So today I have two recruiter contacts. I call them that instead of interviews, basically because recruiters can’t hire you. They’re just a middleman/contact person. Someone you can tell your story to who can then turn around and sell you to the company. They’re important in that way even if they are often difficult to deal with. Some are much better than others at treating you like a person instead of a product with certain attributes (eg, PHP 12 years; SQL 19 years). I’ve been lucky this time around to deal with a few of the better kind of recruiter, although I’ve seen the others as well.
Part of it is that the skill set that makes you a technical person is often very different (and sometimes counter to) the skill set that makes you a recruiter. We’re very different kinds of people, and it often doesn’t mesh well. Yet, they need us as (at it’s base level) products to sell, and we need them because of that selling skill set. Because often we are not very good at it. I know I”m not a great salesman, I’ve tried it in the past. I have to have an incredible belief in the product to sell it. It’s got to be somethign I value and like and think other people would benefit from. In that way I do okay selling myself, and often my friends. There are very few actual things I do well at selling.
The thing about these contacts is that they are so preliminary you may walk away with them with nothing. I had one last week that was “Hi, My name is X, a recruiter for Y company. I’m just catching up to you to tell you I’ve got nothing.” Usually the contact is good, just so you can talk to someone and tell them your story. Because the resume, while it is a list of facts that becomes a story, when you talk to a living person, you have a story to tell. It’s your story, the story of how you got to where you are now, and what you want to be doing, and you want to tell a compelling one.
An important component of the story is to be as positive about things as possible. You didn’t leave the last job because they were a bunch of shitheads — even if that’s possible. Maybe you went on to pursue a more interesting technology. In IT one good reason to move from job to job is to keep your skills fresh. It shows that you are career minded, and moving forward with your career. A lot of IT people are happy doing the same thing they were always doing; for me that’s not who I am. Both stories are good ones, but they are about different people. Figuring out what that story is is important.
It helps you remember who you are, and to communicate it to other people. And if you’re an IT person who thinks stories are just stories, or just fiction, and that you can’t tell “stories” since they aren’t true by some measure of things. (Or not completely true, as part of storytelling is to pick what to focus on and what to leave out.) I just want to remind you that as human beings we are story telling creatures. (It seems that even some of the other high-order mammals may also be story tellers.) It’s something that we share across all humanity, and it’ something you share with that recruiter sitting across from you.
A compelling story is one they buy into and carry on to the client/future employer.
As a friend of mine often says, “So, what’s your story?”