We asked tech recruiters and human resource managers for suggestions on how job seekers can play to win. The next time you're in the hiring game, take these tips from the other side.

By Megan Fleming | May 2006

The e-mails and phone calls. The waiting and wondering. The acceptance or the denial. Even though they're on different sides of the hiring game, employers and candidates face the same challenges. And it'¿s high stakes for everyone. Employers have to fill jobs to maintain company productivity, and candidates have their career and livelihood on the line.

To get the inside line for job seekers on Dice, we asked tech recruiters and human resource managers for suggestions on how job seekers can play to win. The next time you're in the hiring game, take these tips from the other side.

Post Your Resume

Newspapers are still cranking out classifieds but, as you already know, most employers are online. "The response to print ads is not very good any more," says Dawn Dreyer, a contract recruiter for L3 Photonics. "Data mining is the way to go; it's the way I find most of my candidates."

Dreyer and most other employers use two online processes to find candidates - job posting and database searches. Most start with a key word search of the Dice candidate database. Key words are usually skill sets or program names like PeopleSoft or C++. Employers often include specific industries, educational level, cities or regions, citizenship requirements, and security clearance. Recruiters use the same key words to create search agents that regularly scan the Dice database for new candidates with certain skill sets.

To be part of the process, you must be in the database. "I would recommend that job seekers post resumes on Dice because I think employers see the site as a great source," advises Debbie Chadbourn, human resource specialist at Chickasaw Nation Industries Technology Division. "If you're really interested in an IT position, Dice is the first place you should go."

Maximize matches to the most appropriate job opportunities on Dice by highlighting all of your skills in your Dice profile, and clearly defining your technical talents in a technical summary at the top of your resume.

Stay Up to Date

Resumes and profiles shouldn¿t be static. As you grow professionally, so should your online presence. Each time you learn a new program or process, add it to your resume and your online profile. "Update your resume as often as you can stand to do it," advises Gina Padilla, director of business development at Sharf, Woodward & Associates, Inc., a tech recruiting company in California. When you do, you'll increase your chances of attracting opportunities that match your current interests and abilities.

Build Your Network

Many tech candidates work with networks everyday, but they don't know the power of professional networks. They should. Employers say that networking - virtual or in-person - is one of the main ways they find qualified candidates. When recruiters and human resource managers have technical positions to fill, they often check their own personal network first.

These connections come from work associates, previous candidate searches on job boards like Dice, professional organizations, and personal referrals. "We build a network and meet people that way. Even if we don't have a particular position at that moment," says Lou Schwartz, vice president professional services at Conversion Services International (CSI), a company offering solutions for business intelligence and data warehouse space. "We are constantly looking to see who's good and who we want to talk to, know, or add to our staff for the future." Build your own network and link to others by posting your resume on Dice, joining professional organizations, and attending industry conferences.

Respond to Recruiters

You've probably heard from your share of recruiters. While it takes time now to field recruiters' calls and e-mails, your prompt, professional reply will pay off in the long run. Because they talk with hiring managers every day, recruiters are dialed in to the market. They know who's hiring and what skills are in demand. By establishing a relationship with a few trusted recruiters now, you'll have your own resource to turn to when you¿re ready for a new job. "I have a long-term vision of recruiting," explains Padilla. "I don't just look for people who are looking for a job right now.... If you get an e-mail from a recruiter - respond. You don't have to go much past that. Keep your finger on the pulse."

Improve Your Skills

The tech world moves quickly and you need to move with it. The skills you learned in school, at your last job, or even last month serve as your foundation; but to move ahead and be an attractive job candidate, you need to keep your skills fresh. Take cues on the newest technologies and what to know now, from your current employer, industry publications, and co-workers. "I think it's important to stay knowledgeable about the industry," says Padilla. "Hone your skill based on what you learn about the industry. Read trade magazines. Stay active in your organizations like IEEE, and pay attention to what¿s new, then get those technical skills. Keep learning and keep improving."

Megan Fleming is a freelance writer who lives in New Mexico.