IT Employment

Ask the HR recruiter

Got a question you'd like to ask an HR person? Now's your chance.

Vague job ads with anonymous companies. Obscure geographical descriptions of job locations. Ads that sounds too good to be true. Anyone who has ever looked for a job has encountered one or all of these.

So why are job ads written like this? Why does HR do a lot of the things it does? I've decided in order to answer these questions and many others like them, I would contact an HR person who has had experience with hiring in large corporations.

In preparation for the interview, I would like to ask all of you to tell me what questions you would really like the answers to. I will pick the five most common, or most compelling, questions, and get some honest answers from an HR person.

You can email your questions to me by clicking here, or just post them in the discussion below. Thanks!

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

55 comments
2707
2707

what is default subnet mask of class D & class E?

ivoyhip
ivoyhip

I do not think there is subnet mask for class D and class E. It is because these are classfull networking. Therefore, we do not need the subnet mask.

RayJeff
RayJeff

I've applied for several jobs over the past years that tech support positions; mainly phone-based support and not much direct support. One of the main questions I've gotten have been related to having any prior phone support experience. As I give my response, I can see the look int he interviewers' eyes that they are looking at me and thinking that I would not like/enjoy phone support. Much of the consulting work I do 95% of it is phone-based. And much of that is support. SO, why is it that the connection can be made that a person such as myself who has as much direct IT experience, so much hands-on experience that a person such as myself would do well with phone support? Crossing over from working in the Education sector IT to the public & private sector IT. The majority of my IT work has been in the Education field. Why is there such a problem with being able to find work in non-Education fields? It's gotten better for me over the years after having done contract work in the public sector. While there is differences in the sector-specific applications each use, in the general sense, every sector uses the same hardware systems (PCs, workstations, servers, etc), software (Operating systems, desktop applications, etc).

FlNightWizard
FlNightWizard

I am getting the 'overqualified' label and told I wouldn't be hired because I wouldn't stay in the position. If you don't stay, isn't that career advancement? You would think that someone would be hired if they were looking to grow in a career. But I know people interviewing don't consider these things. Any suggestions on how to overcome the overqualified label if you even get past HR?

tardius
tardius

My question is what qualifies HR recruiters to be the gatekeeper of job openings? I get the feeling most recruiters simply compare lines on a resume to their job posting to see who matches a position when really the IT manager should be evaluating experience and HR should be assisting with social, psychological and background materials. My 15+ years experience and management of teams and projects never seems to fit your requirements despite the fact that I apply to positions because I fit them fit them to a "T". Frustrated? Yes.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

There might even be enough questions and material for a regular column.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...that isn't too bad of an idea at all (regular column featuring HR rep). Personally, I like getting the perspectives of people outside of IT with regards to IT issues.

TBone2k
TBone2k

Many jobs on places like kijiji and craigslist are posted with vague information as to things like the location of the company, or missing details of the job, such as length of contract. Would it be acceptable to reply asking for such details before I waste my time customizing a resume for the job and the poster wastes their time calling me back only to find we don't have a good fit?

larrie_jr
larrie_jr

No one is perfect; not even the almighty HR Dept. So it stands to reason that the prime candidate doesn't always work out. In these rare instances, instead of putting out another general call, do they ever call back the remaining members of the top 5? top 3? 6 months done the road, when that prime candidate moves on to greener pastures, do they EVER try and call back those candidates who have made it so far through the process?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

In twenty+ years, so I'd say no. I was the prime candiadte the first time as well, I was also much more expensive.....

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

I was the #2 candidate & I was hired. But #1 only worked a couple of weeks before moving on. According to the rules it was still early enough they didn't have to go through the hiring process all over again.

