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Good news for IT job seekers. Those hours spent behind a PlayStation controller weren't wasted after all.
Apart from the IT skills listed on a resume or LinkedIn profile, businesses looking to fill technology positions are also paying attention to the hobbies of job candidates. The staffing specialists at Robert Half Technology recently polled more than 2,500 CIOs in the U.S. to uncover some of the tech-related activities that catch their eye.
Half of all respondents said new graduates looking for their first IT job can increase their appeal by highlighting their website or app development hobbies. Employers are also keen on candidates who play or develop video games (24 percent) and take part in hackathons (17 percent). Creating new inventions with Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards (15 percent) can also catch the attention of prospective employers.
"While there's no substitute for meaningful work experience, highlighting relevant hobbies and activities can be an effective way for new tech graduates to demonstrate their passion for the industry and impress hiring managers," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement. "And for some initiatives, like artificial intelligence, leaders are seeking employees from a variety of backgrounds."
Having a background in other fields can also improve a candidate's chances of landing an IT job.
More than a third (36 percent) of CIOs said a background in mathematics is a competitive advantage when pursuing a technology role. Employers are also on the lookout for candidates with experience in business or marketing (31 percent), liberal arts (22 percent) and psychology (10 percent).
Highlighting the skills gathered from non-IT disciplines can help. "Aspiring technology professionals from a different field of study should make clear to potential employers how their skill sets will help them be successful in the roles they pursue," Reed said.
To help fill entry-level IT positions with well-rounded talent, hiring managers are advised to look past previous jobs and the subjects they studied at school.
"If you focus only on professional accomplishments, you may overlook applicants who are innovative, passionate about technology and motivated to expand their skills," Reed added. "There can be great value in training a promising candidate who could potentially become a top player on your team."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.