As the technological landscape continues to evolve, the types of IT jobs employers are now hiring for has changed as well. For example, Mainframe, DB2, and VB.NET were once considered to be the main programming languages to perfect. However, an increasing number of companies are now moving toward open source, paving the way for candidates with experience using Java or Python.
Bryan Luther, a Director for ES Technology, a division of The Execu|Search Group, has witnessed firsthand the shift in the skills employers are looking for in prospective candidates. “Whether you’re looking for ways to stay competitive in today’s job market or looking to make a job change in the near future, now is the perfect time to position your skill set for IT jobs in demand,” he says. “This is especially important given the current talent shortage. If you have that hard-to-find, increasingly sought-out skillset, it can give you a competitive edge in your career.
Before starting your job search, think about the following three areas to ensure you stand out as a prospective candidate:
Programming languages + your resume
“Future employers also want to see what you’ve built, how you built it, and what you built it with, so job seekers also emphasis these types of responsibilities,” advises Bryan. “As a result, use stronger action words like ‘developing’, ‘building’ and ‘designing’ over more descriptive terms like ‘exposed to’ or ‘involved with’ when updating your tech resume.
Technical aptitude tests to look out for
Before employers invest in you as a new hire, most of them want to assess your coding proficiency skills to ensure you can excel in your role. This could mean demonstrating your understanding of core computer science fundamentals (i.e., algorithms, data structure, etc.) or explaining object-oriented programming principles.
“Whether you’re pursuing temporary assignments or a full-time IT jobs, you should be prepared to take a technical aptitude test at some point during the interview process, warns Bryan. “To weed out unqualified candidates, employers will also use these tests to see how quickly you are able to pick up technologies as they relate to your core responsibilities.”
Keep in mind, these assessments can be very specific or circumstantial, according to Bryan. “Candidates may be quizzed on something the hiring manager sees on their resume, regardless of whether it is relevant to the job. This is just to be sure the individual can actually speak to it,” he says.
Soft skills to emphasize
While strong programming skills are a prerequisite for many IT jobs, possessing the right soft skills are just as important to show why you are the best candidate. “Too often, tech professionals lose out on opportunities because they emphasize the wrong soft skills during their interviews,” says Bryan. “Tech professionals must obviously have to be able to ‘walk the walk’ during a coding exercise, but they must also be able to ‘talk the talk.’ More times than not, interviewers are not always looking for a specific answer when asking a question. They want to hear about your thought process to assess your communication skills, problem solving ability, and attention-to-detail.”