The New Job Search

Don't snooze through the recovery. Spend your time building skills, scouting out hot job segments and priming for what's next.

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The successful ones then tailor their résumés and pitches to fit each situation, she says. So you need to understand what you bring to the table and what you want your employer to offer, too.

Ever-Essential Résumé

Résumés still matter, says Ryan Erving, a director of business development who puts his company's IT consultants in front of hiring managers all the time. He points to one quality assurance tester who was perfect for two recent job openings but didn't initially attract the attention of potential employers. Erving says the tester's résumé was too generic, so he pushed him to write up a few points on his deep experience in performance- and load-balancing Web servers. The hiring managers took a closer look, and one quickly extended an offer.

"This is a worker who thought his résumé was good enough and didn't spend time to articulate what set him apart," Erving says. (Read more about résumé mistakes.)

To make sure you don't get lost in a pile of résumés, it's important to translate your tech skills into top- and bottom-line business values, says Dave Willmer, executive director of IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology in Menlo Park, Calif.

"You have to be able to speak to what the business impact was in terms of your responsibilities," says Willmer, a Computerworld columnist. Hiring managers want to know that your skills can deliver business results, whether it's reducing downtime because you resolve help desk calls quickly or because you can deliver a Web product that will help generate more sales.

But getting the right job means more than knowing what you offer. You should also know what to expect when you get there. You need to make sure your next employer isn't going bankrupt or planning to offshore its IT services. You want to ask about managers' styles and company culture, so you don't end up in an unsuitable environment.

You can get much of this information in advance, Sindell says. Financial statements, industry reports and news stories provide insight into the stability and structure of the company.

Your network can help, too, Sindell notes. Chances are you know someone who can connect you with a current or past employee who can get you the inside scoop. From there, be sure to ask pointed questions during your interviews so you can get information on the things that matter most to you.

"Obviously, the temptation is to try to figure out how to get a job as quickly as possible," Erving says. "But you need to have a place where you can work well with the organization."

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