Career coach: Helping you get the IT job you want

Most of us have long since broken our New-Year’s resolutions, but there may still be one that you have not yet acted on – sorting out your next career move.


For some, the next step will be about securing an internal promotion. For a majority, it is likely to involve looking outside your current organisation.

Whether you hope to be head hunted or whether you have to market yourself, it pays to understand the different kinds of recruitment processes at play for both IT Directors and IT managers.

A useful starting point is to sort out the differences between the various types of recruitment companies.

Executive search firms or “headhunters” as they are commonly known, are contracted by companies to exclusively find candidates that match a specific profile. They are also the sole route for direct and internal applications. Typically they will handle salary levels of £100,000 plus, with the majority of IT Director roles handled in this way.

If you are headhunted, look at the firm’s web site and always ask for details of the client and role before sending your CV. Most search firm’s web sites have details of their clients and testimonials, so this will give you an idea if they are credible

Some firms will offer a search capability as well as advertising the roles, commonly known as ‘selection’. IT Director roles appear regularly in The Sunday Times which has developed a virtual monopoly on print-based advertising since the advent of online media and Job Boards.

When replying to these firms, do the obvious. Ensure your covering letter clearly highlights your relevant experience to the role in question. Ignore this and your CV may get overlooked if there is a large response. You would be amazed how many highly talented and highly marketable individuals fall at this first hurdle.

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Alongside headhunters are recruitment (or contingency) agencies. These firms canvass for vacancies and then send CVs from a variety of sources to the company in question.

Agencies work on a non exclusive basis. These firms may handle middle management and non-managerial roles but are unlikely to be handling executive/Senior Management roles.

For an IT Director it would be a mistake to assume that just because a firm did a good job in recruiting your team that it will also be able to help you with your own career move. Many recruitment agencies do not have the executive level contacts or credibility to represent you effectively.

However agencies can provide be an excellent service for IT Managers looking for a new career challenge. Many of these firms post roles on job boards which have become an increasingly successful source for IT managers looking to move on. If possible ring the consultant to discuss the role before posting your CV. This way you can adapt your CV to the role in question.

As well as their extensive databases and posting on job boards (a trend that is growing exponentially), agencies may ring you direct as a result of recommendations from ex-colleagues or from having seen your name in an article.

If you are looking for an International role then it is worth contacting firms with overseas offices. By looking at web sites one can quickly determine how UK centric firms are. Some firms will be industry specific (financial services/retail/public sector etc) and the best way to find them is by a simple Google search.

Do not rely on one firm or consultant otherwise your job search will be limited to their network.

Always return phone calls from recruiters. Building a good relationship with a consultant enhances your chances of being contacted again. Even if the role or company is not right for you, it gives you an opportunity to mail your CV for future opportunities. Make recommendations of other potential candidates if the role is not right for you, as consultants will be appreciative and more likely to contact you in the future.

Attendance at conferences (particularly speaking engagements) and a brief biog on your company web site make you easier to find and more likely to receive “that call”.

Ensure that a career move or a promotion is mentioned in the press and keep recruiters informed.

In conclusion, if you are an IT Director, make it easy for search firms to find you by being visible. IT managers need take a proactive approach to registering your CV with quality firms. Finally, a co-operative attitude to search and agency consultants will pay dividends in the long term.

Peter Segal is a Partner in Ogilvie and Associates an international technology search firm. He has more than twenty years' experience partnering with clients to build high impact leadership teams in thirteen European countries, as well as managing searches in Asia and the United States

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