RayJeff
RayJeff

With the exception of 2 past jobs, I've always been the number x candidate. And everytime, when the 1st or x number candidate didn't work out, I was given the call. Perfect example, I did some contract work several years ago. I don't know if I was the prime candidate, but I up there. At the time, I couldn't accept the job because I was working at my previous employer and I was waiting until my contract with that job was over. I got put on hold. 2 weeks later, I accepted the job. Come to find out that I was the 4th person in that position; the first 3 persons didn't last in the position. That's says alot. It's funny because my co-workers we're literally betting on how long I would be there. I don't know who won or if they all lost. But, I stayed at the worksite for about 10 months-the entire time of my contract.

genenj03
genenj03

Several different career coaches have told me that the purpose of HR, in regard to resumes, is to screen out the applicants they don't want to send forward to the hiring manager from the hundreds of applications they receive. It is up to the hiring manager to choose who is the best candidate. With this in mind, what is more important to someone in HR in the screening process for IT positions? Finding someone who's skills/experience match what is required, or finding someone who fits well with the company and can solve their problems bases on an opening statement or accomplishments listed?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

experience. 99% of HR and recruiters, don't understand what the skills or experience means. They have no way of validating any of the claims, and unless they have built in church or a departmental sports team, fit is unlikely to be ascertaintained with any accuracy. HR recruiter screening is age, gender, ethnicity, and buzzword count. I got pipped to the post for a client server database developer once because the other candidate claimed to be an ADO expert. The guy who assessed us didn't even know what ADO was, never mind the fact thats like chosing an author based on how good he is with a pencil sharpener....

lovingNJ
lovingNJ

What should I put in online applications that REQUIRE a current salary and/or expected salary to be entered?

web_woman
web_woman

Wondering why many positions do not post salary range, especially if they are going to require that the applicant state their desired salary. If the position is worth a certain salary, than post that range. It should be easy to eliminate the people who think they are worth more than they are just by the job requirements. It is likely a trade off in number of applicants for if the salary is too low, many will not bother to apply. This is particularly an issue when one works in a field that is somewhat undefined with regards to salary (ex. Project Management, Business Analyst).

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

on whether you want to have a chance at being considered or not. There are plenty of sites that will give you an average salary for a role in an area, use that, if you have nothing else. Or look for similar jobs in the same area (or at least same level of affluence) where the advertiser mentions range. If you are earning now, then it's the same or more. Bear in asking for current salary, is either a way of paying you less than a job with more value should give you, or an inaccurate measurement of your value based on what someone else needs. I treat all requests for it with extreme suspicion. If I think I should be paod more than I am now for the job, they best offer more, or they can find some booger else. If the right job came up I could easily be worth four times what I'm on now based on some of my less upto date skills.

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

I am in agreement with you that the salary question is only used for screening. My Kung Fu Interview Answer to this Salary Question is: "I sign a non-disclosure agreement with all of my clients which covers salary. I would need a letter signed and notarized letter from your organization's legal department stating they would represent me in any lawsuit brought by former clients for divulging that information. I am quite sure that your organization has a policy stating that individual compensation cannot be discussed with other employees. And I am equally sure that you would take action on anyone breaking your policy. So exactly what purpose do you have for asking me to break your organization's policy prior to my accepting a position with your organization?" Shut up. Sit Back. And watch the realization dawn on clueless interviewer's face that their kung fu is not strong.... (I just had to use that somewhere today! haha)

Hobbesl
Hobbesl

I recently got a terrific answer to this question from Liz Ryan (asklizryan.com): In every field asking for salary, enter your target salary. In the first available comment box, write that all salary figures provided reflect my current salary target. I would also consider adding that the figure is negotiable.

xdshen
xdshen

Are you authorized to hire? or just a stinky scalper?

RayJeff
RayJeff

Yes...that's something we ALL would like to know.

gwhaler
gwhaler

Why do you ask such vague/leading questions? Why not come directly to the point if there IS one?The TRuTH will set you free!

