IT Job Seekers and VMS – Put yourself in a position to win

As I was watching the final play of the Saints/Vikings NFC Championship game last week (and, coincidentally, procrastinating on writing this article), I thought about all of the preparation and moments that must have led to the Saints being in position to win the game on one final play.

If you are an IT Job Seeker, hopefully you realize that you are in a competition and, let me tell you, there is no competition as fierce as getting a job through a VMS. For the uninitiated, VMS is an acronym for Vendor Management System. A VMS is typically used by larger companies to manage their staffing vendors. Some local companies that use VMS Software / Services or a VMS Program to manage their contract, contract to hire and direct hire needs include:

Example list of DFW Companies that use VMS Software and Services*
Southwest Airlines
Perot Systems
Bank of America
XO Communications
Wells Fargo
American Airlines
7-Eleven, Inc.
Capital One Auto
Texas Instruments
Nokia Siemens Networks
JP Morgan Chase
*This is only a small portion of the number of companies that utilize VMS Software and Services in the DFW area.

Some of the reasons that these clients use a VMS may include a single point of contact, consolidated billing, minimal contact with managers, job requirement management, resume/candidate management, etc.

As an IT Job Seeker, you will need to differentiate yourself from other candidates vying for these VMS positions to even get an initial phone screen or face to face interview with the client. This is no small task considering that the number of vendors managed through a VMS can range from 30 to 100+. If each vendor can submit 2 resumes, you will have to compete with a minimum of 59 other candidates for 1 opening.

Here is a list of helpful tips to remember when working through a VMS Program

1. Ask your recruiter / agency if they have direct contact with the hiring managers- While some VMS Programs strictly forbid contact, there are staffing companies that maintain relationships with the hiring manager directly. If you are working with such a recruiter or firm, your chances of getting an interview are increased. Don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter if they have direct contact. While the recruiter / agency must follow the VMS process, a savvy recruiter will also find a way to contact the hiring manager directly to increase the chances of success. There are some recruiters or agencies that will balk at this statement and I wish them the best of luck…..they’ll need it.

2. Write your resume to reflect the job description – Let me put it you this way, if you were hiring for one of these positions and you had to review between 60 and 100 resumes, you would be looking for resumes that stand out. In addition to adding the job description skills and pertintent info in the body of the resume, work with the recruiter to re-write your resume’s opening summary to reflect the job description verbatim. Also, add in bold and parenthesis at the end of each summary line the companies that you utilized the skills in order for the hiring manager to quickly view and determine if you are a fit.
Example Job Requirement line
• Ideal candidates should have 5 yeas of application development for Banking or Financing institutions.
Example Response in summary of resume
• Over 6 years of application development in Banking and Finance (Please see job history “ABC Financial 2004 to 2008” and “JP Morgan 2000 to 2004”)

3. Work with your recruiter to determine competitive compensation – Too often I have seen candidates tell a recruiter what they want or their minimum requirements instead of asking the recruiter what compensation the other candidates are being presented at. Work with your recruiter to present you at a competitive rate or salary. Obviously cost is an issue for the company or they would not be using a VMS in the first place. The last thing that any staffing professional would like to do is commoditize your skills or experience, but unfortunately, sometimes we have to fall within the client’s budget and it can be cut and dry.

4. Do not let more than 1 company represent you for the same position – This will get your resume denied and you rejected. I have personally seen this happen too many times to count. To keep this from happening, ask your recruiter or agency to provide you with documentation regarding the opening as well as a Job number (the majority of VMS Programs provide a job number or ID specific to the position). Once you decide to be represented by the agency they will typically have you sign a “Right to Present” form or have you provide an email with some type of personal info as confirmation, usually a day and month of birth with the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number (don’t let this scare you, it is the norm). Once you have given someone the right to present you, DO NOT LET ANYONE ELSE SUBMIT YOU. Don’t listen to the promises of more money or a “guarantee”. This is typically a recruiter or agency only looking after their interests, not yours.

5. Don’t assume you are already submitted to a job – While being “Double-Submitted” is a huge negative and will get you rejected, don’t assume that you have been presented based upon a job title or similar description. Some VMS Administrators regurgitate the same descriptions to save time and, in other cases, a new job requirement may come up for a particular hiring manager weeks or days after a similar job was posted. To avoid confusion, ask your recruiter / agency for the Job ID or Number. Some VMS Administrators or Programs also allow the agency to ask if a specific person has been submitted for the position. Ask your recruiter if this is possible and have your submittal verified.

6. Keep a Submittal Journal – Keep track of the jobs that you are pursuing by journaling the companies, agencies, recruiter names, job titles, job ID’s, dates and times. This will help avoid any confusion and provide you with data to follow up. Maintain contact with recruiters and agencies to stay fresh in their minds. This will not only help you with VMS positions, but any position you are pursuing.

If you follow the any of the tips above, you will increase your chances of getting an interview through a VMS Program. Remember that the goal is to get an interview and/or speak with the client and you are competing with other candidates to get the position.

Go out and put yourself in the position to win the VMS game!! A little Rah-rah over the top I know but I had to bring it back around to connect to the original NFC Championship analogy.

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