Monday, December 5, 2011

Certs, Degrees, Experience. How do I Get Hired?!?

Technology changes so rapidly that anything you learn in college or are tested on in a cert exam is almost certainly out of date within 3 years.  That doesn't mean they are worthless, but it DOES mean that the longer you've been certified or had your degree the less meaningful it is.

There is no substitute for experience.  Degrees and certifications are used by recruiters and hiring managers to do an initial sort of job applicants and after that they mean little or nothing.  Once you sit down in an interview you've exhausted the usefulness of qualifications and must prove your suitability through your capability to communicate how your past experience would add value to the position you are applying for.

Also, recruiters are making the mistake of asking for the moon on job postings, incorrectly thinking that it is an employers' market.  In reality, Information Technology is one of the few growing sectors of the economy and it is much more difficult to find well qualified candidates than they think.  They would do much better to just ask for the most critical skills and educate their clients (the businesses they hire for) on some more realistic expectations on what they can get and how much it might cost.

Adding to the problem, many companies continue to refuse to train new staff, thinking that there are so many candidates on the market that they can afford to be picky and choose only the best qualified candidates with all of the required skills.  In reality they are only hurting themselves.  By ignoring the benefits of doing their own training they are losing an opportunity to build leaders for their organization, train people to do business THEIR way, and are leaving positions unfilled due to a lack of overqualified candidates.

So, how do you get hired in an upside-down technology employment market?  You get noticed.  If you can get recruiters and hiring managers to come to you instead of sending resumes out to them and posting yourself on Dice or Monster or Careerbuilder then you've won the game without even playing it.  Getting noticed requires you to build a reputation, prove you have skills by participating in social networking and local events, and network with people in your industry.

When more people know you are well qualified more people will ask, "why isn't he/she working for us?"  And they *WILL* come.  I've spent the last couple months on this strategy and I can tell you without reservation that it does work.  For two months after I sold my business in June I had no interviews and had been struggling to make anything happen.  At the beginning of October I began a social media marketing campaign that included making blog posts, networking on LinkedIn and Tweeting significant online activities.  I've had a couple job interviews now and I have recruiters calling me daily.  I could have taken several of the jobs I was called about, but when you're getting this kind of attention you can afford to be choosy.

You can prove you are well qualified without any letters behind your name.  You can do it without a degree.  All you need is a computer, some internet, something you know that other people want to learn about and to tell your story.  I'm confident now that my career will continue with a job I love, and soon.  You can do it too.  You can get hired.

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