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The ONE skill that will radically boost your job success

Woman in tech shaking hands, job success concept

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Roxy Law, Senior Talent Solutions Manager at Robert Half, offers insights on how candidates, especially women in tech, can enhance their chances of success through tailored CVs, effective cover letters, and polished interview techniques.

With three in four IT hiring managers remaining optimistic that their companies will grow in 2024 – with half looking to bolster their perm headcount alongside the 35% who foresee a need for more temp staff – the jobs market for IT and tech talent in the UK remains buoyant.

While these headline figures from our 2024 Salary Guide will be great news for those with the most relevant, in demand skills, competition for places will still be tough, so you need to perform at interview. Here we look at some of the key ways women – and anyone – in tech can boost their chances of landing that coveted job.

Employers and hiring managers will of course expect candidates to possess the right set of skills, whether that be expertise in cloud computing, ERP implementation or cyber security. But to really differentiate yourself from others who are also looking to impress, you must not overlook interpersonal attributes such as relationship management (with stakeholders and vendors alike). Employers are placing great importance on so-called ‘soft’ skills as they want to hire people who are comfortable working in teams and collaborating with colleagues, as well as being highly organised.

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There is, however, one skill that is arguably the most important of all, which will not only land you an interview but subsequently help you to progress beyond this stage. From the moment you set your heart on applying for a job and start working on your CV and covering letter, you’re already showcasing your communication skills (in this case in written form), which our research shows is top of the soft-skills wish list for today’s tech employers. If you make it through to the next interview stage, you will then need to articulate and discuss what you’ve written as you argue your case for candidacy in order to impress the interviewer(s).

You must dedicate time to CVs and covering letters. Resist the temptation to cut corners and simply use a standard template. This is what most candidates will do, so by tailoring it to the job in question, you’re already standing out. Cover letters are a great way to expand on your personal statement and let the company know why you’re right for the job and want to work for them. Study the job description carefully and incorporate any relevant keywords. And make sure you check your spelling as any typos (especially names) will be picked up and could prove detrimental.  

Setting yourself up for interview success

The interview will make or break your chances of landing the job. This is why you should practise a trial or mock rehearsal with a friend or family member if you feel you need a little bit of extra preparation beforehand. The other important aspect is to think about competency based questions as these will inevitably be thrown in to test you. And typically, they will focus on your communication, ability to work as a team, stakeholder engagement attributes and other ‘soft’ skills, so prepare answers in advance of the interview which includes examples where you have previously demonstrated these qualities.

For those in a senior role or a position where the job involves managing people and teams, the same approach applies, as you will undoubtedly be asked about your management style and how you get the best out of your teams. Communication will again be a critical component of success and you might need to touch on areas such as delegation, feedback and appraisals. The flipside of the communication coin is listening, allowing others to convey their viewpoints, and creating a supportive environment to enable them to open up to you to resolve any issue that might be upsetting them.

There will likely be some skills that you feel you need to improve on, so prepare for the ‘what is an area of weakness’ (don’t say you’re a workaholic!) question in advance. The trick here is to show the interviewer that you’re taking concrete steps to address areas you know you can improve on. For example, you might want to get better at managing upwards, being more assertive or your organisation skills. From a technical point of view, it’s important to keep up with all the latest tech developments and ensure you’re spending time honing your skills. Make sure you’re monitoring the most in-demand skills and qualifications in the market through external research as you may need to change direction.

You have the knowledge, qualifications and experience to do the job. To increase your prospects of success, you must customise your CV, fine-tune your covering letter and polish your interview technique. This comes down to clear and effective communication, a skill that you will have to rely on every single day of your working life. And finally, when the interview dawns, enjoy the experience and let your personality shine through. Non-verbal attributes such as facial expressions and body language can also make a big difference. There is no escaping the power of communication in whatever form it takes. With employers looking for tech professionals with the ability to effectively communicate, demonstrate why you’re the best person for the job by communicating this far and wide.  

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