What You Can Glean from Having a Conversation with Several IT Executives in Interviews
Over the past four months I’ve been on several interviews for a variety of IT positions. I’ve sat in front of several Directors, Managing Directors, and Chief Information Officers (CIO’s) of some very large companies.
While my background affords me the opportunity to get noticed by a lot of recruiters, it doesn’t always indicate an offer is around the corner for every position I interview for. Conversely, I don’t always except every offer I’m given. However, I’ve found the experience to be more valuable than anything else.
The lessons learned from having so many conversations with hiring executives is priceless, and quite frankly there aren’t many people that can garner the kinds of calls for interviews that I’ve been able to attract based off of my 15 years of IT experience.
Honestly, I believe I’ve underestimated my own value as it pertains to my own background because I find myself amazed at the places that I end up! I’ve been very fortunate to have had a very long and diversified background in Information Technology across Government, non-for-profit agencies, as well as a multitude of companies in the private sector.
So here is my take….
If you have a lot of experience in technology it can go over quite well, but where I find a huge need in the market place is for Information Technology specialists that not only have the experience and technical understanding, but are also certified Project Management Professionals. This is probably the most in-demand certification you can have in the market right now.
What Is the Project Management Professional Certification?
The PMP, as it’s called, is a Globally recognized Project Management standard that is offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMI is a very large not-for-profit members-only organization that serves the project management profession. The professional research and expertise provided by this organization is responsible for creating more than 700,000 members, PMP certification holders, and volunteers in nearly every country in the world to enhance their careers, improve organizational success as it pertains to project work, and successfully aid in maturing and spreading the profession as a Global standard.
This certification is one of the most important certifications you can attain as a career professional in any field. Project Management not only applies to Information Technology but it also applies to Human Resources, Construction, Banking, and any area where the standard and methodology of managing projects using the PMP standard can be applied. The standard allows for projects to be managed in a systemized manner that accounts for compliance, keeping organizational work within budget, proper coordination and time management, as well as managing and mitigating risk to an organizations resources, assets, as well as managing the “bottom line.”
You can read more about the PMP certification at www.pmi.org. I am currently studying for the 4-hour exam which I will be taking in May. I will have another blog post coming once I’ve certified.
6 Things I’ve Learned from my Most Recent Job Interviews
There is a lot to be said about what companies are looking for in the right candidate. Here are a few things I’ve learned from interviewing with several large companies over the past few months:
1. Experience speaks for itself.
One of the very first things that many hiring managers notice about my resume is the extent, length, and breadth of experience I’ve had over the years. If you are just breaking into the industry now or looking to build your resume I highly suggest taking different contract positions to start. They can range in length from 6 months to 18 months. Parking at one company can be a good thing long-term, but there is a great amount of value in showing someone that you’ve had a history of experience with different organizations.
2. Know your craft and be prepared to speak to it on all levels.
Your ability to articulate and clearly explain your area of expertise is critical in an interview. You need to understand the language and the terminology that managers can relate to. So for example, individuals that are well-versed in Project Management have a universal language that is always used when you have a conversation with anyone about Project Management principles. This is why, again, learning and mastering the methodology through the PMP certification is so vital. Because of my understanding of Project Management I can go anywhere on this planet and speak highly to Project Management principles and how they apply in any corporate setting.
3. Focus your interview responses in such a way that communicates how you can add value.
Organizations, or at least privately held companies, are in the business of making money. At the end of the day each business unit in a company has specific business goals and objectives to meet. At a high level, it is all about strategic goals that make a business more profitable, more efficient, or perhaps improves operations and cuts costs. When you are speaking to a hiring manager speaking their language means that you are selling them on how you can come in and help them meet their goals. You may be interviewing for an entry-level position and think to yourself, “I don’t need to be concerned with corporate strategy or Profit and Loss”, but the more you understand the big picture at a high-level the better you will be able to convince someone that you are the right person for the job.
4. Stand Out
You should always dress to impress when you go to any in-person interview. Don’t wear a lot of cologne or perfume as this can be a turn-off. I’ve know some hiring managers to not even want to interview a candidate if they have on too much smell good. Invest in a professional resume writer and I would highly encourage you to read a recent post I wrote on the topic of resume writing, How My Resume Produced a six-figure income in IT Consulting. Bottom line here is this, do everything you can to stand above the competition.
5. Be prepared for at least 3 rounds of interviews
In the Information Technology world there are a lot of people that claim a great deal of expertise on a resume, but cannot back it up in interviews. Most companies hire people on a contractual basis over making them a permanent offer because of this exact issue. It helps them mitigate loss in hiring someone who can’t perform the job to the expected requirements. So for this reason you can expect to be interviewed by 3, 4, or perhaps 5 different individuals before a decision is made to make you an offer. I know this all too well to be true where I’ve been on many interviews where I was grilled for hours by at least 3 different people. Companies are becoming more stringent in how they bring in talent into their organizations so be prepared. Take notes. Ask more questions than you talk, and again, know your craft!
6. Be Confident
Your resume, if it’s a good resume, will speak for itself but it’s posture, demeanor and overall confidence in how you talk and articulate your skills and experience that mean the most. Sometimes we can get caught up in thinking too much as to whether or not we are making a good impression, answering an interviewers questions with the right answers, and so on. It’s ok to be nervous, it’s natural, but understand that if you weren’t qualified to be in front of a hiring manager, you would have never got the interview. Speak with confidence about your life and your experiences and be yourself.