It was not long ago when graduates with the required IT skills were offered jobs more frequently. Today, employees are more selective than ever before. As a result, even professionals with years of IT experience struggle to face the challenges. You must be a pro not only with things like coding .Net or Java, but at selling yourself to companies directly or via your resume.
This is not going to be a cakewalk. As quoted by Patti Wilson, Head of The Career Company, Silicon Valley, "A lot of people are brand new to this".
Here are seven useful tips to help you in coping up with the new realities of today’s job market.
1. Never Ignore your Soft Skills
In the year 1999, 2 years of experience as a system administrator was good enough to get you a job in the IT industry. Today you will be challenging 100s of candidates with similar skills and qualifications. You will be more preferable if you can show off your soft skills. According to Wilson, "This is about doing a little bit of soul-searching”.
Ron Peterson, manager at Bradford & Galt, St. Louis suggests that young techies should analyse their core competencies – team building skills and mentoring abilities. He further says "Intangibles are going to sell this individual”.
2. Preparing an Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a short self-marketing statement usually delivered at job fairs, networking events and conferences. Wilson advices, this pitch must summarise your resume with key points aimed at attracting your employer’s attention. They are better when they sound unrehearsed and informal. You may practice delivering it through your answering voice mail.
3. Knowing how to network
As any successful sales person would understand, the best way to find leads is to network properly. The secret lies in whom you know. Wilson believes that being able to connect from person-to-person and building a web of relationships is the key to networking. A successful networker will soon find someone who is looking for his business.
You can improve your networking strategies by attending technical conferences, job fairs, related classes, IT organisations and all other events that are designed for professionals in the IT sector. Sometimes, even civic organisations like arts group and other nonprofit events can be useful. If you are an experienced professional, you can also plan lunches and after-work meetings with recruiters, former colleagues and others.
You are better off going out there and making yourself known. If you sit and wait for things to happen, you are most likely to be disappointed.
4. Approaching a Support Structure
If you want to learn or relearn interviewing skills and networking, you may search for organisations that offer classes or workshop like the NOVA. Nova is a one-stop solution for your career-development purpose.
5. Knowing your Audience
In order to effectively market yourself, you must learn everything possible about a company. This should start from the time you prepare your cover letter to the day you are in the interview room. Barry Mills, the Recruiting Director of Matrix Resources, advices techies must be well-prepared to speak intelligently about an organisation and how their skills can solve company issues.
6. Get Closer
According to Mills, tech experts make use of traditional sales tactics for successfully closing a job interview. As an interview nears its end, you may ask the interviewer "Based on this interview, is there anything that would keep you from hiring me for this position?" This according to Mills is a very sales-type approach. Another great idea would be to send a follow-up note to different people you have met in the company and thank them for the time spent with you.
7. Learn to be patient
Sometimes, it could take weeks or months for you to land in a suitable job. Never be discouraged by this. Job searching is going to be tougher and more challenging year-after-year. But if you stop your hunting efforts, you are surely out of the game. Any successful salesperson will know that only patience and perseverance will help in closing a sale. The same goes well with job search as well.
Hope these seven useful tips help you successfully market yourself as an IT professional or job seeker. If you are a successful IT professional and want to share your success stories, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.