According to industry experts, companies are looking for candidates with strong IT job skills who will not only keep their companies abreast of new technologies, but who will also save them money by spotting inefficiencies and using technology to streamline and eliminate problems.
"These companies want people who will see where their companies are wasting money and come up with ways to help them save millions," said Bob Moore, a hiring consultant and recruiter for technology companies in Southern California. "If you have that kind of experience on your resume, you'll be in great demand."
In short, companies are looking for a number of qualities. Here are the top five characteristics companies are looking for in IT candidates:
"You have to be able to have a high-level conversation with other programmers and managers, but also be able to talk to the lay person who doesn't understand the technology, but needs to use the system," Moore said.
IT jobs such as setting up and maintaining a computer system usually involve a complex array of hardware, such as routers and servers and software, and any IT professional needs to be a methodical, logic-oriented worker capable of zeroing on solutions and system improvements. Recruiters typically ask candidates how they've handled difficult problems in their previous jobs, and they listen carefully to hear how methodical the candidate is in explaining how the issue is solved, Moore said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many IT professional are called on to work more than 40 hours a week, although many can do at least some work from home.
Along with a college degree, employers are also looking at such IT job skills as a candidate's professional certifications, which are offered through product vendors, computer associations, and other training institutions. Computer network architects and database administrators should have a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, although some employers prefer applicants with an MBA with a concentration in information systems. IT job candidates with courses in finance, marketing, accounting, and management, as well as database management, electronic business, and systems management and design really shine.
"They don't want someone who leaves his or her IT job every year," Moore said. "They want to see a good range of experience, but they also want to see some stability in your IT jobs history."
One of the most important interview tips for IT professionals: show a willingness to learn. Moore says that companies are more likely to hire a candidate with less experience if he or she demonstrates the ability to learn on the job.