The interview is widely considered to be the most important part of the job seeking process, but how do you get there? To be considered for a desirable position, you need to stand out among other qualified applicants. Are you bringing the right tools and skills to the table? Before you’re even looking for your next job, do the homework to make sure you’re a top-tier candidate by the time you apply.
Sam King, Division Manager of Workbridge Associates New York, has some valuable market insight on the best practices for positioning yourself as a desirable candidate in the competitive IT job market of today.
Looking to hire tech talent or find a job in New York City? Contact Sam's team here.
Know Where You Stand
Whether you are entry level or an expert in your field, knowing what’s expected in your industry should be the first step in any career, and especially your job search. In any given role, your scope of work and responsibilities will vary drastically depending on your experience level, tech stack, and ability to manage others. Soft skills and hard skills both play a role in determining your experience level.
- Soft skills usually involve user interaction, or business side interaction with product, marketing, sales etc. and are most necessary for IT managers.
- A junior engineer is traditionally less involved in these areas. Soft skills like excellent communication and understanding tech’s role in driving business are gained over time as opposed to hard skills, which are usually more relevant to design, architecture, development and implementation of specific technologies.
- Junior candidates spend the majority of their time focusing on building and integrating systems but aren’t ultimately driving the decisions behind the scenes.
- Decision making is reserved for the senior staff, who have the ideal perspective to make well-informed business decisions.
Get Familiar with Your Audience
Research the companies you’re interested in. Talk to people in your network and check out recent press about them. What type of company culture do they have? Is there room for growth? Is it a team environment? Which technologies are they using? What are people saying about them online? Who’s on the leadership team and what makes them successful? What types of products or services do they offer? Would you use their product or service? This research will give you the best indication if you’re a good fit, not to mention your knowledge of the organization is sure to impress the hiring manager conducting the interview!
Level the Playing Field
What do other professionals in your field have certifications in?
Are they publishing their work on popular code repositories like GitHub, HackerRank & BitBucket? Candidates who show initiative in acquiring certifications for new technologies will find themselves at the front of the line when compared with candidates who stick to the status quo. You’ll be able to better position yourself for success by modeling your efforts after the best practices of others who have come before you. A study conducted by IT Business Edge claims that “Forty percent of tech consultants said obtaining a certification helped them land a new gig.”
Tailor Your Resume
Your resume should be adjusted for each job you apply to. Emphasize the most relevant skills required for the job in your summary, skills section and in your work experience. The ideal resume length is one to two pages, so avoid cluttering it with irrelevant experience. It should be easy to navigate and reflect your ability to provide a solution for a current business need, as well as showcase any subject matter expert contributions you've made as a thought leader.
Make Your Web Presence Shine
Your online profiles (LinkedIn, About.Me, etc.) are the first things potential employers will see when evaluating you for a position. Check LinkedIn and About.Me to make sure your message is clear and accurately describes your ability to contribute to the organization. What type of language are people with similar jobs using to describe their experience? Let others know what technologies you work with, what certifications you have and the level of experience you can bring to the table. Sam King, Division Manager of Workbridge Associates New York, has this to say about what helps candidates stand out:
Interested in attending networking events in your area? Check out Tech in Motion today!
Practice Makes Perfect
Consider every interaction an interview, whether with a potential hiring manager or a connection that could be a reference for you in the future. Practicing interview Q&A’s before the job search will help you seem intelligent, personable and prepared in any interview or conversation, as well as help you conceptualize what your best qualities and career desires are. In an actual interview, the line of questioning tends to follow a common theme. Research typical questions asked in technical interviews and prep answers for each. You shouldn’t be surprised by questions like “What role do you think you’re a perfect match for?” or “What’s a personal challenge you’ve been able to overcome?” in a job interview, and you shouldn't be surprised by them outside an interview.
One of the biggest contributing factors of salary growth is experience, and the way that engineers can leverage their experience to get the best possible pay will make the upmost difference. After analyzing thousands of job placements across the United States and Canada, we have built a graph that demonstrates the growth of annual salaries by experience level in the tech industry.
You're probably wondering why the above graph illustrates that having "0 years" or no years of experience in the tech industry can get you a higher paying salary than someone who has one or two years. Surprisingly, an entry-level university or college graduate with little to no experience can actually negotiate at 4% higher salary than their peers who already have some experience in the industry.
4 Obstacles that Young Professionals Face in the Tech Industry
Some reasons behind this are:
1. With a shortage of tech talent, there is fierce competition amongst big companies to attract engineers and tech graduates right out of school.
