Free IT Training!

Posted: November 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: IT Industry, News, Resources, Tips and Advice, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Looking to learn more about Mobile Web Development? Maybe you would like to see if your development skills would be better put to use as a Salesforce Application Developer? We have a place for you: http://www.udacity.com

Udacity.com offers FREE, college level technical courses that you are free to go through at your own pace. Whether you are just beginning your career in IT, or perhaps you are looking for a new path, Udacity.com might be able to give you a better idea of what is out there.


Quick Resume Refresh Tips

Posted: October 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Tips and Advice | No Comments »

If it’s been a while since you’ve hunted for a job, your resume probably needs an update. Here are some things you can do to update it quickly and effectively.

Research your target job. Doing this can clue you in to keywords and phrases that should be included somewhere on your resume. Review as many job descriptions and postings as you can to get an idea of the hard and soft skills employers are looking for. Then make sure to highlight those skills on your resume. Don’t lie, but if you have the skill, include it!

Focus on your achievements. Be sure to state the detailed results of your job performance. You might include duties as well, but make sure you highlight how you achieve results. This will show employers that you’re valuable to your company.

Fill in the gaps. If you’re not currently working, take on side projects or work part time in your field. Find some way to gain relevant experience and fill in the employment gaps. If you need more help filling in the gaps, check out our previous blog article on filling in those pesky resume gaps.

Proofread. Clean things up and check out your formatting on more than one computer. Have a few friends check it for errors and phrasing. If you know anyone who is a hiring manager or a recruiter, have them take a look as well. You can also email it to Astra at hr@astra-solutions.com and we’ll take a look at it for you.

Make sure you include all your recent and relevant experience, and do a Google search for great resume examples for your field.

If you’re looking for an IT job in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, or Houston, contact us at 918-747-8600 or visit our jobs page to view and apply for openings. 


How to cast your line for jobs

Posted: September 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: IT Industry, Tips and Advice | No Comments »

If you’re a new graduate, you’ve surely been networking your heart out to find job openings that fit your skills. You have, haven’t you? If you’re about to graduate or if you’ve just accomplished that goal, it’s time to put those feelers out.

When to begin? Now.

If you know what you want to do with your life, this part will be easy. If you’re like most new graduates, you’re really not sure. It will take some extra research on your part, but for those who are unsure of what move to make, casting your line is a great place to start.

How do I cast my line?

Start with who you know. Make a phone call or send an email to people you know who work in the field in which you want to work. Or even people who have interesting jobs for which you might be qualified. Ask them about openings their company has or how you can get your foot in the door.

Work with a staffing agency. Yes, we’re biased, but there’s a reason for that. Working with a staffing agency, especially one that specializes in your field, can help you get your foot in the door at some of the greatest companies, both large and small. Astra specializes in IT staffing, so if you’re in the IT field, we definitely want to talk with you. Call us at 918-747-8600 or email your resume to hr@astra-solutions.com.

Google it. Search for companies that you might want to work for and send them an introductory email. Let them know you’re interested in the field and send them your resume. Try to reach the HR manager or the owner, if it’s a small company. Be professional and polite, and highlight your best skills and accomplishments in your introductory email or phone call.

What’s next?

Follow up, if needed. If not, keep casting. You’re bound to catch a big one sooner or later, if you’ll pardon the cheesy fishing reference.

 

 


Contract Jobs on Your Resume – Tips for Displaying Them in the Best Possible Light

Posted: September 6th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Contracting is becoming more and more common in the IT world, and most employers aren’t surprised to see contract jobs on a potential candidates resume. However, the way those jobs are displayed on a resume can make or break a candidate’s chances of scoring an interview. We’d like to offer some tips to put those contracting jobs in the best possible light on your resume.

Keep it chronological. Most employers are going to scan dates on your resume before they do anything else. They want to see if you’re a job-hopper, if there are any large gaps, and try to identify whether or not you remained in the same field. Maintaining a chronological order to your work history with clearly displayed start/end dates is important for ensuring your resume doesn’t get passed over.

