SURPRISING QUALITIES EMPLOYERS VALUE IN CANDIDATES

As the hustle and family time of the holidays moves further behind us and we get back into the normal work routine, do you find yourself thinking it may be time you should explore new career opportunities? Hiring in general and technology hiring for top talent continues to be strong.

Here are some qualities that have nothing to do with technology that IT Hiring Managers also consider when selecting top talent for their team…

Adaptability – Have you been in the same organization and a loyal dedicated employee for 10 – 15 + years?  Although stable employment is very important and people who switch jobs every 6 – 12 months repeatedly may be seen as “job-hoppers”, being in a certain type of organization for many years may put someone at higher risk of not working out when they do accept a new job.  Often, we will see someone who has been with one company for a long time and then their first new job change is short term.  There can be many reasons for this including being a little rusty on deciding the type job that fits them; but, if the organization they left didn’t offer the ability for someone to keep their adaptability skills honed, they may have gotten so good at the way one company works that they have trouble getting acclimated to a new organization.

  • Think about how long you have been with the same company and if it’s been the same environment and they have done things the same way for over 10 years it may be time for a change
  • Consider whether you should change jobs, even if you are doing the same work in a new place, to sharpen your adaptability skills and demonstrate that you can be successful in new and different environments

Communication – Just because you are a people person and can talk with anyone, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to improve on your communication skills.  If you have ever had someone comment on your “chattiness” or looked at their watch when you are talking with them, you should dive deeper into that.  It could be limiting your opportunities for promotion and lowering your scores on job interviews.

Are you “chatty”? There are many reasons and we’re not psychologists, but over the years we’ve seen this being a factor for a candidate being passed over for a job.  We’ve seen this from people across all ranges of skills, backgrounds, years of experience and here is some of why being long-winded is not sought after.

  • It may be an indication of poor communication skills. First and foremost, who has time to spend 45 minutes talking about something that should have been covered in 10 minutes.
  • If you are in IT, that can mean that you aren’t self-confident in your skills or you think you are underqualified for the position. It may be subconscious; but, if you can get the conversation off track and keep talking about anything, you can keep the interviewer from getting all their questions asked. If they run out of time and can’t cover everything they needed to discuss in order to assess your technical skills and fit for the position, you will probably be eliminated anyway so you might as well shorten your answers and let them drive the interview.
  • Another reason may be that you aren’t able to focus your answer on just what the interviewer is asking. This may indicate an inability to prioritize on what’s most important.  Most businesses don’t have the luxury of giving someone the time to do a perfect job, time to address every requirement.  Being able to prioritize what you need to communicate and only share what answers their questions, also demonstrates an ability to prioritize tasks and focus your time on what is your most important business need.
  • Don’t try to take control of the interview by talking on and on. I once had a colleague who asked one question at the beginning of the interview and the candidate could not be gracefully interrupted for the next 45 minutes.  No surprise they didn’t get offered the position.

Interpersonal skills and polish – The lines between technical IT talent and business continue to blur in many organizations.  Just because you spend much of your day with your ear buds in, doesn’t mean that you might not also be expected to interact with business stakeholders, end users, and other non-technical people.  The movement toward agile methods and the manner that different organizations apply agile process could drive increases in the likelihood of direct interaction between the end-user and IT.

  • Your technical peers may have an easier time of trusting your work and technical skills while you are wearing flip flops and shorts; but, that doesn’t mean someone who is not technical and doesn’t always work in your vicinity will be as accepting.
  • It is human nature for people to feel most comfortable around people who are like themselves. Even though diversity is healthy and makes for a more productive environment, you can push the limits of casual by not presenting a polished professional image or being able to fit in with the communication style with the people you are meeting. It’s been pretty acceptable for IT to be casually dressed; but, if you don’t know someone, do you have to take your flip flops off or go barefoot into a work meeting?
  • Polish and interpersonal skills include having the consideration for those around you to make them comfortable and be proud to have you as a coworker.

SUMMARY – Technical people sometimes focus too much on their technical skills.  Be aware that non-technical skills can often be more important than technical expertise.