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

1). What is the significance of running a credit check as part of the background screening? Obviously, this is in relation to the recent discussion thread. http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/career/?p=1655&tag=content;leftCol 2). Given that there seems to be an overabundance of talent, what is/are the most important factor/s to distinguish one candidate from another (we've hashed through this as IT staffers and IT hiring managers, but to hear it from a HR rep may be helpful to those in the TR community looking for work) 3). Why are so many firms so hesitant in creating & enforcing PC/Internet use policies? 4). I'd be curious to see what the HR person's take is on the 'Not Enough Females in IT' discussion. I could probably list a few more, but I'll stop there for now. Thanks!

ajayit08
ajayit08

WHAT KIND OF INFORMATION ABOUT US MUST BE TOLD AND MUST NOT BE TOLD WHILE ANSWERING "TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF"?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

CAPS LOCK is on the left hand side. Depends on who's asking and what they are after, obviously.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

How much emphasis do the HR people put on past successful projects (with / without references) over a bunch of Certification letters gained?

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

Please ask about the market for XML skills; like XSLT, XQuery and XML Schema. This is in reference to data mapping. Thank you.

joelrstevens
joelrstevens

Here is an idea. What are there entry level positions I may pursue that may rely more on background in retail and customer service, that I can combine my A+, Network+, and MCTS certification where my experience lack of technical experience is not such a hinderance?

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

have a look there.

RayJeff
RayJeff

I've gotten several calls for POS contract work; doing installs as part as a national rollout.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Domain experience is very valuable in IT. As a for instance you could couple your retail, experience and your technical knowledge in customer support, direct, documentation, help systems... IT is the practical appplication of theory, experience helps you do that, but you still have to learn where and when, and that's the domain. Think about your old job, and where the technical knowledge would have helped you do it better. Sell that.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

How you get five years experience in VS2008, why alphabet soup is so important. Not to mention is it important I'll take 20k or have twenty years experience?

joelrstevens
joelrstevens

I have noticed that there is more of entry level trend toward programming than network administration. Is this a route I should be looking at more closely? What would you recomend after I have earned all of the certifications I am currently pursuing?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

If you don't, don't bother. There's no money in it on a regular basis, the trend is to treat us as glorified clerks, and the outsourcing stupidity, means you haven't got a level playing field. Without other compensations (I program as a hobby), it isn't worth it. If you do like it, then you need to start doing it. Contribute to open source, voluntary work, freeware, shareware. It gives you something real to show a prospective employer, and development is such a braod and fuzzy discipline, the only real way to learn it, is to do it. You'd be better off talking to students who've made that jump into the workplace recently. If I was allowed to employ a junior programmer, they key thing I'd be looking for would be enthusiasm for the discipline itself. Programmers program, they can't help themselves, others write code when forced to.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

is mind-numbingly boring even for me, and I can spend hours discussing the merits of various indentation styles. :p If it was paying well compared to other IT roles I could see the point, but that's pretty rare at the moment, except for people at the top of the tree, skill and or experience wise. Getting paid something for doing what you enjoy is great, getting paid 'nothing' for doing something you don't, is f'ing dumb.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

I done a bit of programming a few years back and I fell in to the latter category. Found it was not for me so I moved into the networking / IT systems field which was. Depends on what you like doing.

joelrstevens
joelrstevens

Toni, My name is Joel. I have been unemployed for over 12 months. My previous positions have been in the fields of retail and customer service, with three out of ten years bieng employed in the wireless retail sales. I am currently pursuing certification in A+, Network+, and MCTS. Most of the jobs I have come across along the career path I am looking at requires maybe 1 to 2 years of experience (or more) I currently do not have. If these are "entry-level" positions then why the emphasis on experience? Any advice on how to overcome this obstacle?

nzbcfanboi
nzbcfanboi

Yes I thought "entry level" was a position that's your "entrance" into the industry if you need experience you already have entered the industry

rwagoner
rwagoner

Joel you said that you are pursuing A+ certification (among others) and I think as soon as you have that, update your resume and post it to Dice, Monster, Craigslist, etc. Next, do some networking. Not IT networking, get out there and talk to people in user groups, meet ups, etc. I think 60-70% of openings are filled by recommendations from friends. Third, do volunteer or open source work. If you were in my town (Portland, OR) I'd say to volunteer at a linux user group to balance out your windows experience. Don't ignore scripting/programming, as if you have A+, networking and scripting you'll be very employable. If you have any questions I am happy to help. rwagoner at volt dot com

