Stand Out From the Tech-Professional Crowd

As the UK economy begins to set foot on firmer ground again, many companies are stepping out of their recession induced slumber and hiring.

In fact, the latest JobsOutlook survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has found that some 76 per cent of employers plan to take on more staff over the course of the next quarter.

Looking further afield, 81 per cent of businesses said that in the next 4 to 12 months they would also increase the number of permanent employees they would be taking on.

So the outlook is starting to brighten in the UK on the whole, but there is one industry that has given those who work within it an improved sense of optimism over the course of the year: the tech sector.

A recent industry report from KPMG and Markit has revealed that 49 per cent of technology firms are set to increase their headcount over the next 12 months which will mean that hiring in this area is at its strongest for almost three years.
Recruiters and candidates alike will be encouraged by the news that hiring intentions in the sector have risen to 56 per cent in the first quarter of 2014. This impressive statistic is larger than the entire UK private sector which recorded 53.7 per cent, according to Markit’s purchasing manager’s index (PMI).

Tim Moore, a senior economist at Markit, said: “The latest survey suggests that the tech sector again outperformed the UK economy in terms of job creation, reflecting widespread optimism that workloads will continue to expand over the months ahead.”
So it seems that 2014 is set to be a good year for those working in the information and technology sector but how can potential candidates stand out from the rest of the pack in order to land their perfect role?

Hone your skills

The very nature of the IT industry means that not only are things constantly changing but they are also moving at a fast pace. As a result of this, the most up to date software or programs may not be the most up to date for long and it can help to keep constantly brushing up your skills.

IT recruiters said the most important skills they needed from tech staff were SQL, .NET and Java in the Monster IT jobs report as reported in Redmond Magazine. Experts say that it is important for IT specialists to have a broad range of knowledge when it comes to programming and so having experience in these three areas could help distinguish you from the crowd.
Embrace the cloud

Cloud computing has exploded over the last 12 months and as a result of this many tech firms now see skills in this area as very attractive.
With this type of technology only likely to flourish over the course of 2014, professionals in the IT sector may wish to acquire skills in this area to distinguish themselves from their competition.

According to, Cloud computing allows businesses to grow and big players such as Amazon and Spotify have already adapted their business models to accommodate the software. With the UK economy starting to recover, firms who possess the proper resources could look to invest in the cloud as a way to grow their own business, giving IT specialists with skills in this area a reason to be optimistic.

Be flexible

As an IT professional, it’s likely that your skills could be used to plug certain gaps in the current market. As a result of skills shortages facing the sector, some employers may look to short-term appointments to fulfil their requirements.

Making yourself available to different types of work, such as permanent or temporary, may make you more attractive to employers with regards to certain contracts and roles.

Speaking about the company's JobOutlook report, the REC’s chief executive Kevin Green said: “Being able to access high quality flexible staff to meet variations in demand has been vital to British businesses during the downturn.  Now we see that the majority of employers who are using flexible resource are doing so to fill talent shortages. 

“As scarcity of skills continues to be an issue in key sectors like IT, engineering and logistics, contractors, interim managers and agency workers are becoming more important than ever to help businesses quickly access the skills they need to stay competitive.”
What does Google say? 

While it is clear that IT job applicants must have a rich and varied set of technical skills and a degree of flexibility, there are other attributes that employers want to see as well. 

Google is renowned for having one of the most unique and challenging hiring processes in the world and the technology giant leaves no stone unturned in its search for special, creative employees who can fit into the organisation straight away. 
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google, said that while strong academic grades are handy, they are not the be all and end all. In fact, the number of Google employees who have not received a college education is as high as 14 per cent on some teams. 

Mr Bock said there are five main attributes that Google looks for in new hires.

- Learning ability
- Leadership skills
- Humility 
- Being able to admit to mistakes
- Expertise

Mr Bock added that expertise is the least important of these five factors, while being able to learn is one of the most crucial attributes. 
He told the news provider: "If it's a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles. For every job, though, the number one thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it's not I.Q. It's learning ability.

The Google recruitment chief added that candidates are given problems to solve and he is always looking to see who stands up and takes the problem by the scruff of the neck and who merges into the background. 

He also believes future Google employees need to display humility - which means not taking all of the credit if their idea has helped to solve a problem, as well as listening to advice from others. Applicants must also be able to admit to their mistakes and then learn from them. 
What does this tell us? 

Google's approach to hiring shows that while it is clearly very important for IT specialists to have strong technical skills, they can also be judged on their personality traits and mental attributes. 

It must be said that as one of the most iconic corporations on the planet, Google can afford to be more stringent when hiring new staff, as it is inundated with applications from some immensely talented people. 

The apparent shortage of IT experts in Europe means the competition for the best workers is more intense, but nevertheless, it is still a good idea for job hunters to think about what a company wants to see from them when they apply for a vacant role. 

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