2. If the candidate has little experience, but is already searching for a new job, it's a big indicator that something went wrong, such as termination of employment. It could also indicate that a person is looking for some type of career change (industry, company, technology, location, etc.) and would be willing to settle for a lower salary.
3. Once graduated, many young people try to find success as entrepreneurs. If that fails, a lot of them will then resort back to the job market, where their experience as entrepreneurs partially counts but their earnings at the time were little to none. Therefore, there is more leverage for an employer to offer less.
Start your job search in tech by checking out our job listings in a city near you!
Read the entire report on Tech in Motion Events website, and get further insight into how your experience level can influence how much you make.
Companies (much like singles these days) are always looking for great candidates to join their team, similar to how people are always in search of "the right one." This is especially true when it comes to hiring a permanent candidate or even a short-term contractor.
Whether it's on a perm or contract basis, companies can't afford to waste their time with potential candidates who are not serious about their search. The truth is 40% of employees who quit their job last year did so within six months of starting the position (via INC). So how can you avoid this? Perhaps taking your search for exceptional talent to a recruiting agency, a hiring matchmaker if you will, could be your best option for finding "the right one" to join your team.
Why hire a professional matchmaker? Here are a few ways they can effect your hiring process so you be more efficient with your time and energy:
1. Provide a pre-screening step to make sure applicants are what you see.
Recruiters go through a process when verifiying candidates: they talk to them, meet with them in person, check their references, and run a background check. At Workbridge, our contractors are on a W2 and are treated as our own employees, so candidates need to be able to pass our inspection. Companies can rest easy when it comes to the quality of the candidates good matchmakers are providing.
2. Cater to compatibility so you don't waste time qualifying candidates.
Every recruiter also should screen each candidate to ensure they are a fit for the role. Ideally, they would talk to the candidates about their experience and the position to ensure a match. Recruiting agencies that know what they're doing don't waste a hiring manager's time with candidates who are not a fit, and with an outside perspective can sometimes find the diamond in the rough a hiring manager might have missed.
3. Save you time, energy, and effort by doing the hard work.
Recruiters are responsible for helping the candidate through the process, which includes pay rate conversations. They take on the responsibility of providing benefits information, and even supplying benefits for contractors, as well as explaining workplace insurance and background checks. They are trained and experienced to make the process of finding and bringing on the right candidate as fast as possible.
4. Find great candidates you might not find on your own.
Top recruiters have a large network and diverse methods that make finding these hard-to-reach candidates possible. At Workbridge Associates, we even sponsor networking meetups through our event series, Tech in Motion, in all of our active cities. Why waste time companies combing through resumes to find "the one" (or the few)? The goal of skipping this step in the process is to give you more time to talk to qualified candidates, instead of spending that time trying to track them down.
But before you enter into the recruiting process, or the matchmaking world, consider the following:
- Don't go in with unrealistic expectations.
- Even the best recruiters still aren't miracle workers. Recruiters and hiring managers have the same goal: get your open roles filled with the best possible candidate that you can afford. It helps to have an open mind and hire the person who fits.
- Go into the process with a positive attitude.
- Looking for the candidate that fits the role, matches the company culture, and can get the job done is priority. Finding all the reasons why the person isn't perfect is not.
- It takes money to make money.
- Using an agency has its costs, even though options like contracting make it more affordable. The tech talent market is competitive, and you get what you pay for in terms of quality - whether it's a candidate or the recruiting agency you're working with. However, being up front about costs and willing to compromise could help a good recruiter find a way to work within your budget.
Over the past 27 years, Workbridge Associates has worked with hundreds of thousands of engineers across North America to help find these tech professionals their dream jobs. While the vast majority end up in positions that pay between $50,000 and $140,000, we have also placed many engineers at the $200K-$300K+ range. Based on placements done over the last three years, Workbridge pulled together a guide to tell you what you need to do to get there, with data about the highest paid salaries by location, experience, skill set, and more.
Based on experience, Workbridge has found that you can be the greatest developer with a Ph.D. in Engineering, but a $200K position may not exist in the geographic region you live in. As the report signifies, most of the job openings in the $200K range are located in San Francisco, San Jose, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Apply to a job in one of our cities and get one step closer to the salary you're looking for.
While it's still possible to reach the $200K level elsewhere, if you’re not open to relocating to a place where the pay is higher, you may be limiting yourself. For the full report and more details on how you can earn the highest salary, such as skills and experience level, read the full article by clicking below.