Be mindful of lumping. If you worked several short-term contract jobs for one staffing firm, you might be tempted to lump them together. This will work if those positions are in chronological order. However, if there were gaps in between or if you worked for a different agency, you might consider doing a strictly chronological resume to keep things in order. When in doubt, order things chronologically.

Watch the placement. If you held one full or part time position while also working temporary jobs, also consider this job’s position on your resume. If your full or part time job is related to the field and helpful in landing you a desired position, place it above the contract jobs. If your full or part time job is not related or could be detrimental to landing the desired position, put that job under your relevant contract work, as long as it maintains the ever-important chronological order.

Note the nature of the work. Including a small note, such as “6 month contract” under a job can clue employers in to the type of position your held. You might do something like the following:

Software Developer | XYZ Client for Astra Solutions | Tulsa, OK | Jan 2012 – July 2012 (6 month contract)

Also keep in mind that the 1-page rule does not necessarily apply, especially when you have a lot of skills and experience. Just keep things as brief as possible, but don’t leave off important jobs just to keep your resume on one page!

If you’re ever unsure of how to list work on your resume, we’re happy to take a look and offer suggestions. Just give us a call at 918-747-8600 or email your resume and questions to hr@astra-solutions.com.

Check out our full list of open IT jobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Bartlesville.

 


How to Ace a Phone Interview

Posted: August 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Many large employers use a phone screen to get a feel for a candidate before they bring them in for a face-to-face interview. A phone interview can be tricky because you can’t be seen. We’d like to share a few tips for nailing the phone interview and ensuring you get that face-to-face meeting.

1. Use a land line. Cell phones, as awesome as they are, still drop calls and can still have fuzzy reception. Use a land line, preferably with a corded phone, for your phone screen.

2. Gather materials. Print out a copy of your resume and the job description so they’re right in front of you. Make a list of questions or items you’d like to cover during the interview and have that nearby. Choose a location near to a computer, so you can open the company’s website and any relevant web pages before the interview. Just don’t go browsing the web during the call! Be sure if you are going to use your computer during the call that the interviewer can’t hear your typing, unless they specifically ask you to look up something.

3. Prepare for the phone interview as if it were a face-to-face interview. Even though the employer can’t see you, they will know if you are not prepared. Prepare for the typical interview questions and prepare your own questions for the company.

4. Stay focused and avoid distractions. Make sure your surroundings are quiet, there are no children or pets to distract you, and the TV is turned off if you’re at home. Allow at least an hour for the phone interview and make people aware that you will be unavailable during that time. Listen intently to help keep yourself focused, and take notes with a pen and paper (no typing!) during the interview in case you need to reference something someone said.

5. Be aware of body language. Smile while you talk, and use your hands as if the interviewer can see you. Your language will be more expressive if you speak as if the employer is in the room.

6. No eating or drinking! It seems obvious, but some people can’t help but sip coffee while they’re on the phone. Don’t do this because the employer will hear it. Keep a glass of water (no ice) nearby in case you need it, but try to use mute when you sip. Keep it quiet. And for goodness’ sake, don’t chew gum!

7. Answer the phone with “This is _______.” And smile when you say it. This simple gesture will help you get off to a great start. The interviewer won’t need to ask for you, and the conversation can start immediately.

8. Be patient. Interviewers need to write down your responses after you give them, so allow for some silences and don’t be worried when they happen.

Astra Solutions matches IT professionals with IT jobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Houston. Click here for more information and to apply for open IT jobs.

If you have IT positions to fill and would like to talk with us about how we can help, please call us at             918-747-8600.


The Importance of Employer Communication

Posted: August 8th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: For Businesses, Tips and Advice | No Comments »

In today’s incredibly competitive IT job market, it is crucial for employers to stay on top of their IT staffing needs. Doing so ensures that projects are completed on time and that current employees aren’t overloaded (and therefore less productive). Staying on top of staffing needs means more than just having recruiters source for open positions. It means connecting regularly with your recruiters to make sure good candidates are contacted early and often.

