Decoding your next move
Job listings and career pages speak in a specific language. What do they really mean by what they say? And how can you get the right read on the company you want?
Sure, it’s a pretty good market if you are looking for a tech job this year. But getting ‘a’ job vs getting ‘the’ job is different. If you’re a contractor looking to make your next move, or a full-timer considering a change, here are some of the top tips from corporate side experts to give perspective on what they are looking for from you.
Even if you think you have a great plan, take a look. You may discover a few ideas that you can incorporate to move your career forward.
Tip #1: Prove your expertise
Kristy Sundiaia, Chief of Staff and Global Head of People Group at LivePerson.com told Transmosis.com that this year they’ve got a success-driven agenda for candidates to meet, regardless of their position.
“We look for candidates who possess a results-driven way of looking at things. We identify the traits that the most successful people at our company possess, something we call the ‘Success Formula’, and we are able to structure interview questions that will really gauge if a candidate will succeed here.”
This laser focus doesn’t apply to LivePerson alone. Recruiters and HR professionals are getting more strategic in their hiring approach, hiring for expert talent that are able to deliver from the moment they walk through the doors. That means, if there’s a position you want, do your homework. Break down what the employer wants piece by piece from the job description then tailor your resume to showcase those valuable assets. And practice your story ahead of interviews, so you’ve got it on point. Show them you’ve driven results in this area before, and you are well prepared to handle what they need the day you walk in.
Tip #2: Show Darwin got it right
While there are differing ideas across the board on what’s critical for a candidate to deliver to companies, one idea shines among all others: adaptation. Yes, they want people who can learn along the way. Yes, they want people who have the experience they need. But seemingly the most important skill of all is the ability to assimilate into a culture, work with different teams, and adapt to the way they do things. So, be prepared to listen, watch and learn for at least a month out of the gate. Give others the chance to lead, and learn from their delivery, gaining insight into the hierarchies, departmental requirements and collaborative framework that drives their culture. Show them you’re smart enough to know you need to learn and are inspired by the opportunity. Terrell Sledge, Technical Recruiter at Sailthru notes “In many ways, a skilled engineer is always learning. They are eager to adapt and adopt new skills and languages.”
How do you do it? Tell a story. Talk about a time you changed the way you worked to collaborate more effectively with a business unit. Tell about the startup whose laissez-faire management had you stepping into a more process-oriented role for your group. Whatever your experience and knowledge base, it can be peppered with an adaptability message.
Tip #3: Be the specialist in one category
When it’s time for you to nail your technical interview, be aware that companies are most likely looking for more than depth at one skill. Hiring managers view site engineers as the most critical hires they’ll make this year. In fact, The Bureau of Labor statistics anticipates a 22% growth in software engineering roles from 2012 to 2022 — twice the average growth of other roles. Also, high on the list, Android and iOS developers, Software Development Engineers in Test (SDETs), full stack developers who focus on front end and middleware and site reliability engineers — people who can help get a system up and running — are all currently positions Jessica Sant, Senior Director of Software Development and Engineering at Comcast, says will be among the many hired this year.
Your skills may be in demand, but just one skill alone may not be enough to get you the position or the salary you’re after. Ability must be met by understanding the framework of the business unit, its goals and objectives. Show your interest in understanding the big picture for the business and to develop beyond your current set of skills.
Tip #4: Get granular about your successes and failures
Not only do you have to show that you can produce results, but, according to Sundjaja at LivePerson, you need to show how you measure and define success. Talk about the launch of a part of the site or your management in initiating a new software application across units. Illustrate any points of management and delegation, and your success in delivering above and beyond — with quantifiable points to prove it. Companies also want someone who can handle a crisis, or even a failure. Everyone makes mistakes, hiring managers want to know more about your recovery than your failure.
Tip #5: Yes, you can be too confident
Every hiring manager wants to see confidence. But that confidence has to be used as a tool to demonstrate the skills they’ve outlined in the job listing. Which means read it through carefully. Look at who reports to whom, the size of the company, and the complexity of the role. See if you’re working with an international or local team. When the job listing says ‘aggressive growth goals’ it may mean they need someone driven and self-motivated. If the listing says little, it might mean that this is a role that requires details and focus on just the task at hand.
There’s no such thing as casual information on a job listing. It’s easy to take a job title as rote and the role as a given. But each word or a listing is written for a reason so you need to think about your education, your skills, and your history in relation to those words. Lack of years can be made up for by a smart accounting of your disciplines and your experience. Quality definitely comes before quantity. When she asks for three years of management experience, Susan Keck-Truman, Director of Human Resources at Nortel Networks, in San Jose, Calif. says, she really is looking for three years of management expertise. Two years of intensive supervisory duties can give you more experience than 10 years of not-so-intensive work. With technical jobs, more years of experience aren’t always better.
“We find that when we put too many years [in the ad], we don’t get the kind of up-to-date managers that we want,” Keck-Truman says.
According to LinkedIn, while job listings for developers point to the need for college degrees and years of experience, the need for talented developers open up that playing field a bit more. Companies are now more willing than ever to consider talent with less traditional backgrounds if they’ve got the coding skills to back it up.
It goes on to say that what’s most important is the code that you’ve published online (whether that’s through your GitHub profile, an open-source project or even just the source for your website).
David Gracia, VP, Hollister Technology notes: “The bottom line is, for people to find and get the job they want, they need to show they’ve done their homework. Having commensurate skills matters, but showing knowledge of the company, their culture, and what makes them ‘special’ is key.”