While as a tech professional your skill set is in-demand, it’s important to realize that employers are still looking for the best-of-the-best talent that can check the box on a variety of niche skills. It’s no longer enough to apply as an “IT specialist” with a blanket resume and cold application. What makes you ideal for specific positions and how can you prove it? You can have all the experience in the world, but if you don’t show it off, who will know? Follow the steps below and brag a little:
First things first. Before you hop online and begin to design a digital portfolio (we’ll get to that), you need to polish your good old-fashioned, Word-doc resume. Whether you’re a recent grad or have years of experience in the tech industry, it’s good practice to update and customize your resume based on each position you’re applying for. For tech professionals, clearly listing specific skills you’ve honed, coding languages you know, and programs you have experience in are just as important as chronologically listing your past positions. In order to limit your resume to one page, this will likely require cutting out positions that just aren’t relevant.
If you’re new to the field, upper-level assignments from classes or independent projects definitely have a place on your resume. For example, if you’re applying for an entry-level position that requires knowledge of SQL, you better include that database project you aced senior year on your resume. Once you’ve updated your resume with the most up-to-date and relevant skills and experience, you can move on to the fun part.
As a tech pro, you’ll be hard pressed to find a position that doesn’t ask for a link to your online portfolio. Building a digital tech portfolio gives you a chance to define your own brand and showcase all of the projects you’ve poured your blood, sweat, and tears into (emphasis on the tears). Like many job-search tasks, the hardest part of building an online portfolio is finding the best way to stand out. Don’t worry, once you’re on a roll, your creativity should run rampant. Should you describe yourself as a coding-ninja? Should you have a headshot front and center, or remain an elusive genius behind a screen? You’ll answer these questions in time, but for now, pick what platform you want to get started on.
The platform you choose (and how you design it) depends largely on what positions you’re applying for and what projects you’re wanting to showcase. Start with our list below:
You can spend hours updating your resume and weeks creating an online portfolio, but you might still wait for months to be contacted about an open position – unless, that is, you become an expert networker. If you’ve flinched at the thought of networking, it’s important to note that it’s no longer synonymous with informational interviews or loud and crowded cocktail parties where you smile and nod even though you have no idea what the other person is saying. Today, networking primarily happens online through professional networks, such as LinkedIn. Just as your tech portfolio represents your personal brand, so too should your professional profiles.
Update your information on your professional profiles (using your resume) and prominently link to your online portfolio. Once you do that, reach out to recruiters at companies you’d like to work for using a well-crafted elevator pitch. If you already completed an online application, let them know! In a sea of applications or a pond of online portfolios as snazzy as yours – networking is the foolproof answer for standing out.
While following the steps above will prove vital to showcasing your tech skills so you’re one step closer to landing the position of your dreams, it’s nice to have an expert in your corner. Our seasoned recruiters here at NueVista take pride in working individually with each of our candidates to help them showcase their skills, prepare for interviews, and connect with rewarding careers.
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Take a moment to reflect on your company from the perspective of an IT professional. What would make them want to be part of your team? Why would they be interested in your open tech roles rather than the countless others out there? Competitive salary offers can certainly play a role, but it takes more than just money to capture the attention and interest of today’s tech pros. With current IT market conditions in favor of candidates, employer branding is becoming a stronger focus for many business leaders.
Half of any strong employer branding strategy must emphasize selling the company by highlighting the characteristics that make it a great workplace. To that end, consider a number of areas that serve to attract great tech talent:
The other half of a strong employer branding strategy is expertly selling the open role. Think of those job descriptions that consist solely of a long, bulleted list of responsibilities. Too often, these focus primarily on what a company requires from the candidate and not what the candidate can expect from the company. This becomes a one-way view of openings that doesn’t work when the IT unemployment rate is 2%.
With studies proving that job seekers value learning new skills and working with challenging technical problems, consider what the most exciting aspects of your openings are and make them stand out wherever the role is mentioned. Does your role offer access to new technologies or coveted software programs? Will it involve working with high-profile projects, Fortune 500 clients, or industry leaders? Where have others who held this role gone in their careers? Let your answers to these questions shape your approach to selling your open IT roles.