Good candidates are already hard to find, and making them wait for weeks or months to find out if they are even being considered for a position can be discouraging to them. Some candidates will move on to accept other positions because it can be frustrating to play the waiting game. In a competitive job market, high-quality candidates are often talking with more than one company. If they are coming off a contract, they are probably looking to start a new position fairly quickly. The longer you wait to schedule an interview with a good candidate, the better the chance that they have moved on.

As recruiters, we constantly maintain contact with our candidates, and those who have been submitted for open jobs are often anxious to hear back from us. Good communication is important for maintaining candidate relationships, and we rely on our clients to provide timely and useful feedback. To stay on top of your staffing needs, remember to keep the lines of communication open for potential candidates. You never know who you might miss.

Astra Solutions matches IT professionals with IT jobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Houston. Click here for more information and to apply for open IT jobs.

If you have IT positions to fill and would like to talk with us about how we can help, please call us at 918-747-8600.


Women in IT

Posted: July 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: IT Industry, Tips and Advice | No Comments »

It’s no secret that men outnumber women in Information Technology, and the number of women is still decreasing. For reasons yet unknown, fewer women are interested in computer science and management information systems degrees. As a woman and an IT professional, I see opportunity. Industry analysts believe that IT will become less about technical ability and more about delivering customer satisfaction and solving complex problems. Good communication skills and relationship building are often associated with women, according to Mary Lou Roberts. For women who are considering a career change or those who want to add skills to their resumes, this is where the opportunity lies.

There are several ways to build these soft skills and position yourself for a job in IT.

Write (more). If you’re already writing, write more. If you don’t write, learn to. Fortunately, there are several powerful and free tools to help you accomplish this. WordPress.com is a free blogging platform that can serve as a stage for your thoughts on a variety of subjects. Start by blogging about what you know, but keep the theme of your blog focused and meaningful. Write for your audience. Write often, and don’t neglect it. Set reminders on your phone and calendar to keep you on track. Writing publicly is a great way to show your expertise on a subject and help you learn and grow professionally. You may even meet new people, which is where our next point comes in…

Network. Networking may sound like a lot of work, but each time you talk to someone new, you are building your communication and relationship skills. Go to local MeetUps, Chamber of Commerce breakfasts, and group meetings for professionals that have similar skills (such as web development, project management, or SQL Server). Meeting new people can lead to many positive things, not the least of which is a job in IT.

Take a class or get a certification. Education is never a bad thing, and learning something new only makes you more marketable. Industry certifications like the CCNA, PMP, or MCITP look great on a resume and are even required for some IT jobs. Up your competitive level by holding acertification in your desired field.

Utilize your current job. Take on new and challenging projects to build your problem-solving skills. Initiative and a proactive attitude can impress managers and coworkers, and extra projects give you more opportunity for anecdotal evidence of your problem-solving abilities.

Learn how to negotiate. In a country where women are still paid unfairly, it is important to learn to bargain and to stand your ground effectively. A recent story on Forbes reveals that only 26% of women are comfortable negotiating, compared to 40% of men. Check out the article for tips and advice on negotiating.

In a field dominated by men, women can set themselves up for success. Be positive, learn to negotiate, network, and build those soft skills. Women have the opportunity to fill a unique need in the IT world, but we must step out of our comfort zone to do so.

Astra Solutions matches IT professionals with IT jobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Houston. Click here for more information and to apply for open IT jobs.


Choosing a New Career Path – Transitioning into IT

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Tips and Advice | No Comments »

With all the economic upheaval going on right now, it’s no surprise that many people are changing careers. Here at Astra, we’ve gotten several calls recently from people who are looking to make a career change to IT. While the answer to the “How do I do it?” question is not the same for everyone, there are a few things just about anyone can do to transition to a career in IT. We’d like to offer some tips to those of you who are looking to make the switch.

Consider your motivation. Is it money? Is it learning something new? Have you always been interested in IT but never pursued it? Thinking about your motivation can save you a headache in the long run. For example, if money is your only motivation, simply changing careers will probably not be satisfying. This is especially true if your IT skills are very new, because you could end up taking a significant pay cut to break into IT at the entry level. You must consider whether or not a career change will truly help you overcome your dissatisfaction with your current career.

