How to get a Linux Job in 30 days or less!!!

First of all let me state that I am not a recruiter, job search expert or in any way in the field of Human Relations.  What follows is information I use and if you try these I can make no guarantee about your chances of success.  All I now is that they work for me.  They should work for you but everyone will need to figure out how to tweak them for their own career path.

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Photo Taken by Nanagyei

Over the last thirty days I have received no less than two phone calls every business day and over 120 E-mails about jobs.  Are they all great quality contacts?  Nope, about 60% of them I deleted right away.  They were either situations or positions I was not qualified for,  things that don’t use my talents, or things I was not interested in doing.  The next 20% required me to relocate to where the job was, which is something I cannot presently do.  So that leaves me with 20% of the people contacting me with viable jobs within North-East Ohio.  I then add to that the companies I actively want to work for or jobs I thought would be great that I applied for directly without someone contacting me.

I have done basically the same things I list here for most of my career.  Even when I was a consultant, I applied the same rules and techniques with similar results.  When I was consulting I generally had 30 day notice clauses for ending my employment.  The contracts I did running less than 3 months generally wouldn’t accept that clause but some of them did.  The only exception was an 18 month period right after the .com bubble burst.  I picked up random odd jobs that kept my head above water but at times I had to wait more than 30 days for things to work out.  What I have below is an example of what I have done for the last 6 weeks.

On December 15, 2012 at 10:30 in the morning, I was summoned to the Presidents office for a meeting with him and my boss.  The company I worked for was small so I wouldn’t normally have thought twice about it if my boss hadn’t been acting strange when he asked me to come with him.  Within a few moments it was over.  Much like ripping off a band aide, I was unemployed.  Well, I would be as of December 28, 2012.  I can’t say I was surprised, but the details of why are a tail for another time.

So at this point what did I do?   I started making phone calls and sending text messages to everyone I had ever worked with.  Then I touched up my resume and updated it on Dice and Monster.  I did not post or make it searchable but more on that later.  I also logged into Linked-in and made sure my job history was updated.  Being two weeks before the end of year holidays and when most enterprise shops are down to skeleton crews, I knew there wasn’t much else to do.  So I put the problem as far out of my mind as my mind would allow and did my best to enjoy the holidays with my family.

First Tip:

I don’t ignore anyone who calls or writes me.  I respond to everyone with something.  When it’s something I am not qualified for I simply tell them so.  My most common request was for Java Developer positions.  While I can write Java code, it’s not something I excel at or something I am eager to get better at.  I like tuning Java systems, building out automated operational system deploys and developing overall infrastructure architectures.  It’s what I have worked hard to learn and hone as a skill.  It’s also something I know I need to keep up with or I will start to lose it.  So I politely tell them it’s not for me and that I will forward it on to my network of friends who might be interested, which I do.  This tip is important because the people that don’t send me automated messages will appreciate it and try to send me things more suited to my talents, which they normally do within the next couple of weeks.

January 1, 2013

This is when the real work began.  Until this point the only return calls or interest I received was from the hand full of friends whose companies had openings when I called them.  There was a lot of talk about giving me a job but at this time no contracts were signed or job offers on the table.  So, I acted like I had nothing and didn’t let myself think that they might work out.  This is something I have learned to do until I have a signed contract.  I do not stop looking for work.  

In December when I lost my job I updated my resume but didn’t make searchable.  This was done for a reason.  Now that everyone is back at work or will be in the morning, I want my resumes to be on the top of their list.  So I make them searchable.  Since it’s been activated within the last 24 hours it looks fresh and when they are sorting newest to oldest I will be on top.  The people combing Dice and Monster don’t want to look at two week old resume’s.  They want the hot fresh new ones.

Second Tip:

Update something about your resume every two weeks.  Seriously changing a single word is all it takes.  This is something simple that works because computers are basically dumb and only see a change as a change.  On Dice I actually have two almost identical resume’s stored and flip between them every two weeks.  This keeps my resume in peoples search streams which hopefully will improve my chances.  When I do this trick I see at least a 1 week spike in inquiries from it every update.

Ok, my resume is now out there, why are people going to see it?  I have been tweaking the look and feel of my resume for years.  I have been doing search engine optimizations on it during the whole time.  I try to keep up by adding new buzz words and limiting old ones.  For instance, on the latest ones I changed my comments about my VMWare experience to reference that I had cloud experience.  It adds a few words I need to get a few more hits.  The HR departments and headhunters looking for resume’s aren’t generally technical.  They have a list of requirements given to them and they start looking for people who meet those requirements.  

This is why I receive several emails almost daily telling me that someone thinks I should develop Java applications.  My resume is full of Java related technology like WebSphere, Tomcat, and various other applications.  It’s true I do have a lot of experience with Java.  The problem for them is that my experience is with pointing to the problems with the Java code and not actually fixing it.  I have more than once been forced to go find and point out where the problem with the code is.  But I am a dev/ops person, not a straight up developer.

I have been on both sides of the interview process.  Listening to how my team perceived candidates based solely on their resumes taught me to keep it all real but meaty.  If you did a deployment/roll-out for a technology say that.  But unless you then worked on it for years afterwards you will not be an expert, so don’t stretch the truth too far.  Remember that your resume is not the sales pitch to get you hired.  It has to get you past the HR person and whoever is filtering the resumes before the interview even begins.  

Third Tip:

Just like making your website searchable, having the proper keywords in your resume is extremely important to the quantity and quality of inquires you will receive.  If you want to move towards a specific area, focus on increasing the buzz words in that area of your resume.  Figure out which jobs you enjoyed most and if it was working with a specific technology.  Focus on adding as many of those keywords as you can.  Also, make sure that the sentences all read properly.  Your goal is not to scam the people reading the resume and if you try that,  it will fail when they do the first interview.  In some companies, you will even get put on a do not call list of sorts for doing things like trying to mislead or scam them.  

So what’s next?  Normally, I start getting calls the first week.  Currently it takes about one to two  weeks to get an interview.  When I get turned down before the first interview, I try to write back and ask why I was not qualified for the position. I then either fix my resume to fill the missing area they were looking for if i have the experience.  If I don’t have the experience I try to focus on jobs that will let me get it.   If I feel I did have the specific kind of experience mentioned in the response I look at my resume and try to figure out why that didn’t come across properly.  I very often ask friends to look at those sections and tell me what they think it says about me.  Some of the best people for looking at these things are managers I  have worked for in the past.  As long as you aren’t annoying about it, I have generally found that people are willing to spend a half hour looking at your resume.  Normally they read a lot of resumes and can point out things that make them drop people.  These are all things that you can use as feedback and help you keep updating every two weeks.

Next time, I will write up how to handle doing technical and interpersonal interviews.  If you have any additional resume job seeking tips please share them here or on the forum.  I will do my best to help anyone who asks.  If I can’t answer it, I will find you someone who can. :)

Brian Wagner

Brian started working with *nix in while a student at Kent State University in the early 90's. In 1995, as an E-Mail Administrator for Caliber Technology (now part of Fedex) he was tasked with administering Sendmail on both Slackware Linux and Solaris Systems. His first home install of Linux was MkLinux DR1 in 1996 on his 60 Mhz PowerMac. Since then Brian has been working and consulting on Linux and it's uses in the Enterprise to support everything from E-Mail, Firewalls, Web and File serving to custom cluster solutions and grid solutions. Brian has had the opportunity to work in both Fortune 500 companies and small 2 person organizations. This has given him the unique insight into the differences every size business faces.