DeVryGuy1960
DeVryGuy1960

I have been searching for jobs in the IT industry for several years, even when I am employed (as I have been most of the time), I continue to maintain my networking and searching for better positions that will fit my personal situation. I find that it's much more about having a good combination of skills training and hands on experience rather than just one or the other. Jobs are relatively easy to come by (easier said than done in these times), but a good career is a real rarity that matches an individual with his or her desires, talents, and abilities. Since my retirement from the military, I have held three different positions (in 4 years) Two were for short duration (2 - 5 months) while the last has been 3 years and counting. While I am undecided about continuing on my current career pathway, I am continuing my education (MS in Network and Communications Management) and gaining additional knowledge through sites such as this. As in real estate, their motto is location, location, location, whereas the IT field tends to be more fluid. Technology is constantly changing and those that wish to remain marketable, MUST make the efforts to not only become educated, but remain educated about their specific duties.

TheEvilAdmin
TheEvilAdmin

Because they can. there are so many people out of work that companies are able to require more specific stats for a job than before. Any company wants the best talent they can find that fits/accepts the pay they are offering for a position. Logically if you can get someone with 2 years of experience who step into a position and and not pay them more than you would for someone who had no experience the company will most likly hire the first. The IT industry has become very much ability based and experience proves ability.

joelrstevens
joelrstevens

But there is a gigantic catch 22 there that almost seems counterproductive. What would be the best advice for someone such as myself who has very little to no IT experience? Choosing another field and giving up is not an option for me. What is the BEST way to position myself to where my lack of experince does not make as big of an impact.

GSG
GSG

I started out with a degree in Business, specifically in Records Management. I went to work in a Medical Records department, where everything was still in paper form (20 years ago). I also had used a lot of computers in college, and had a small interest. We started automating, and I took responsibility for training the rest of the department, which increased my computer skills. Meanwhile, I started taking classes in Medical Terminology, Anatomy and Physiology, Pathophysiology and Disease Processes, and basically some of the courses that Nursing Students would take, so that I would have a basic understanding of some of the clinical information. Then, we started becoming more and more computerized and I took over more training for the hospital on our systems. Eventually, I moved into IT as a low-level trainer, application analyst. The system admin was lazy and didn't do any maintenance so my system kept crashing. I worked with the vendor and got a really cool guy that explained a lot to me. I nagged until I got admin access and all of the manuals and taught myself the back end. Then, after being told I was too stupid to be in IT and that women didn't belong there, I taught myself enough basics on Windows 95, NT 4.0, Servers, that I was able to do Y2K upgrades on 20 of my servers, and over 150 workstations. Shortly after I got my MCP, and then changed jobs to another hospital. Since then, my focus has changed from the down and dirty technical to Project Management, Integration (HL7 Interfaces), and, to HIPAA Security (which is not fun at all). We're a small facility, so no one in IT can specialize in one area, which the exception of our network engineer, and he even takes over project management if we're in a bind. We'll take a person into our department who has a strong technical background but no healthcare experience, but they have to be really exceptional in an area that we have a hard time filling. It's almost impossible to find a good DBA with healthcare experience. I'd say that you need to familiarize yourself with HIPAA, JCAHO, HITECH, and ARRA. If you can at least say that you're familiar with some of that, it will help.

GSG
GSG

Healthcare staff get outsourced all the time. We call them "Rent-a-Nurses" or "Rent-a-Docs", etc... Patient Census fluxuates, so you try to carry as few nurses, LPNs, and other professionals as possible. If your census suddenly jumps, you call the agency and they send a few nurses over. Unless you are a Pharmacists, Physical therapist, Occupational Therapist, Nurse Anesthetist, medical professionals don't make that much, especially nurses. A lot of nurses are going back to school for IT degrees. That's where the IT jobs are in healthcare. IT Nurses are in high demand because we have to purchase these clinical systems and we need clinical people to build the workflows, forms, tables, etc... We handle the technical end, but they handle the clinical end.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

I work in healthcare IT (about to get out) and I've tried to get into better paying positions at bigger hospitals. I get the interviews but the big institutions have large, highly competitive IT teams with alot of people vying for the next promotion. These places rarely hire from without unless it's at the bottom-of-the-rung like a break/fix PC technician. The reason for this is that many hospitals have very specialized IT systems and they want people who are already somewhat trained in their policies and procedures. I've had three interviews at hospitals and even though I've done well on all of them and I have a healthcare IT background, they don't care.

