The COVID-19 pandemic may feel like your own special version of "Groundhog Day": Check in with your contacts, send cover letters, scour LinkedIn…Go to sleep. Wake up. Repeat. On the bright side, IT professionals have some reason for optimism compared to some other lines of work.
1. Get comfortable with the remote interview reality
For the foreseeable future, many job interviews will be online. That means you need to ensure that you look professional and engaging on the video call. You also need to strive to create an emotional connection with the interviewer - not as easy to do on video as in person.
"The virtual presentation part is the biggest change, and a lot of people are not comfortable with that – details like how to position the camera, how to talk to the camera."
Other items to watch:
Look directly into the webcam to make eye contact
Dress professionally head to toe in case you need to stand up
Pick a clean, uncluttered background and avoid virtual backgrounds like baseball parks
Nod and smile more often than you think you need to
Using your hands can also help establish a connection
2. Polish your resume for the bots
What’s working on resumes now? First of all, you must get through the initial screen: the bots.
Indeed, Pnet, Careers 24 and most other leading job boards use AI-powered applicant tracking systems like iCIMS and Taleo to shortlist potential candidates. Understanding how these systems work is just as important as understanding what employers are looking for.
The machines that ‘read’ resumes are targeting keywords that are relevant to the job to be filled, For the best chance of moving forward and getting your resume in front of a human, use wording from the job description in your resume – without making it a carbon copy of the job requirements, of course.
Other resume tips:
Customise the resume for the particular job
Focus on the last ten years of your career
Use two pages if you need them
3. Don't read too much into job titles
IT job titles can be cryptic and vary widely from organisation to organisation. For every DevOps engineer job posting, there is someone passionately arguing that a title itself is contrary to the break-down-the-walls spirit of DevOps. Some companies think “DevOps engineer” and “site reliability engineer (SRE)” are synonymous titles; some don’t. Maybe more so than you think.) Recruiters and career coaches will tell you to look past the title and think about the organisation and desired skills. Remember: You don’t need 100 per cent of what’s listed in the job description to qualify. You need to start by getting past the first
screen and having a conversation with a human being to find out what the job entails. IT, unfortunately, is still famous for job descriptions that ask for “purple squirrels” - creatures that don’t exist.
4. Look at the IT roles with a future
You want to pick a career path with some longevity, right? Consider what recruiters say about fading and flourishing IT careers. Here are five with a promising lifespan:
Product managers for digital transformation work
Data scientists and data engineers
Full-stack engineers, especially developers prepared to work with the open-source MERN stack – MongoDB, Express, React, and Node
Within the security realm, demand for these three roles is growing,
Cloud security engineer/managed service security manager
Cybersecurity manager of machine learning and AI/Cyber AI architect
Data scientist for machine learning
5. Fill that digital transformation pain point
Digital transformation remains at the top of the IT leader’s priority list. As a potential job candidate, how can you help fill the pain points in the organisation’s digital transformation plan? This will require a bit o
f networking (with someone inside the organisation who will chat) and analysis on your part.
Consider these typical pain points and how your past job experience could fit:
People who have experience leading cross-functional teams or doing successful cross-functional team projects
Technical engineers who define the IT architecture required
6. Pump up your LinkedIn profile
Love or hate LinkedIn, it often provides a recruiter’s or hiring manager’s first impression of you. Consider these steps to make your profile stand out.
Craft a compelling summary. “Be sure to include recent, relevant, measurable achievements in your summary to stand out from the crowd of people who do what you do.
Add projects and metrics to your experience section. “Include a summary of your job responsibilities, but also include major accomplishments, metrics, or relevant projects you are proud of, If you’ve received promotions, be sure to include all titles under the company and list out different job responsibilities per title.
Populate your skills section. Include technologies, software, and systems you have experience with. Even if your role as an IT leader is naturally less technical, it remains important to stay technologically relevant.
Include links to personal projects. Have a portfolio? A GitHub accounts? A link to a project or case study PDF? Publish those. This is a great way to demonstrate accomplishments or experience.
Establish yourself as a thought leader. Share articles you’ve been quoted in or links to conferences you’ve spoken at to showcase you’re a thought leader in your industry
Go 360 with your recommendations. Include a recommendation not only from your boss, but also from a former colleague, vendor, or business partner. “Switching up the perspective of the recommendations shows different sides of you as a working professional, like how it is to manage you and what it’s like to work with you.”
7. Show off your soft skills and remote work experience
There’s nothing soft about soft skills. IT Leaders are emphasising the essential value of leadership, communication, agility, and other non-technical competencies. We must put more emphasis on them because these are the skills that drive IT success, we should call them core skills because IT organisations can’t succeed without them.
The stress and remote reality of the pandemic, soft skills such as flexibility, listening, and empathy have never been more important. Leaders who don’t like managing change are having a worse year than others.
Showing demonstrable soft skills, which you can bring up in the course of discussing challenging projects and/or working relationships, can put you at the top of the candidate list.
Here are some examples to consider for your next interview – what you can do to show these skills?
Critical thinking/problem solving
Additionally, if you already have significant experience working on teams remotely, that’s a big plus right now since many people are doing it for the first time during the pandemic and will continue doing this post the pandemic. Get ready to tell this story early in your interview, describing the challenges you faced and how you addressed them.
8. Mind the gap
While job seekers have traditionally dreaded explaining gap time on their resumes, the reality is many people will have gaps in 2020 - whether due to a layoff, needing to care for family needs or other challenges.
“Due to today’s current environment, employers will be more mindful and understanding of resume gaps over the next two years.”
When you’re asked about the gap time, be ready to discuss how you filled it. Here are some examples that show you continued learning and improving:
Contributing to open-source projects
Pursuing a personal passion project
Publishing articles or speaking at virtual conferences
Community volunteer work can also be a plus on several levels: “In times of crisis, non-profits are also hit hard because their communities need more from them when they’re working on a shoestring budget, Pro bono project work adds to your resume, builds your network, and shows employers more about your personality.”
9. Consider new certifications and prepare for competency tests
Speaking of certifications, would a particular certification boost your chances of landing your next role? Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an example of a speciality where a new certification could help you land a role; many Quality Assurance professionals are doing just that, as QA roles decrease, and RPA roles increase.
Competency tests (on a particular skill or programming language, for example) are common for technical roles, especially at larger organisations, to make sure the information on your resume matches your actual knowledge.
“Instead of a face-to-face interview, they may be the only factor considered when it comes to identifying which candidates move to the next stage and which are discounted, do your online research to check out a few sample evaluations around the particular skill set."
I hope these tips will assist you in finding your dream job in this uncertain time we live in. Make sure to send your CV our way and check out our Company Profile on LinkedIn for new and exciting career opportunities!