Biz Skills Top Tech Expertise In Today's Job Hunt

Courtesy of TechCareers If your resume boasts spectacular tech skills, management experience and you've got some nice project achievements under your belt, it still might not be enough to get you invited in for an interview. That's because many corporate tech leaders are looking for all that plus what one recruiting expert calls "Dale Carnegie" skills. Gary Lust, a senior recruiter with Houston-based Geoweb Staffing, says CIOs and IT executives are looking for strong tech skills and the ability to sell the IT program up and down the enterprise—communication skills that can transverse from talking to users to presenting tech projects in the boardroom. "In today's boardroom IT is still viewed as an expense item so tech professionals have to be able to bring across the message of how IT is helping the company make money, or save money," says Lust, a tech recruiter for 19 years. Geoweb Staffing helps employers find personnel from consulting roles to part and full-time positions. He recommends that today's mid-level IT professionals start by taking some accounting courses and other business classes that teach skills such as cost justification. On the communications side job seekers should seriously consider Dale Carnegie communication courses or engaging a personal coach to sharpen speaking and personal interaction skills. "It's really a very good investment for those who want to move up the ladder. There is still a 'geek' label on tech people and you have to present yourself as a technology business person. As I tell job candidates, career advancement is all about sales-being able to sell yourself to the hiring manager requires good communication." The only way candidates can win that next coveted job is to distinguish themselves from the other hundreds of job seekers vying for the role, Lust adds. "Everyone going for the net admin manager job can monitor logs, and do the tech stuff. To get to that next level you have to provide both the tech and the business skills necessary today," the recruiter says, adding that in today's marketplace the candidates with stronger business skills and weak tech skills may actually have the advantage. "You can train people on the tech skills but its nearly impossible to train people to gain instinct, to have business savvy and a good personality for business interaction." Lust gave an example of a military retiree who made a huge leap into an IT leadership role and yet had few tech skills. "When he interviewed with the company it was his leadership skills and management experience in the military that impressed the IT director," explains Lust. The best time to start honing business skills is right now, says the recruiter, as tech professionals can reach out within their current organization and seek out business experiences. He recommends talking with the boss to find out how to spend some time working in various business units and with other teams to gain insight and knowledge past the technical environment. "A good approach is to get rotated around the company working with different groups. By doing this you gain insight on how the company works, not just IT. The key is to get knowledge on every function of the organization. If you stay sitting in that net admin chair you're always going to be wearing the headset and staring at monitors all day," he says. The best news for today's job seekers, adds Lust, is that today's hiring environment is the best he's seen in his 19 years of recruiting. "There is a rebirth in IT hiring, as we have clients coast-to-coach looking for talent. We are experiencing a man-power shortage in many industries," he says, noting two top ones are healthcare and oil and gas industries. Thanks to a drop-off of students studying super computing and Unix-based systems in the past decade, the oil and gas industry is facing a big shortage of experienced workers with knowledge of seismic data and powerful computing environments. In the healthcare industry, hospitals and medical centers are hungry to hire professionals with medical and tech background. That need has even prompted a new IT role: Nurse IT, says Lust. "These employers are looking for medical people, such as nurses, who have gone back to school and taken tech courses as they want that medical background as well as the familiarity with new healthcare regs and the technical skills." Yet, while many industries are facing an IT skills shortage, Lust warns job seekers not to be too cocky in the job search. The constant challenge for today's professionals, he explains, is to recognize where the next big gap will be and what they need to do to be a good candidate for that hiring surge. "The biggest challenge is figuring out what's going to be hot in six months in terms of technology, not what's hot today. So you have to keep learning," he says, noting that today's top skills are are enterprise application integration experience and expertise with service oriented architecture. "The business work is getting complicated and there is a huge drive on to coordinate and hook everything together for better processes and more efficient customer supply chains so you need those business skills and the tech insight on how to make it actually work," he says.