You are unlikely to get a great IT job through the newspaper’s classified ads. So, where do you start? One solution is to make cold calls to firms that could hire someone with your qualifications. Another option might be to network. While these strategies might work, your probabilities of success are not high.

The best thing you could do is get an advocate to help you. Work with an IT staffing firm that has a large database of employers in your field. They are also always working with new clients. When employers are looking to hire someone with your skills, they often talk to an IT recruiter.

What happens once you sign up? Here is the most probable route:

First, you will meet with an IT staffing recruiter.

He or she might go by the title of recruiter, staffing coordinator, or staffing manager. They will get to know you better through an informal interview and asking you to fill out forms. The more information you can give them, the more they can be your advocate.

When you get the application form, fill it out completely. Many IT candidates mess up this first step. They are vague about their knowledge, skills, experiences or accomplishments.

Imagine that you are a staffing manager. You have just received a phone call from a company looking for a network engineer. What is the first thing that you do? You slough through a stack of application forms. If your application is only partially filled out, it might get overlooked. Someone who is less qualified than you may get the job.

On any given day, a staffing manager works with many employers and job seekers. It can be overwhelming trying to remember details.

So do yourself a favor and fill out every single question in the application as best you can. Include everything including your previous supervisor’s name and telephone number. Be clear, concise, and precise.

After a staffing manager interviews you, they also interview another dozen people. Then the day after, they talk to a dozen more. By the end of the week, they are lucky if they remember the name of their spouse.

Even if a staffing manager does remember you, they will not call you to ask questions. Give the staffing manager all the information they need to make an informed decision. Clearly explain your qualifications and your interests.

Second, you will get a job interview.

Once you get a job interview, do your best to interview well. In fact, you should have read quite a bit about how to present yourself in an interview.

Think of interviews like auditioning for a starring role in a movie.

In a roomful of people seeking the role, the person with the best performance who looks the part will get the role. Often the only reason someone gets the job is because how much they practiced for the audition.

Here are 3 tips on how to interview well.

  1. Go through a list of questions employers often ask during an interview. Practice role playing. Your role is to answer the questions as clearly as possible.
  2. Dress for the part. This means dress appropriately. Don’t overdress or underdress. If you’re looking for a job laying cables, dressing up like a senior executive won’t work. Conversely, if you’re hoping to manage an IT department, don’t look as if you just got back from the gym.
  3. Be polite and respectful. Speak in clear sentences; avoid mumbling, slang or jargon. Your interviewer may have no technical knowledge at all. They may be someone in management.  Talking above their heads will not win them over. In other words, just be easy to get along with, neither pretentious nor as humble as a Zen monk. You don’t have to be an extrovert to get the job. Many people in IT are introverts. It doesn’t matter. What companies are looking for is someone who is competent, who will do the job, who is honest and reliable.

A Temp Position

If you do get the job, do everything that you promised. Keep your word. You may get a temp-to-permanent position. This is often a provisional acceptance to see how you work out. If you have to go for a drug test, show up on time. Don’t procrastinate, make excuses, or give any reason to doubt that you are not a man or woman of your word.

A Permanent Position

Once you get the job, stay on task. Avoid doing things that might make your employer have second thoughts. Just because you got the job doesn’t mean that you can keep it.

When people get jobs in the IT field, they are often on their best behavior for a few months then begin to slack off. They show up late for client appointments. They surf the net when bored. They do many silly things to jeopardize their career. Even if the job is not as promising as you hoped, continue to improve your professional skills. You never know what incredible opportunities the future will bring.