The IT industry is booming and everyone - from small organisations to massive Fortune 500 companies - is hiring right now. For IT pros, this is good news. However, the truth is that most don’t know how to get hired by the companies they want to work for.
Current state of the IT job market
The IT job market has been one of the hottest in any sector over the past couple of years, but it looks like things could be slowing down slightly – at least in terms of salary. EJobDescription.com’s 2016 IT Salary Survey indicates that the salaries of IT professionals in North America increased just 1.39 per cent over the previous 12 months (down from 3 per cent over the prior period). There’s also reason to believe that hiring is slowing down.
But when you really crunch the numbers, it becomes clear that the job market isn’t in trouble. Rather, there’s a sense of complacency. The majority of IT professionals are simply going through the motions and bringing down the averages.
According to a more recent survey by IT staffing company Modis, 32 per cent of IT organisations are willing to offer a 10 to 15 per cent salary increase to IT professionals in an effort to attract top talent. But they aren’t just going to throw that money at people. In order to get hired by one of these companies, you have to prove that you’re worth the money.
Five things successful organisations are looking for
When you look at some of the most successful companies– the Apples and IBM’s of the business world – it’s apparent that they don’t make haphazard hires. They have very clear expectations of what they’re looking for and only hire people who fit their mould. But what are they looking for? If you study the types of IT professionals they hire, it’s clear that they prioritise the following:
1. Multitasking capabilities
Very rarely do IT professionals walk into the office and have a predictable schedule in front of them. Systems go down. Threats pop up. Employees have issues with a specific piece of hardware or software. There are numerous things that can happen on a daily basis, which is why employers are always looking for people who have the ability to multitask without compromising.
The ability to multitask is especially important in smaller businesses that don’t have large IT departments. While your job title may be more of a leadership role, you have to be willing and able to also handle some of the more menial tasks that lower level IT pros typically take on. That might sound easy on paper, but it’s harder to do in the moment.
IT professional John Hales knows all about what it takes to be successful in the world of IT. He’s played a part in hiring dozens of people and has worked alongside some of the most talented folks in the business. So when he says something is important, you can be certain he’s right.
In Hales’ mind, adaptability is significant – both on a micro and macro level. We touched on some of the micro issues in the previous point, but how does adaptability come into play on a grander level?
“Standard ways of doing things change all the time,” Hales notes. “PCs with mainframe access gave way to network servers, which led to server sprawl, which then led to the rise of virtualisation that is evolving into cloud computing.” And this is just one example. You could point to dozens of other changes that have taken place over the past few years. If you aren’t able to adapt, you won’t be successful.
3. Business acumen
Every IT pro knows how to handle the little technical aspects that come with the job, but successful companies want to know that you understand the business side of IT. They want you to be able to look at an IT challenge through the context of larger business strategies and make choices that benefit the organisation now and in the future.
An IT pro with high business acumen will go places. It takes time and exposure to a lot of different situations to become savvy in this area, but make sure you’re constantly honing this aspect of your resume.
Because things are evolving so quickly in the IT space, you have to be a quick learner. Instead of resisting change, your natural instinct has to be to learn on the fly and quickly apply new knowledge. Your ability to learn will be noticed by those around you and should ultimately lead to additional opportunities for moving up.
5. Good communicator
Are you a good communicator? As IT plays a bigger role within greater business success, IT professionals are being called upon more to explain what’s happening and why it matters. If you only speak in techie language and use industry jargon that other people don’t understand, business executives will look at you like you’re crazy.
An ability to speak in layman’s terms and use language that makes sense to those outside the IT department is a skill worth having. It’s also a bonus if you’re a good writer, as this will come in handy when it comes to developing reports, case studies, and other related content.
Are you prepared to land your dream job?
There’s a lot of talk about the IT job market tightening up, but it all depends on how you look at it. Sure, companies aren’t making careless hires just for the sake of expanding their IT departments, but most organisations are always looking for top talent. If you can prove that you’re a cut above the rest of the talent pool, you’ll find yourself with a number of lucrative offers dangling in front of you.
As an IT professional in today’s job market, the key is to show potential employers that you have the hard and soft skills it takes to thrive. Want to know what these skills are? Look no further than the world’s most successful companies. By studying who they hire and what they look for, you can mold yourself into an ideal candidate in no time.
Larry Alton, independent business consultant
Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock