you – it could be the demands of your current job. 

Employees at your company tend to not stick around for very long.

If you feel satisfied (or maybe you just feel neutral) at your current job, but you start to notice that new faces around the office seem to rapidly come and go, be careful. That’s a reliable sign that there may be some unresolved or unspoken problems at the workplace, and also that there are better places to work that are out there. 

If you’re ready to begin looking for your next role in the IT industry, check out our jobs page. 


Learn What The Top Employers Are Looking For On Your Resume

Your resume is your first real point of contact with any potential employer, the document that will serve as their first impression of your background and suitability for a role. Everyone’s resumes vary depending on their personal experience and skills, but there are some common features that all employers look for in a resume when trying to determine if a candidate is a good fit.

Here are some tips for organizing your resume to increase your chances of having it catch the eye of a potential employer:

Include Industry and Role-Specific Keywords – Top employers typically receive huge numbers of resumes, which they need to have strategies for sifting through. One of the quickest ways for an employer to gauge how well-suited an applicant is for a role is to look for “keywords” on a resume. These are words describing skills, background experience, and knowledge that demonstrate an aptitude for the specific role and industry being applied to. Before you submit your resume, study the job description, company, and industry you’re applying to so that you can add keywords that will grab a hiring manager’s attention.

Watch Out For Embellishing – Most top employers who are trying to fill a role get inundated with resumes that are exaggerated. When a candidate’s resume includes, to the letter, every single required skill that was listed in the job post, that’s a pretty good indicator that that applicant does not possess those skills. When you’re building your resume, make sure not to include skills or expertise that don’t accurately reflect your professional background. When it comes to applying for a new role, it pays to be honest and to use your legitimate skills and background as your selling points.

Communicate the Progress You’ve Achieved in Your Career – When they’re looking at a resume, employers want to be able to tell that a candidate has accomplished some forward progress throughout their career. This will come across from your past job titles and the companies you’ve worked for, but there are other ways of communicating progress as well. When you’re outlining job descriptions for each position you’ve held, be sure to describe the specific responsibilities that you had and the skills that were required for you to be successful. That way, employers will get a much clearer sense of what you’ve learned, how and when you gained those skills, and how they were translated into you excelling throughout your career.

At RightStone, we’re working with IT candidates and top employers to find connections that last. If you’re ready to start looking for an exciting new role in IT, check out our jobs page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How to Write the Perfect IT Cover Letter

In the course of the IT professional’s job search, certain steps can ultimately mean the difference between being selected for an interview and being lost in the crowd. One of the most crucial of these steps is the crafting and submission of strong, compelling, and up-to-date cover letters.

The cover letter is your opportunity to leave a strong impression in the mind of a hiring manager. This document should communicate enough personal information that it creates a comprehensive picture of you, your background, and your experience; but it should not be so long that it leaves recruiters feeling bored. The bottom line is that creating the perfect cover letter is a balancing act; one that requires some knowledge about what, specifically, IT managers are looking for.

With that in mind, let’s explore four crucial steps to drafting the perfect IT cover letter:

  • Draft Your Cover Letter so That it’s Complementary To, Not Duplicative Of, Your Resume – Your resume and your cover letter are two separate documents serving separate purposes, and they should be drafted accordingly. Your resume will delineate the specific roles you’ve had throughout your career, and your cover letter should detail the specific skills that you’ve acquired as a result of working in each role. In other words, your resume should be seen as a more technical document; your cover letter, on the other hand, should describe how your experience has caused you to grow and develop professionally over the years.
  • Don’t Include Too Much Personal Information – Your cover letter should leave hiring managers with a detailed sense of your professional skills and experience. You don’t need to take up too much space discussing your personal or family life (unless that’s specifically requested in the job post). As a general rule, you should stick to elucidating your professional credentials and how they qualify you for a particular role when you’re crafting your cover letter.
  • Tailor Each Cover Letter for the Role You’re Applying For – If you’re submitting a generic cover letter for every role that you apply to, hiring managers will be able to tell. This will not reflect well on your suitability for a role. Before you submit, be sure that you mention somewhere in your cover letter the following pieces of information:
    • The position you’re applying for (this should be mentioned in the first couple of sentences)
    • How you first heard about the job
    • The skills and experience that qualify you for this particular role
  • Be honest – As with any part of the application and interview process, honesty is always the best policy. Your cover letter should focus on your background, experience, skills, and aspirations in as transparent a way as possible. Stating – or even implying – that you have skills that you haven’t developed may benefit you in the short-term, but it will eventually come back to haunt you. Be yourself and sell your merits exactly as they are.

