Sunday, February 16, 2020

IT Job Postings...Yeah!

A lot can be said about job postings and whether or not they represent the real world.  Well, kind reader, they do not.  Well, I guess I should say "not exactly".  Wait, what?

Here is the low-down on job postings...they are for the "perfect" candidate.  A candidate that does not exist.  Not in the past, not now, nor in the future.  It's as simple as that.  Why do employers cast such a wide net, then?  Easy, they want the largest pool of qualified candidates that they can get and they want the smallest one possible, as well.

I am sure that to many of us that sounds counter-intuitive.  They seem to want all and none, the perfect Schrodinger's job listing.  Think about it...if I create a job posting that sounds impossible to fill, then the weaker candidates will probably not apply.  Also, the strongest candidates will likely apply and I will get the cream of the crop to choose from.  Having spoken to many hiring managers, this approach isn't exactly "scientific", so some postings get the bottom of the barrel and others get the top choices.  It seems rather arbitrary.

Should we just give up, since the employer wants a perfect candidate, one who doesn't exist, and clearly we exist...right?  No.  Undeniably, no.  DO. NOT. GIVE. UP!

There, I said it.  Do not give up.  No, you (and I) are not the perfect candidate.  The employer knows that the perfect one doesn't exist and even if they did, the company doesn't have the budget for hiring you, oh perfect one.  And that is a good thing.  No, a GREAT thing!  As you can tell, this posting is going to have a lot of capitalized words in it.  Unless I lose interest in them.  Then all bets are off.

Let me put this out there and tie it into the previous post about educational endeavors:  job postings are a gold mine of information about the needs of the local job market.  They point out the technologies that are in high demand.  You can craft a personal development road map using those postings.  Just do me a favor, okay?  Do not just look for the technology that pays the best or is the latest buzzword bingo winner.  If you don't pursue something that interests you and that you are good at, you will get bored or won't be good enough and your performance on the job will suffer.  Depending on the market, you could easily end up closing more doors by doing that than you open.

By looking at the postings, you can see what the need is and if you are at the beginning of your career, or looking to change career trajectories, you can start looking at ways to become the most ideal candidate you can be.  In some ways, the clues are right there in front of your nose.  Unfortunately, just because you become cloud certified or a cyber-security guru doesn't mean that you have what it takes to be successful in landing the job.

So use the clues to develop yourself but also realize that there are other attributes that your employer is looking for, whether or not it is written down in the posting.  So do yourself a big favor and try to develop the following skills:

1.  Public speaking.  You can take a class at your local college or join a local Toastmasters International group.  While sometimes scary, once you conquer that fear you will see your stock rise in any company that you work for.  Not to mention, during interviews it isn't the smartest person but the one that communicates in a way that the company understands who gets the job.

2.  Writing.  While I am certainly no expert on proper writing, you will go far if you develop your writing skills.  Some of the top non-technical attributes that employers want include written as well as verbal communication skills.  No one wants to get an email from someone that is hard to read.  Use a service like Grammarly if you need it.  There is no shame at all in using available tools to assist you in creating clear communications with your coworkers.  In fact, most great managers, leaders, and coworkers likely use spell-checker, at the least.  Just be careful when using Google as your spell-checker...it gets a bit snarky when you misspell something (Did you mean..."I have no clue, Google!  Why are you judging ME?!"  Very definitely deflates your ego, Google does).

3.  Be kind.  We don't need more people in tech who are self-important ass clowns.  We have enough already.  If your customer comes to you with a problem, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that they will likely feel dumb because they can't fix the problem themselves.  That creates anxiety, which can really blowup in your face if you act superior or treat them like rebel scum.  Seriously, be gentle, be kind, and talk them through the problem without talking down to them.

4.  Be a team player.  Yes, we have our office in the basement.  No, no one else has an office down there (not even facilities maintenance).  Yes, we are isolated.  No, that doesn't give you permission to act as if the company revolves around your department.  We are here to support the success of the company we work for.  Learn a little about what the different departments do so that you can better understand why they might have a sense of urgency that you don't share.  Yes, being a team player can mean getting walked all over if you are too nice.  But honestly, if you let people know that you merely want to help them be successful at their job through the application of the technology that you are charged with maintaining, you will be seen differently (and that is usually a good thing).

Okay, that was a tangent that I didn't anticipate taking.  Now that that is over, let's get back to the regularly scheduled flow of information from my brain to this blog.

Aside from the fact that you can use job postings to help develop your training program, realize that since the ideal candidate doesn't exist YOU should apply anyway.  If they have hard requirements, which usually start with the word must, then you might want to consider applying for the job but don't be surprised to not get a call back.  Aside from that, though, I honestly think that most "ideal" candidates are the ones that don't meet all of the requirements but are:  teachable, inquisitive, and would work well with the team that we currently have in place.  As the saying goes:  you won't know if you don't ask.  Applying is the asking.  You just might be surprised by how often you get called back.

In the next blog posting we will talk about the dreaded cover letter.


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