5 tips for landing your next IT job

29 August 2017
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With the Tech sector in Ireland currently going from strength to strength it’s a great time to have career in technology. Ireland is recognised internationally as a leading location for companies in the software sector and is also known as the second largest software exporter in the world. As a result some of the world’s best tech companies have established an operation in Ireland. In fact Ireland is home to 9 of the top 10 global software companies including Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook. That said, these top organisations require the best talent available to add value to their strategies and goals. One of the first big barriers to the job of your dreams is the interview. We all know Interviews can be stressful at the very least, so here’s some tips for you to consider before you go to the interview.  

Preparation 

Make sure you know history of the organisation and do some homework on recent news on the organisation, take a look at their products, what’s new, old and also take a look at the industry. Find out what are the latest developments and how are they relevant to the organisation. 
When going for highly technical roles like in IT, on top of the standard interview questions the hiring manager will ask you will also be required to answer more focused and specific technical questions regarding you skills, certifications, your languages and what tolls you have expertise in. The hiring manager will be examining you to see how competent you would be at executing the role on offer. 
Make sure you know your CV inside out and are confident that you can talk through your CV and your career history. Don’t forget that an interview is not a place for modesty and you won’t come across arrogant when talking about your previous achievements. Make sure you tell the hiring managers what you have worked on and what outcomes you are proud of.  

Behavioural Questions

Before we talk about the STAR technique, we need to understand the concept of behavioural interviewing. Hiring managers use this technique to assess a potential candidates previous experiences and how they have reacted to past problems and issues in previous jobs. The main reason for these type of questions is because past performance in comparable circumstances is the best predictor of future performance. Before the interview the hiring manager will have a list of behavioural traits that they believe are essential for the job and will then form behavioural interview questions based on the traits. Some examples include: 

“Describe a time when you had to …. What did you do?”
“Give me an example of a time when you had to …”
“Tell me about a situation in the past …”
The interviewer might go into to further detail:
“What was the outcome?”
“Did you consider …?”
“How did the other person react?”

The interviewer will expect you to go into much more detail than a one or two word answer. The questions are set up for you to describe specific examples of you executing the desired behaviours from previous experiences.  When answering these questions you should answer through four steps. (1) What the situation was, (2) what the challenges were, (3) how the interviewee dealt with the situation, and (4) what the outcome was.

STAR technique to guide answers

When answering behavioural questions every answer should reflect the skill in question. It is vital that your response should relate to a previous experience, then describe the challenge you faced, how come dealt with the issue and what results came of you solving the issue. 
When the interviewer asks you the question, make sure to evaluate it in your head and try to figure out its purpose and what specific skill or competence is the question addressing. The next step is to think about a previous experience that could help demonstrate your ability to execute that skill and make sure to structure the answer using the four steps of the ‘STAR’ technique:

‘S’ for Situation: Start by giving some context to the interviewer. Describe a situation, be it from previous work experience, volunteer or any other relevant event in which you can demonstrate the competency at questions. 
‘T’ for Task: Move on to describing your responsibility in that particular situation. What challenges occurred and give the expected outcome and any conditions or prerequisites that needed to be satisfied in order to complete the task at hand. 
‘A’ for Action: Next, describe how you completed the task at hand. Specify analytical work, team effort or project coordination. Make sure to use ‘I’ and ‘we’ statements when possible. 
‘R’ for Results: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generate by the action you have under taken. Make sure you emphasize what you accomplished and what you have learned. Wherever possible, try quantify your achievements and improvements. 



Soft Skills

Technical skills are essential in any IT position, however soft skills are becoming increasingly desired by hiring managers. Interpersonal skills or soft skills are required for IT professionals to successfully communicate with colleagues, clients and everyone in-between. It’s not just being a really good communicator, you must make sure you practise the following soft skills and emphases them in your job application and interview to get a step ahead of your competitors. 
Listening, Teamwork, Leadership, Mentoring, Flexibility, Creativity, Negotiation, Presentation, Determination.
A recent Harris poll of hiring managers revealed that 77% of employers value soft skills as much as hard skills. According to Harvard and Burning Glass Technologies an analysis was undertaken of over 25 million online job postings. Among IT listings, one in four of the most sought-after skills were soft skills. 


 
Importance of Networking

Studies have shown that over 70% of all jobs are found through personal relationships. This means if you want to dramatically improve your chances of getting a job you must put effort into networking. 
Networking doesn’t have to be a difficult, but it can be seen as crucial for developing your career. The good news is that networking is becoming increasingly more common online. Obviously this has its advantages and disadvantages but at the end of the day, tools like LinkedIn have made networking a lot easier that the old days. Be sure to take full advantage of this and have your LinkedIn completed 100% and also get everyone in your network to endorse you for certain skills you have. When building your network make sure to understand that networking isn’t about trying to make as much connections as possible, but rather about meeting a few people who are well connected and can couch for your ability and are willing to refer you to a few other well connected people. 

So, how can you start growing your network? One great way can be to attend events hosted by companies you are potentially interested in working for or industry-specific events in your area. Scouring Eventbrite can be a great place to start, meetup.com has a robust “Events Discovery” section where you can browse events by date and location.

When trying to break into the tech industry in particular, it is important that you showcase everything that you write and create, regardless of the size of the project, getting your work out there is the first steps to getting noticed. Sharing your work can help you connect with other likeminded individuals who are working on similar projects.  

If you want to be a designer, start sharing your work to Behance or Dribbble; if you want to be a developer, push everything to either GitHub or CodePen; and if you want to do content creation, publish a LinkedIn Pulse post or create your own Medium account. You’ll never know who you’ll meet or how their network may help you continue to grow yours.



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Posted on: 29/08/17