Looking to Grow Your Career?

At RightStone, we’re working with IT candidates and top employers to find connections that last. If you’re ready to start looking for an exciting new role in IT, check out our jobs page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Networking: The Lost Art of Job Seeking

 

To a large degree, the modern job candidate exists in a world of anonymity. Curated social media profiles, online applications reviewed and assessed more and more by algorithms, and automated email responses are all valuable tools for most employers; however, such detached interactions leave most job seekers feeling alienated. Once upon a time, face-to-face networking was the modus operandi for job candidates. In today’s informationally overloaded and impersonal world, it could once again be the best method for sidestepping the digital frenzy and forging meaningful professional relationships.

Face-to-face networking is as powerful a tool as it was two decades ago, but it’s become something of a lost art. Here are a few tips for improving your face-to-face networking skills to propel your job search:

Aim to Learn Before Aiming to Impress: When you’re engaging in conversation with a colleague or a professional contact, make it your primary goal to listen as attentive as possible rather than speaking as much as you can.

Be Equipped With Business Cards: It’s hard to overstate the short-term and long-term utility of having a personal business card — with your name, phone number, and email address — on you while you’re networking. People’s memories are often far less reliable than they believe, so having a tangible record of you will greatly increase the chances of them connecting with you in the future.

Reach Out: After establishing a connection with someone in person, following up with a short, friendly email is a great way to keep the dialogue going. When you’re reaching out, be sure to be specific and reference something that was discussed in your initial conversation.

Have an Intention: Before you set out to meet people, be sure that you’re clear and confident in the specific ways your expertise will benefit them, and how they’ll be able to help you in turn. Having these details mapped out beforehand will make you much more relaxed than if you were simply starting out not knowing what a mutually fruitful relationship might look like.

Get the Ball Rolling: If you set up the meeting with a goal in mind (as you should be if you’re networking with intent), don’t make your contact be the one that has to break the ice. By arriving to the meeting early and starting the conversation by laying out your background and your vision for what a beneficial relationship might look like, you’ll make a positive impression as a confident and efficient asset that people will want to work with.

Looking For Your Next Career Fit?

At RightStone, we’re working with IT candidates and top employers to make connections that last. If you’re ready to start looking for your next exciting role in IT, we’re here to help.


Phone Interview? See What the Tech Industry Is Asking

The first step to getting a job? Successfully nailing the phone interview. Your resume is the calling card for your career; the highlights of your skills and experience that can help you get noticed. After that comes the first conversation. A phone interview is a chance for a recruiter to get a feel for your personality, gauge a little bit about if there’s a skill match for the position, get a better understanding of a possible corporate culture fit, and ultimately decide if it makes sense to introduce you as a candidate to the hiring manager. Here are some of the most common tech-industry phone interview questions – and how you should handle them.

  1. “How familiar are you with [specific programming language]?” – This question will only come up for some tech positions, but don’t let its straightforwardness fool you. Companies want to know that you’re adaptable and willing to learn. Even if you don’t work in that specific language, make sure you’re clear about which ones you do have experience with and if you’re looking to add more to your portfolio of experience. Also, avoid simple yes or no answers by giving brief examples or context.
  2. “Why do you want to come work for us?” – Before you talk to a recruiter, make sure you take a look at the company’s website, LinkedIn, or Glassdoor page so you can get a sense of what kind of business they are. What about their goals or mission statement resonates with you? Do they have a lot of positive reviews where people are excited to be contributing their skills to a worthwhile company? Are they developing a solution or product you believe in? Make sure to highlight your interest in the work the company is doing and why you want to be part of that specifically.
  3. “What are your weaknesses?” – This question isn’t a trick. You don’t need to answer with, “Nothing, I’m great at everything I do” and you also don’t need to go into detail about how you’re bad at budgeting. Stay within the lines of the job description. It’s ok to be honest, as long as you can make it seem like it’s not a strong suit without making it seem like a hindrance. For instance, saying, “I’ve never been a strong extrovert, which is why I decided to build my experience in developing instead of help desk or administration work” can make it seem like you’ve identified a way to make your weakness work for you.

