Dallas IT Staffing & Career Blog

Blog for the Dallas IT and technical job markets. News, advice and tips for job searching, resume writing, interviewing and IT career growth in 2016.
Thursday, 25 September 2014

Cover Letter 101: Sell, Don’t Tell


A cover letter is just another opportunity for you to sell yourself to the hiring manager.  Take full advantage of that advertising space and make it powerful and convincing.

How do you accomplish that?  Sell, don’t tell. And by that, we mean: Use powerful anecdotes from your personal experience to illustrate your super powers.

For example, you might want to say: “I have excellent growth potential.”  Your reader, though, may simply judge your statement as hype.  After all, the average person is inundated daily with sales pitches and exaggerated claims.  Instead, sell by providing a convincing story.

Try this: “I was hired as a junior administrative assistant and worked my way up through the ranks to become a department director.”

Your reader is more likely to be wowed by that example and to conclude: “Hey, this candidate has excellent growth potential.”  Instead of “telling” the hiring manager something, you let the hiring manager come to his or her own conclusion.

It is, of course, the conclusion you wanted them to come to, all along.

If there is one industry that never gets "old" or feels mundane, it is the Information Technology business. It seems like every few months there is another new skill that must be learned in order to "survive" and thrive in today's new world of work.

In a study conducted earlier this year by Foote Partners, 500 IT managers honed in on the skills that may be needed in order to continue growing in your IT career. By examining these recognized areas of growth, you may be able to determine a focus for your own IT skills development over the coming months. A recent article published by Work Intelligent, "The 5 IT Skills Companies are Looking For Today", takes a closer look at the five most relevant and marketable skills for IT professionals today.

photo-bright1GTN Technical Staffing in Dallas is being highlighted by the National Center for the Middle Market at its October National Middle Market Summit. GTN was chosen for its strong position as a Middle Market company in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro.

The NCMM, which is a joint project between Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business and GE Capital, focuses research on Middle Market companies, noting that those are the businesses that drive the US job market and economic growth.

"Innovation is vital," GTN co-founder Jim Bright told NCMM, during an on-camera interview that focused on what drives the company's success. "Innovation comes from the relationship you have with people."

GTN Technical Staffing employs 280 full-time staff and provides staff augmentation and project staffing to other Middle Market and Fortune 500 companies across the US and in more than a dozen countries worldwide. GTN specializes in IT staffing, providing experts in a broad range of fields from cutting-edge mobile applications to high-security Data Center growth and management.

GTN is noted for its nimbleness and ability to flex and grow with client needs.

"Our decision making process is very lean," Mr. Bright said. "It's go, go, go.

Mr. Bright's business partner and co-founder, Greg Smith, added that GTN invests significantly in its employees, providing them daily and specialized training in order to thrive in a competitive market and to help set GTN apart from the competition.

"The biggest drivers of our success are our employees," Mr. Smith said.



dallas IT job 3We’ve all heard about those “whiz kids” who somehow managed to earn six-figure salaries before they turned 20; or that teenager whose mobile app made him a millionaire before his 18th birthday. But if you’re like me you are probably wondering: what is it that makes these young people so marketable to the big IT companies, and what do they have that you don’t have? Over the past few months, several media outlets have set out to answer this question. A few articles have explored what the top Silicon Valley firms are looking for in new tech talent.

Let’s face it; all interviews are not created equal, and there are very few resources out there to help people ace a technical interview. That’s because tech interviews are very different than any other profession.  

A recent article on Berkeley’s web site offers insightful advice from an expert on preparing for interviews with technical recruiters. For example, on a typical interview for coding, applicants will be expected to reverse a string, design a program or troubleshoot code that is laden with glitches. While it is entirely possible to find a forum that will guide you through the process, it is much easier to be successful when one can know exactly what to expect.

social_media_jobIt wasn’t long ago that if you said “social media,” people would think you were speaking a different language, but then again, what ever happened to the Sunday “Classifieds” section of Help Wanted ads?  Let’s face it; everything about job searching has radically changed over the past 10 to 15 years.  Technology has changed the way businesses hire and how applicants apply for jobs.  Remember the days when you could walk into a business, speak with the hiring manager and get an interview “on the spot?”  For the most part, those days are over.  Even a teenager’s after-school job usually requires an online form, so how can you stand out in a crowd of digitized resumes?

hiring-nowEvery year it seems like the recruitment industry must adjust to more changes and evolving trends, and this year is no exception.  According to an article on Recruiter.com, “Innovative Staffing Practices: 2014 Trends,” there are several trends impacting the way people search for and find employment.  Hiring has trended upward, but it’s not the same kind of hiring as in previous years.  Data-mining and advanced search tools continue to point recruiters directly to the most qualified candidates, and corporate collateral materials are becoming “experiential” marketing tools that go far beyond an 8 ½ X 11” Executive Summary.  Meanwhile, in terms of hiring, college graduates with STEM degrees continue to outpace all other degrees by more than double. 

Sometimes we just have a hunch that our job or position is about to be eliminated. Other times it is the company's instability or an overbearing boss. Whatever the reason, it's never a pleasant feeling to think you could be out of work any day. If you find yourself unsure about our primary source of income, it's usually time to move on. This shouldn't be a problem if you have a strong work history, but it can take a while to find a job. Looking for work is even more difficult when you're still in your current job, but that is always the best time to start searching.

There is a common perception that recruiters represent the candidate, not the client.  The reverse is actually true.  Clients pay us to find people they don't have the time or resources to find on their own.  They pay us to save them time and make their lives easier.  If a recruiter says he will not be able to help you, it doesn't mean that you are a bad person or unskilled; it probably just means that you do not fit into our current client base.  Read this LinkedIn article below for more information.

It seems like the technology job market in the United States is in a constant state of flux; one year there are too many job seekers and not enough open positions, and the next year IT staffing companies cannot find enough qualified candidates.  One reason for this is the rapid advancement in technology. 

Nearly every industry is now reliant on some form of information technology, whether it is a database, a shopping cart, a newsfeed or an Intranet.  Manufacturers are using robotics controlled by sophisticated software and doctors are using electronic medical records.

Terms like “cloud computing” are so hot, they have earned their way into the American vernacular.  Candidates with the right skill sets are in high demand once again, and as a result organizations are finding it harder to retain the best talent.