Beyond the Resume: 5 Things to Look for in an IT Applicant

Categories: Advice for HR Professionals, IT Recruitment Advice, Recruitment Advice, Trends and Learning

Beyond the Resume: 5 Things to Look for in An IT Applicant

When hiring for any position, your recruitment firm is likely to look at the applicant’s resume first before allowing the applicant to enter the screening process. Although this is a standard HR practice, you can’t be quickly impressed and assess the applicant based on the resume alone. This applies especially for tech positions that require a more thorough process in skills assessment.

Statistics say that tech has the highest employee turnover rate among job industries at 13.2%, which underscores the importance of choosing a candidate with the potential to grow alongside your organization. Of course, your ideal IT candidate should be a technical expert, but at the same time, should show a fair amount of other equally important traits and skills.

Here’s what to look for in your next hire:

1. Curious mind

Curiosity is a major driving force of success, holding the same importance as intelligence. Many discoveries in technology, science, mathematics, and just about any field started with a curious mind, which describes a person’s insatiable desire to grow in knowledge and gain relevant experiences. Observant and inquisitive, this person is willing to ask questions to satisfy his curiosity.

An IT candidate with a curious mind is someone who can think outside the box – producing original ideas and simplifying complex processes. An IT applicant who displays this kind of working style can be a welcome addition to your organization.

2. Speed and agility

Innovation can lead to business growth, especially for companies that have the speed to market their ideas, product, or service before anyone else does. Trends and technologies are changing at an incredible speed, which requires that you adapt and adopt just as quickly, too.

When employing IT talents based on speed and agility, you might want to look at their methodology of solving mission-critical problems.

You need someone who can figure out not only the smartest way but also the fastest approach to accomplish any given task or goal. This means the candidate you’re looking for should display a good set of decision-making, project management, and execution skills.

3. Emotional discipline

This trait refers to how well an employee handles work-related stress, which is not uncommon in the tech space. The right candidate should have the ability to maintain grace under pressure as this can help keep your operations running smoothly. It also allows customers to enjoy continuous service even when there are technical issues in your system, software, or network.

While your tech personnel should see to it, first and foremost, that your IT infrastructure is as fool proof as possible, your potential IT staff should know how to keep things under control when problems arise.

Instead of pointing fingers at someone or something else, they’d rather identify the source of the problem and apply the best solution, and then make sure to communicate relevant information to the manager so affected users will be updated about the situation.  

4. Data comprehension

Your business is handling a lot of customer data, and consequently, your data scientists will have their hands full putting all of them into your system. In fact, a New York Times article reports that IT personnel in charge of a company’s data science spend about 50% to 80% of their time turning unstructured data into a more structured and usable format.

That said, your future employee needs to show a deep understanding of what kinds of data really matter for your business. You want data that can give you valuable insights about your customers or your industry to guide your decisions for the business.

Furthermore, an IT person who understands your company’s data will be able to recognize how different platforms, channels, or applications work together in relation to your business model.

5. Mastery of at least one primary expertise

One of the most quotable quotes attributed to Bruce Lee says, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

The quote clearly expresses the power of showing expertise in one area instead of learning multiple skills. In the HR context, it simply means hiring the best developer, IT engineer, information officers, and so on who has a high level of competence in whatever area they choose to work in.

By mastering a particular skill, your ideal IT candidate will have gained enough experience and confidence to make good decisions for your IT team.

Making the Cut for Your IT Team

There’s always the challenge for HR to hire the right people regardless of what position needs to be filled. However, you have to be extra critical in assessing IT applicants because whether we like it or not, it’s technology that makes our world go round nowadays. Having the most complete IT team on board who possesses both technical expertise and soft skills is one of the surest ways to make your company more progressive and attuned to the times.

As you look for your next IT employee, try to look beyond the resume credentials of the applicant. During the screening process, engage them in situational questions or hands-on, practical assessments that will allow you to get to know them more holistically.

TJ Pestano