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IT Generalist job search tips?

By SusanG ·
Hi everyone-

This is my first post -- seems like a friendly and knowledgeable bunch here!

I've read some of the threads about PC/IT Generalists (aka Specialists) with interest, and I hope you can answer my questions or point me to some helpful resources.

I've been working with PCs since 1986 as a consultant or full-time employee. I've done whatever was called for with clients of all types, from individuals with no computer background to IT departments at large corporations. My full-time positions were both with small (15-20 emps.) software companies, and I wore several hats there and in my own consulting firm.

My skills include:
- Technical writing (tech and functional specs; print and online documentation including Help Authoring)
- Programming (VB and VBA, web scripting, Access and SQL Server db design and management)
- QA (Lead tester for a number of commercial apps for a software testing company)
- Technical Support (all Windows and MS Office versions, Help Authoring tools, most major wordprocessor, spreadsheet, database apps, etc.. I was the primary support contact for several major corporations)
- Training (lots of experience training Users, executives, college students)

I'm registered with a bunch of job search sites (Dice, HotJobs, Monster, CareerBuilder, some local sites, and others), and I do a lot of hunting on my own, but I'm having a hard time coming up with positions that are a good match, so I've been applying for things like Tech Writer, Programmer, QA, etc. individually instead of jobs requiring more of a generalist. Is there some magic search keyword or phrase I'm missing?

I'm also having a hard time finding recruiters, oddly enough, but I've just started with that. Last time I looked for a full-time position they were pretty easy to find, but it looks like things have changed, or again I'm just missing there. Are there any firms you can recommend I contact? I'm in Putnam, NY.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated!



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Matthew Moran offers great tips

by NI70 In reply to IT Generalist job search ...


Matthew Moran offers great tips in search of employment in IT. Here's a link to discussion forum where Matthew provides several links that are very infomitive and a good read.

I especailly liked Opening Doors As Quickly As Possible.

Hope this helps and good luck!

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Matthew Moran tips

by SusanG In reply to Matthew Moran offers grea ...

Thanks very much! I'll check those out now.


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You'll very rarely see generalist positions

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to IT Generalist job search ...

advertised. In IT the only generalist are those who foolishly took a degree in it.
You are multi-skilled not a generalist !
Not familiar with the american market, but to get hit's off recruitment sites in the UK you need acronyms and key words. They just do a text search on every resume they've got. They don't know what the letters stand for anyway. You come up as a hit and then they contact you to see if you can do the job.
Don't lie obviously but when doing the cv or filling in the criteia for candidate profile, don't put any constraints in. If it happens to pay peanuts and is on the other side of the country, you can say no. But if you put in location NY and they are searching for candidates in New York, you are stuffed.

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Pick a Specialty

by Wayne M. In reply to You'll very rarely see ge ...

I want to reinforce Tony's point and recommend that you continue looking at specific job titles.

When a company is advertising for a job, it has identified a specific criteria it is looking for. Companies do not tend to keep a backlog of generalists to fill in as needed, rather they hire as a specific need arises. Hence, no postings for generalists.

Create separate resumes emphasizing different target jobs. For example, do a QA resume that has 50% - 80% of the text covering QA responsibilities that you have held, tasks done, etc. Keep some of the remaining non-QA text as well to highlight some other skills that are not mentioned but may help differentiate you from the crowd. Create similar resumes for other job descriptions. This will serve for online searches. If you target a specific job at a particular company, create a specific resume. Read the job listing like Sherlock Holmes for any clues concerning things you can highlight in your resume. Likewise, go the company web-site and read up on the company and any similar job postings. This may sound like a lot of work, but if you really, really want the position, you need to go after it.

Target your resume to get you in the door to a new company. Once you are there, your generalist skills will begin to stand out.

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load up on key words and acronyms

by ITSecurityGuy In reply to You'll very rarely see ge ...

When submitting an electronic resume, one way to practice Tony's suggestion without making your resume look ugly or too long is to include a separate section of keywords. Then format it as white text on white background and set the font size to only 1 point.

That trick has enabled me to include a paragraph of keywords that might ordinarily take up a couple of column inches, but shrink it so it is only one line of text 1/72nd of an inch high and less than the length of a single line of text.

Of course this will only work when you know they will be searching the original electronic version, not a printed and scanned version.

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Elephant Bytes Inc

by Job Index In reply to IT Generalist job search ...

Contact Elephant Bytes.
Its a jersey based recruiting firm.
jobs @ elephantbytes . com

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Birds of a Feather

by ken.truell In reply to IT Generalist job search ...

I am in the same boat as you on this issue. I have followed the same steps as you have and are seeing the same results. It's unfortunate that in this "specialized" world we live in that the jack of all trades is not an entity unto itself. I will watch with interest to see if anyone posts a reply that benefits both of us.

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A one-person shop ?

by frwagne In reply to Birds of a Feather

Consider becoming a one-person IT shop for a smallish business. You'll have to do some personal networking to find these, but they are there. It got on through expertise in a database - small furniture mfr had customer database app built, they wanted to move from using consultants to having in -house expertise. I was expert consulant in midwest, visited the software's main office, ran their help desk for a day, they told me if I ever wanted to be placed, let them know. A few months later, I did, got the one-man IT shop job. Did the Database, AND Novell server, and ArcNet, and printer maintenance. Generalist paradise. So you do have to have some kind of specialty to get in the door, THEN you can be the generalist as a selling point. The question is, what are YOU better than most other people at doing ? Focus on that.

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by Tony Hopkinson In reply to A one-person shop ?

I put myself across as an integration specialist. Job before this one I got because of database design and building applications under VMS, Unix and Windows. Rarely do you see a job where they only want one skill. Most of the time in the UK the HR types usually ask for 5 years experience in about 20 of them and a young go get 'em attitude. Makes you want to reply with a URL to a dictionary site.

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IT Generalist. No one will admit to needing them.

by PaoloD In reply to IT Generalist job search ...

I currently work as a consultant for my former employer. I've been looking for a permanent position for a while now with little luck.

By my own admission, I'm not a specialist in anything except what I'm working on at the moment. Being adaptable and having a broad experience was very valued whilst inside a company, but I think companies don't want to admit needing them.

In my case, I would end up troubleshooting lots of problems even outside my "borders" because I had enough end to end systems knowledge to cut through the finger pointing and knowledge gaps.

I was brought back as a consultant on the same premise. They needed someone to "get things done" on a large EAM rollout. However, no one wants to say they need this capability on staff full time.

I personally agree that the place for people like me are one-person or small IT organizations. Although, I wotked for a very large company for almost twenty years, most of my time was spent in small teams which were outside the larger IT organization.

My dilemma now is how to market myself and find opportunities within a smaller organization. Recruiters will push the "laundry list" jobs because they are easier to fill. A company needing a generalist might not want to pay the recruiting fees. I guess I should scour the print ads.


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