Whether a job seeker is exposed to your overall company brand before your open role, or vice-versa, if both are branded correctly, they can feed off each other and create a powerful one-two punch. If your company and roles are primed to sell, it’s time to spread the word to IT pros through a number of channels:
It takes a lot of effort to build a great company filled with exciting opportunities, so don’t let all that hard work go to waste. You might know you have an amazing company and your current employees might know why they love to work for you, but do the job seekers you want to attract know? Spreading the word by focusing on your employer branding is the final piece of the puzzle to put in place.
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With a distinct talent shortage plaguing the industry, it’s hard enough to find solid technology talent for open roles. On top of that, all the talk surrounding immigration reform is having a distinctly negative impact for hiring managers, making recruiting even more difficult. With so much going on in this area, it’s necessary for businesses to take a step back and focus on a successful hiring strategy despite changing H-1B visa laws.
With an overwhelming number of headlines and opinion pieces making their rounds in the news each day, the current state of H-1B law can be quite confusing. While much has been discussed, so far there have been no sweeping or big changes to legislation outside of a few tweaks.
Premium processing for H-1B visas, which expedited the application process for a fee, has been suspended. A provision allowing the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work is likely to be revoked. Additionally, the House Judiciary Committee has recently passed a bill to make it harder for H-1B dependent companies to obtain work permits. Finally, the government is rejecting H-1B applications at a rate 44% higher than last year. Until more concrete changes are clearly spelled out and passed into law, it’s necessary for business owners to keep abreast of what’s coming down the line.
Even though there hasn’t been much official change to law, all the uncertainty surrounding H-1B reform has shaken the foundation of the IT hiring landscape. Today, especially in the countries outside of the United States that produce a great deal of tech talent, there is a distinct fear and hesitation when considering immigrating to America. It’s the very reason why this year’s 199,000 H-1B visa applications represent a dramatic drop over last year.
At the same time, a program that grants foreign science and tech graduates two years of work authorization could be eliminated. Engineering schools have seen a 30% year-over-year drop in international student applications, a figure that is startling considering international students compose 55% of those studying engineering and computer science in America. These direct effects mean that the talent shortage in tech could get even worse as fewer individuals graduate from technology-based college programs and enter the workforce.
The majority of H-1B visa applicants are honest, hard-working, and talented individuals that are vital to IT departments across America. Unfortunately, within the current chaos and confusion, there are a number of opportunists looking to take advantage of the situation. Theoretically, tighter H-1B laws should help catch abuse, but hiring managers still need to pay extra attention to the warning signs.
There are a number of ways someone with ill intent can try to “game the system.” Fake interviews have exploded in frequency this year. This is where a knowledgeable person acts as the candidate for the interview but then a different, unskilled person shows up for the first day of work. Similarly, a video interview might allow for a candidate to receive answers from someone off camera. Combined with a concerted effort to create robust forged resumes, the lengths disreputable people will go to are more alarming than ever.
Combating H-1B visa abuse at the organizational level requires careful candidate screening. There’s no question that a deceptive hire will get noticed when they show up and fail to fulfill the role’s responsibilities, but waiting that long to catch abuse wastes a vast amount of time and resources and requires restarting the recruiting process for that role.
Scrutinize information during every step of the process, beginning with the application and resume. Does anything seem intuitively off? Do dates, titles, and responsibilities make sense, or were they copied and pasted from your job description? Fact check by visiting the applicant’s LinkedIn page, requesting official transcripts from schools, or calling references and previous employers.
While many people might be able to fake a resume or pay off friends to act as references, few will be able to fake their way through an interview. The difficulty lies in the fact many interviews will be conducted via video as the candidate will be overseas. Some may purposely use a slow, choppy internet connection to conceal the fact they are talking with a friend off screen. During the interview, look for signs of the candidate looking to a friend or listening to an ear piece, as these could be indications that they are being fed lines. Ask the candidate direct, technical questions they should be able to answer and see if they can respond immediately while looking into the camera.
It can become easy to obsess and worry over H-1B changes to the point it sabotages your hiring and recruiting. But you don’t need to make it any harder for yourself to hire in an already-tight labor market. Stay focused on your business expertise, employees, and environment with the knowledge that any formal law changes will be communicated well in advance. Plus, should hiring become too difficult in today’s tense environment, rest assured that partnering with a proven staffing firm can be a quick and cost-effective solution.