As we charge ahead into 2014, gone are the days when we would argue over whether a war for tech talent really existed. Now, it seems, the general consensus is that this war is very much alive and well and that it will only escalate as we move into the second half of the decade.
Unfortunately, that is generally where the agreement ends.
For although there seems to be a lot of talk about this war, you will find (as in most wars) a lot of confusion about what caused it and even less understanding about how to resolve it (but instead a whole lot of finger-pointing). Oddly enough, despite the cry for more strategic visioning on the part of tech candidates, there seems to be a severe lack of it on the hiring side as well.
If you scour long and hard enough, you can find all kinds of statistics, like how few people are graduating with computer science degrees and how current tech professionals are looking for corporate wonderlands. You will see calls for better hiring practices and for corporations to step up their benefits and “fun” meters.
You also will see blame placed at the foot of universities that haven’t adapted to the changing marketplace fast enough and at the foot of cultural dynamics because more women aren’t taking up technical careers. High schools are blamed for poor curriculum in the math and sciences, and U.S. parents are blamed for not encouraging their kids to focus on tech careers more.
As if that isn’t enough, we also have industry execs putting forth clarion calls for techie MBAs and companies filled with staff who all understand computer code (just enough to be dangerous) from the marketing department to the CEO. In other words, techies need to speak less Geek, while non-techies need to speak more of it [so they “in theory” can meet in the middle]. IT as a service provider is out (at least “in theory”), and IT as a strategic business partner is in (at least “in theory”).
In the meantime, while all this pontificating is going around, real, live tech candidates are wondering just what to do with their IT resumes.
Here are some tips for positioning your resume to meet the demands of this tech talent war:
- Show, don’t tell, that you are a team player. And by “team player,” I mean successful in collaborating across business segments. Highlight experience that showcases instances of where you collaborated with various company operations and used your knowledge base to improve on those operations, not just to fix computer problems.
- Don’t run away from service provider skills, but show that you are agile enough to use them in a strategic way. It’s great you can put the fire out, but what can you do with these skills to resolve the needs of business? Again, IT as a strategic business partner is hot right now. So you need to play along, and your resume should show that you have and will continue to do so.
- Recognize that metrics matter…to leadership…if not to you. Often those with highly technical skills don’t track and give as much weight to the quantifiable results of their work. Instead, they would rather focus on how they accomplished such and such miracle. The problem is that leadership likes to communicate results, not necessarily the nitty-gritty. So candidates need to show both, the measurable results as well as the know-how.
- Be forward-thinking. Companies don’t just want to know what you’ve done but how you will take that knowledge and use it to better their environments. So be innovative. Brainstorm ahead of time some ideas for improving business operations and prepare an “innovation” page that showcases those ideas.