Later interviews will often ask for more examples of your work on projects and possibly ask you to do a work sample for evaluation. A phone interview is the first step to bigger conversations that can help you land your next job.

If you’ve been thinking about a new job, get in touch with RightStone today. We can work with you to find your next tech role and get you interview ready.

 

 


5 Tips to Overhauling Your Resume

Your resume is still the best tool to get noticed by recruiters. It’s a streamlined way to showcase your career and education highlights in an easy format to quickly send off to employers. It’s a good idea to keep your resume updated at all times – even if you’re happy in your current position or only passively looking for a new role. This way if a can’t-be-missed or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ever comes up, you’ll be ready with resume in hand.

Here’s how to overhaul or improve your resume.

  1. Pay Attention to Format: Whether you’re handing out print copies of your resume or sending them through email and job portal uploads, the top of the page matters most. This is what recruiters and hiring managers see first. Make sure the most relevant information is at the top of your resume.
  2. Get a Second Opinion: Have a resume writer or other qualified person take a look at your resume and ask for input. Whether it’s giving you information on what a 30-second review tells them or offering advice on how to format your experience for maximum impact, you can get a lot out of third-party outlook.
  3. Make it Match: Even if it’s not a highly designed resume, make sure it looks clean, professional and consistent. Ensure your fonts in the header section match the body of your resume and take time to match your cover letter to your resume.
  4. Edit Your Experience: If you feel like your experience section is lacking, incorporate more kinds of experience to fill it out. Everything from volunteer work to part-time jobs to freelance and contracting positions can help make your resume more robust and showcase a broader skill set.
  5. Use More Data and Facts: Describing your experience with qualifying information is key – how many projects did you work on and what were the results? If you oversaw a software installation that improved productivity of a department or entire business unit, note the percentage increase on your resume. Showcasing accomplishments that can be linked to hard data is one of the best ways to stand out and solidify your experience.

Improving your resume can ensure that you are taken seriously as a candidate and can qualify you for the best possible positions. Performing an overhaul or making significant changes to your current resume can make sure it’s ready for wherever your career path takes you.

If you’re looking for your next job opportunity, get in touch today. Our expert staffing professionals can help connect you with the next step in your career.


Top Cities for the IT Professional Looking to Relocate

The tech industry shows no signs of slowing down. All across the country, most technology-related jobs continue to see growth, and new positions continue to pop up on job boards. So, where’s the best place for an IT professional to settle down and grow a career? Are there cities worth uprooting and moving to in search of a dream job?

Student Loan Hero notes that certain IT jobs are more common and abundant in certain areas of the country. According to their study, computer programmers have the best chance of finding work in the southern region of the US, while web developers and systems analysts have more success in the Midwest.

Overall, the south is home to 47 of the top 100 cities that are best for those seeking tech jobs to find work. Not only is work readily available in these growing areas, but the cost of living to salary ratio is also higher than in other areas. If you’re looking to relocate for your tech career, you might consider making your home in one of the following U.S. cities:

  • Hinesville, GA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Hattiesburg, MI
  • New Bern, NC
  • California, MD

Another 2018 survey found that tech workers are also finding work in other major cities, all experiencing population growth and new business development, including:

  • Dallas
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • Houston
  • Miami

Whatever your dream IT job is – cybersecurity, business intelligence, programming, web and mobile development or another focus – you don’t have to settle for what’s available within your zip code. Many companies are short on good talent, particularly in certain areas, so it might actually be easier to find your dream job outside of your closest major metropolitan area. Don’t limit your job search to your immediate vicinity. Finding an innovative company in an up and coming city can help accelerate your career, so it’s worth considering spots outside of your current neighborhood.

If you’re looking for your next IT job, we can help. Our expert recruiters are connected to a large network of businesses looking for IT talent and experienced candidates just like you. If you’re working towards your dream job and need some help with your search, get in touch today.


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