Careers advice

Nailing your IT application: advice from a recruiter

Tech recruitment specialist Richard Lloyd gives his advice for IT job hunters in NZ.

NZ’s tech sector has a lot going for it. Companies in this industry tend to offer competitive salaries, great perks and flexible working arrangements. However, this means the competition is tough.

So how can you go above and beyond to ensure you’re ticking the boxes at each stage of the recruitment process?

To find out, we spoke to Richard Lloyd, Director at Halo Consulting, a specialist technology and digital recruitment agency.

1. Finessing a CV for IT jobs

According to Richard, your CV should provide the talking points for a job interview – what are your most relevant skills and experience, and what do you want the recruiter or hiring manager to know about you?

In particular, he advises job hunters in this sector add a short table to their CV with a clear breakdown of what they can do, and to what level.

“If a candidate includes a skills matrix, and an indication of how they rate themselves across core techinical skills, this is really helpful for employers and recruiters,” he explains.

For example, if you’re looking at a front-end developer role, you might want to centre your table around the programming languages you can work with, and your level of fluency with each. You should also add how many years you’ve used this skill or platform to back up your capability claim.

Richard’s other key takeaway for CVs and cover letters in the IT space, is to focus on what you did, not your team. Provide accurate accounts of relevant projects, showing details of the work you undertook, and the results you saw. While success is always welcome, showing what you learnt when things didn’t go to plan demonstrates a growth mindset.

As a final message, Richard says candidates shouldn’t be afraid to add in a section on what they do out of work. While this should be short and sweet, if a hiring manager gets the impression that you will get on and have things in common with them and their team, this can only aid your application.

Make sure your CV tells the recruiter what you did, not your team.

2. Preparing for an IT interview

As well as preparing for common IT job interview questions, Richard emphasises that candidates need to be able to talk in-depth about what they included in their CV. As interviews often take place a week or more after you’ve submitted your CV, it’s important to brush up on what you included near the time.

For example, if you’ve included stats and figures from projects you’ve worked on, make sure you know them and they don’t come as a surprise to you during the interview.

After that, it’s about getting the basics of interviewing right:

  • Look presentable: nail the dress code, and take some care over your appearance on the morning of the interview.
  • Be on time: Richard says going in 15 minutes early isn’t necessary, five minutes will do. But if you’re running late, give the interviewer a heads up, this courtesy goes a long way.
  • Be confident, but not cocky: of course, you need to sell your skills and experience. But arrogance doesn’t come across well – show you’re willing to listen as well as talk, and make sure your answers properly address the interviewer’s questions.

3. Negotiating a contract

You always need to feel valued in your work, both in terms of salary and the atmosphere of the team around you.

However, Richard has three key pieces of advice around negotiating the terms of your employment agreement in the IT space:

1. Have clear boundaries: if you’re working with a recruitment consultant, Richard emphasises it’s important to set a clear minimum salary expectation and stick to it. Trust your consultant, and don’t spring any surprises by changing how much you expect to be paid.

2. Don’t play businesses against each other: once you’ve received an offer, be careful about using it as leverage to get more from your current employer, or other businesses.

3. Know what matters to you: if you value other perks like flexible working hours or a particular set of values more than salary, it’s okay to accept a smaller salary to have these benefits.