Expect difficulties. For someone with minor IT experience and a small amount of technical experience, transitioning may not be so complicated. For a person who has worked in healthcare, management, or finance, and who has little to no technical knowledge, it may be hard to find a job. Go into your transition expecting that it won’t be smooth sailing. You may be required to get another degree, certificate, or professional certification. You may even wait to quit your current job until you’ve adequately ramped up your skills, which we will discuss next…

Assess your skills. This is an important part of transitioning. As you are trying to decide what area of IT to pursue, read job descriptions and make a list of skills you think you might need in order to land the job you want. You might start with jobs that require a few skills that you already have, such as MS Word experience or system administration. Read through as many job descriptions as you can to determine what you need to know. Consider certifications as well. Many recruiters won’t even consider you for a position until you have the correct certification or degree.

Network, network, network. As with any job search, networking with professionals in your desired industry is key. Many people leave out this step and wonder why they can’t find work. Go to Chamber of Commerce events, join local networking and professional groups, and even try MeetUp to find people in your area. Don’t underestimate the power of networking. These people can help you figure out what you need to learn to get the job you want.

If your heart is set on transitioning to IT, don’t get discouraged. It can take time, patience, and a lot of learning to get where you want to be. But IT is a highly technical and rewarding field. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, expect delays and difficulties, and build your skills to match the dream jobs you find. Last, but certainly not least, get out there and talk to everyone.

Astra Solutions matches IT professionals with IT jobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Houston. Click here for more information and to apply for open IT jobs.

 


Technology Certifications – What Employers Want Most

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Tips and Advice | No Comments »

There are a wide range of IT certifications available, but some are more commonly required than others. WANTED Analytics recently listed the most common certifications required by IT employers. You can see the list here.

High on the list are PMP (Project Management Professional), CCNA (Cisco Network Associate), and MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer). Many jobs that Astra is asked to help fill require these certifications, and having certifications in your field only makes you more competitive in the job market. Keep an eye on lists like this one and stay on top of the most requested certifications.

Astra Solutions specializes in matching IT professionals with the right job for them. Click here to see our IT jobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Houston. 


Dig Up the Dirt Before Employers Do

Posted: June 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Tips and Advice | No Comments »

You may have every social network set to the highest standard of privacy, and you may have done all you can to manage your online reputation, but there could be skeletons lurking in your virtual closet, just waiting to be found by potential employers. So how do you find out what’s out there? Here are some quick tips for finding the dirt before your potential employer goes hunting.

The first tip is simple, and it’s one we’ve suggested in a previous blog post:

Google yourself. But go beyond Google and check out Bing, Yahoo!, and even Dogpile to see what comes up everywhere. Look beyond the first page. In fact, go 10 pages or more in because you never know how far a potential employer will go. Don’t just search for your name, either. Use nicknames, current and past addresses, and phone numbers. Look up usernames and profile names you’ve used in the past. Do an image search and see if any images are connected to your information.

Past Employer Reference Checks. Call past employers and find out what kind of reviews they’re giving you. Find out what, if any, of your past information they are providing, including supervisor names, positions worked, and the reason you left.

Check Facebook and Twitter. Make sure any questionable photos or information is protected by privacy settings or deleted. Have a friend or three view your accounts from their perspective, and have them make a list of anything incriminating or distasteful.

Background checks. Unsure if that party arrest from college is still hanging over your head? Find the court records website for your state and search for your name. You never know what might pop up. Even judgments for past due bills can pop up. You need to know about it so you can explain the situation in case an employer brings it up. Some states charge for this, so depending on your personal history, the cost may or may not be worth it. If you’re in Oklahoma, check OSCN for court records.

Be mindful of your internet presence, and know your history so you can be prepared if an employer asks you about it. It may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how people forget about tiny violations or that crazy party where several drunken photos were taken.

Looking for a job? Astra Solutions can help. Check out our IT jobs page for the latestIT jobs in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.