Skills recruiters look for in IT pros (aside from coding)


There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding the possible shortage in IT talent.

CRN reported on a recent panel held at the Massachusetts State House in which Verizon Senior Manager Manuel Zapata said that there are simply not enough computer scientists in the workforce available to fill the tech positions that are increasingly opening up. As a job-seeking IT pro, this should be great news. With more opportunities available, you can be more selective in which company to work for, right? This is true. But there’s something else you should take into consideration when applying for jobs: Many corporations are reconsidering what qualities and skills they find most important in the people they hire for tech positions.

Google Industry Director Brian Cusack pointed out that, it’s not a shortage in IT talent that is becoming an issue. Instead, he said, “I think the question is finding the right talent for the job. We need to hire individuals who have those same types of analytics skills that can be combined with salesmanship.”

“There has been a shift in the kind of qualities companies want in IT pros.”

The strategy of  recruiting job seekers that possess a blend of specialties is being adopted by giants in other segments. PwC FinTech Director Jeremy Drane recently told Coin Desk that filling financial technology positions can be challenging, not because the candidates aren’t highly-skilled, but because they are overly specialized in one category.

“For us, we’re looking for people that cut across all domains, and there aren’t a lot of people out there,” he told the source.

It’s not just businesses, then, that are experiencing increased competition in the job market. Developers and engineers now have to compete with applicants that have specialties in areas even outside of IT.  This is why, to become a more appealing candidate and improve your hireability, you need to focus on skills that aren’t just about writing algorithms.

Here are some of the most important qualities and how you can demonstrate them in the recruitment process.

Critical and strategic thinking
In an interview, you already expect to be answering programming questions. Often, the hiring manager will ask you to solve a coding challenge. But it’s important to keep in mind that gauging your ability to solve a problem isn’t the only purpose of these puzzles. They’re not just interested in the final conclusion, but the process you took to get there. Were you decisive and confident? Did you change strategies at any point? Did you need guidance or were you productive with exploring the issue on your own?

When you are being asked questions during the interview, don’t just limit yourself to one answer. The hiring manager may highlight a (real or fake) problem they had and inquire about what solution you would propose. To demonstrate that you are capable of strategic thinking, instead of suggesting, for example, a single programming language, cover multiple scenarios where one may be better to use over another.

The approach IT pros take to problem solving can be as important as the result.
IT approaches for problem solving

The approach IT pros take to problem solving can be as important as the result.

Communication skills
It is important that you not only show you have the technical skills to solve the business challenges, but that you are able to clearly articulate to non-IT pros how and why a particular process was used. Practice discussing the way you solve an issue from start to finish. As companies begin to integrate the perspectives and opinions of tech workers more heavily into the overall corporate strategy for innovation in growth, it is going to be valuable to have an IT expert that can maintain clear communication. Therefore, it is important that you’re able to convince the hiring manager you are able to communicate well.

If you’re being interviewed by a hiring manager that isn’t trained or knowledgeable in IT, avoid using too much industry jargon. So, before you head into the interview, it may help to explain some specific technical projects to a non-tech-savvy friend. If he or she is able to understand, you’re likely doing it right.

IT continues to overlap with other areas of the business. Therefore, it is going to be increasingly important that you are able to collaborate and work well with other workers. This can be demonstrated on multiple levels, starting with that you include on your resume. Open source projects, for example, may indicate that you’re comfortable working with other programmers’ code.

“In IT hiring, it’s not just technical skills that matter.”

To convince a hiring manager that you are an IT pro who will fit in and get along with the staff, you need to hone your people skills. Ask about the company’s current tech team and what struggles they face on the job. Inquire about other areas of the business to show you are looking at the big picture of the organization’s performance, not just the individual responsibilities of the specific role you’re applying for.

As the competitiveness of IT recruitment intensifies, you want to make sure you are prepared to promote yourself in a way that will be most appealing to the top companies. And, right now, that means harnessing a wide range of qualities and skills, only some of which are directly related to programming.

Skills recruiters look for in IT pros (aside from coding)
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