RayJeff
RayJeff

GSG... How did you get into Healthcare IT? Which did you have first; an IT background or an Healthcare background? This is a very important question that needs an answer. I've applied for at least healthcare IT positions within the past 2+ years. They have either been system analyst or HIM/Health Informatics positions and have never been successful. The job descriptions read as the typical IT technical support (desktop, systems, operations) position or system analyst/programmer position. But then, the last part of the job description comes with having the healthcare part; to be a nurse, and usually PREFERABLY to be an RN. My issue is that personally, I think job descriptions such as this is asking for the impossible. The reason why is that they want the person with the IT experience to have at least 3-5 years, which I have much more than that minimum. Most IT workers have at least that much time in. But..to be able to find a nurse with 3-5 years of IT experience, much less 1 year of IT experience is going to be really impossible. And I say that because of the specific IT experience in the descriptions they are looking for. The positions look for someone with programming experience, various operating systems experience, non-healthcare database development experience. I don't think that it would be difficult for an IT person with no healthcare experience to go into those positions. I had an interview for a data coordinator position at a community medical clinic. And during the interview, the actual technical part wasn't so much the emphasis as the customer service part was. And I expect that to be true of healthcare IT in general. SO, my question to the HR recruiter would be to why in healthcare IT, why are the job descriptions as for the unreasonable.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

LOL! I wouldn't be that foolish. When people see IT all they see is cost.

GSG
GSG

"The pay is solid and they can't outsource you." You're funny. You made a joke! I work in healthcare IT. We make less than most of the IT industry, and they can, and do, outsource you, usually with consultants. With the recent economic issues, we also got downsized and lost 25% of our IT department, and got our hours cut, while still having to maintain the same level of service. You are on call 24 x 7 whether you get on call pay or not, because the patients don't stop needing care. If you screw up a system in retail, the business loses some money. If you screw up a system in Healthcare, you could be killing someone. The amount of non-IT training you have to go through is ridiculous. You have to know all about insurance and billing (if you're working a business system), have to know all sorts of clinical info (if you're working a clinical system), you have to be an expert in all the rules and regulations (JCAHO, HIPAA, etc...), have to get yelled at by providers who don't like to follow the rules, and in short it's a thankless job. And if you have a weak stomach, it's not for you, because you're going to have to suit up and scrub at some point and go fix some equipment in the middle of a surgery. Nothing like seeing a surgeon lift someone's lung out of their chest and lay it to the side while you're trying to fix their intra-operative charting computer. If you want to work in Healthcare IT, you're not doing it for the money, you're doing it because you really like working in IT, and you really like working in the Healthcare industry. Earlier today, I was wishing I didn't work in healthcare, but, this afternoon, I'm back to "normal".

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

"Computers" are no longer the hot field to be in. It's a "career" of perpetual unemployment. We aren't treated as rockstars anymore. We aren't paid above average salaries anymore. Those days are long gone. Because of the dotcom and Y2K booms, the market is flooded with cheap talent. On top of that we have an asian invasion of H1 and L1 visa applicants that are willing to undercut home-grown talent by more than 50%. Get out of IT when you can. There's no room for you outside of the unemployment line. With Obama trying to create a healthcare boom to match Bush's housing boom and Clinton's dot com boom, you should try to get into healthcare. The pay is solid and they can't outsource you.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

however I done that while still studying for my degree. That way when I left I had a degree and three years experience (1 year of which was a work placement as part of the 5 year honours degree) I called it forward planning.

generaltso
generaltso

Best advice - take a job doing IT shift work. Could be a helpdesk, data center support or something else. You'll probably hate the work, hate the hours, hate the pay and love that it gets you that experience.