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Tips on Getting Hired – Part 4

Getting a job is hard. If you’ve been lucky enough not to struggle for a job, don’t make the mistake of thinking it will always be easy. Equally, finding a good job is harder still. Some more tips for you to consider:

  • Leverage your recruiter. They know the companies you’ll be interviewing at, ask what to expect – is it a hard technical interview? Panel interview? Do they want super stars or dependable workers (or both?). Are they free thinking and forward looking, or stuck in a rut. Note that none of those is necessarily bad, but understanding the game going in reduces tension and gives you a chance to prepare.
  • Potential employers are not going to tell you why you weren’t hired. Maybe your interviewing skills suck, maybe you were up against someone better – regardless, they aren’t going to tell you. But…they will probably tell your recruiter! Your recruiter wants that feedback because they want to either place you or put you on the back burner. If you don’t interview well they can help. If your skills aren’t there, they should recommend a correction – but could be back burner time. Ask your recruiter every time for the feedback.
  • It’s old school, but send a follow up email after the interview. If you’re still interested, let them know. If you flubbed a question, go find the answer and reference it in your email – candidly. Remember to spell check! If you see wiggle room on benefits that might make it work for you, mention that too (though be careful about negotiating too soon if you think you’ve got a good chance).
  • Pay attention to how they treat you. Interviewing is stressful on both sides, so it’s a chance to see their corporate ethos under pressure. Are the interview questions fair and challenging? Do they appear to be targeting what the job description defined and at the right level? Do they treat you as a potentially valuable employee, or just a number? Don’t let one misstep cause you to write them off, but it may well be something you want to talk about at the second interview if that happens.
  • Have source code and/or projects ready to show off, and to talk through how/why it works. Obviously you can take a lot of time and care in putting those examples together, is it a real world example of your abilities? Yes! Managers get that not all work is done to superlative standards due to time and resources, but they would like to see that given time you know how to do top quality work. It doesn’t need to be a a ton of code, say 2-3 pages.
  • If you’re transitioning to a new product/skill, show that you’re already working on it. Download SQL, Oracle, My SQL, Crystal, Perl – whatever – and do something with it that you can show/talk about. I’ve been using SQL for more over 10 years, if I was going on an interview for an Oracle job I would want to install it, create a database, create a table, create a job, back it up – and be able to talk the things I had noticed that were the same or different. Yes, both require a DBA and both require similar skills, but the products are different. As an employer I want to see that you get that, that you’re willing to put in sweat equity on your own time, and that you care enough to try.

One more post on this tomorrow!


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Steve Jones on 22 June 2009

Good hints, and definitely a follow up helps. I know it keeps the candidate in my mind when I've been interviewing people.

Posted by Nathan on 29 June 2009

Brilliant call on asking the Recruiter regarding Feedback, I would never have thought of that!

Posted by Jason Miller on 30 June 2009

 My experience has been even the recruiters are hesitant to give you candid feedback.  The employers and recruiters are always reserved in what they say, fearful of litigation.  

Posted by Steve Jones on 30 June 2009

I think it's partially a worry of litigation, but also just laziness. Most of the recruiters I've known weren't much better than telemarketers. Making calls, placing people as fast as they could.

There are some great people out there as well, but they seemed (sadly) to be the exception.

Posted by brucecanada on 30 June 2009

excellent tips.

Posted by Trey on 30 June 2009

I guess I've been lucky to have had three recruiters that gave me great feedback. That said, there were more than three that didn't give me anything (literally). I didn't even know that I had been turned down. So it really seems to be luck of the draw. It certainly doesn't hurt to try to get feedback, though. Good luck, everyone.

Posted by Mayank Khatri on 30 June 2009

Hi Steve, Really looking forward to see you in Richmond. I am big fan of urs for founding this great web site.

Posted by reuben.anderson on 1 July 2009

I've never had anything but problems with recruiters, and I really don't understand their mentality. As a well paid professional, sure it's in their long term interest to retain me as a customer.

Instead, they appear to simply do a keyword search on CV's and put you forward, with absolutely zero consideration as to whether it's something you're interested in, whether you're a good fit.

I must have tried 30 or more agencies last year, ended up entirely disallusioned and lothe to answer the phone.

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