Monthly Archives: October 2013

Question: Who Needs Soft Skills? Answer: YOU DO.

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By Glenn Schmidt,      Talent Agent

If you think you are at the top of your game as an IT professional just because you know the latest and greatest technology tools, software and trends, think again.

Many technology professionals believe all they need to land a job, or a promotion, are the talents and know-how for their primary job function. But the reality is that where technical expertise ends, the need and requirement for “soft skills” begins.

First, what are “soft skills”? Basically, these are those characteristics and capabilities that are non-technical, such as communication, leadership, team-building and presentation skills. For example, if you have read any articles about companies recruiting members of the military, one of the most attractive skills military veterans posses is leadership.

Developing these qualities may increase over time with experience, but it’s important for all IT professionals at any level to be aware of and begin to increase their “soft skills” to add value for an employer. For a more complete list of some of the top “soft skills” for IT workers, take a read through this blog post from Tech Republic.

So why is it so important to acquire “soft skills”?

To begin with, for those currently seeking employment, the job market is competitive and you may find yourself qualified for a job that hundreds of others are qualified for as well. You need to be able to differentiate yourself from the pack, and demonstrate that you have more to offer to a prospective employer.

Furthermore, if you have chosen a career path for management you will need more than excellent technical expertise to be considered for such positions. Communication, for example, is a key component to being an effective manager. Being able to convey a message – written and orally – to a variety of audiences including subordinates, peers and executives, could help you achieve your management goals.

Communication and leadership are only a few “soft skills” to add to your capabilities and areas of expertise. There are a host of others that can be developed, and could be the key to landing your next dream job.

Mastering the IT Video Interview

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By Sean McCoy, Senior Talent Manager

Technical, behavioral and phone interviews… oh my! Just when you thought you’d seen every breed of interview, along came the video interview. While they made their debut years ago, they are gaining in popularity as IT companies and hiring managers seek more cost-efficient and productive ways of interviewing candidates. Though they are becoming commonplace, they still can be a bit intimidating for job seekers, even those in the IT industry who use technology regularly.

In fact, according to research from the Aberdeen Group, 32 percent of organizations invested in video interviewing this year, compared to 21 percent in 2012. So, chances are you’ll be in the video spotlight at some point in your IT career. Two recent articles published by LinkedIn and CareerBuilder shed light on this topic, but we’ve also compiled a list to help you master the video technology aspects so you can focus on honing your interview skills to land the job.

There are two fundamental types of video interviewing – either one-way or two-way. In one-way interviews, employers can opt to set up a series of questions in advance, giving candidates a chance to record their answers at his or her convenience.  This allows employers to replay, review and rate the interview more easily and at their own pace, as well as compare candidates’ side-by-side more effectively.

While this format may appear easier or less stressful, be aware that some one-way video interviews simply present a question to you on the screen, giving you a minute or two to think about your answer, then immediately require you to record the response – whether you are ready or not. This can shake candidates’ confidence or be very distracting with no visual or audio responses from the interviewer.

In a two-way or live scenario, the interviewer will be conducting the process much like you were in-person. Despite the fact that you are likely miles away from your interviewer and separated by video screens, all of the same preparations for an in-person interview apply. Beyond that, there are some technical and environmental aspects you’ll need to take care of:

  • A video interview will typically take place in a professional environment either at a recruiter’s office or a company that provides video conferencing services.
  • Be sure to send any written materials that the employer needs or you’d like them to have (such as a resume) well in advance of the interview.
  • Dress professionally in business attire, preferably in solid colors for better camera presence.
  • To ensure you have time to get situated properly, arrive early.  This will also give you time to ask for assistance if unsure how to use the equipment or to scope out the best backdrop for your interview.
  • Since microphones pick up noise easily, don’t shuffle papers or tap a pen.  In fact, keep the surface in front of you clear so there are no distractions for the interviewer.
  • Make eye contact at all times as if the person were in the room with you. If the Picture-in-Picture feature is used, see how you appear and make any adjustments. Pay close attention to lighting.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions and interact with the interviewer.
  • If you are participating in a video interview where you are simply asked to read questions and then respond, do so with the same clarity and eye contact you would use as if a person were there.

Most important, be natural and confident, and it will come across, even through the airways.