Written by: Justyna Cichocka, Employer Branding Specialist
When skimming through job ads, we can’t help but notice a number of requirements that do not truly seem indispensable for a given position. Is it absolutely necessary for everyone in the 21st century to have a college degree, and on top of that, a technical one? Is a minimum of 3 years of experience a must, since one can at times learn more in a single year when working on a highly demanding project that incorporates a vast array of different technologies and tools? If you want to learn what matters most these days and what employers look for when recruiting, then keep reading!
Well, this one’s highly arguable. In ads for programmers or testers, “technical higher education” pops up most often as one of the first requirements. So, when it comes to recruiting developers, is education really key? Well, yes and no. From the recruiter’s point of view, technical education brings a broader overview of projects, making the applicant more knowledgeable not only in terms of the technology or language most commonly used, but also in terms of the ease of learning new stuff. A vocational title, whether a Master’s or Engineer’s, simply isn’t the magic ticket to being offered a job.
Are candidates with no higher education turned down? Hardly. Education is by no means the decisive factor in determining the outcome of recruitment. Relevant, for sure, but not conclusive.
The web may be ruthless sometimes – it is not rare to come across memes making fun of recruiters expecting 5 years of experience in technology that has been on the market only for 3. Of course, those are rare instances, but it’s always worth checking whether the right number has been entered in the ad.
So, how do we tackle the experience thing in adverts? First of all, no need to stick to the exact numbers. If the ad says 5 years of experience and you have 3-4, then go ahead and apply. Sometimes people with fewer years of experience fare much better than their more senior colleagues with theoretically greater know-how. Knowledge and skills happen to be crucial, so it is worthwhile to get them across during the interview.
Occasionally one may encounter opinions on the web suggesting that soft skills in the job of an engineer, programmer, or tester are hardly vital. In fact, some even might say that these are utterly useless. Well, nothing could be more mistaken. Each person working in a team, even the smallest one, should possess and develop soft competencies – especially those of communication. With remote working on the rise in popularity, communication gains a whole new meaning. Since we do not meet in person every day, meetings are held via IM and most of the time with a camera off. A talk is not only about words, it also involves gestures and body language – and during a quick call with a teammate, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll see those.
The high importance of soft skills has been indicated in the report by the Infuture Institute Employee of the Future (Infuture Institute Pracownik przyszłości,) which reads:
On the basis of quantitative and qualitative data obtained from the employees and specialists involved in the labor market, it may be predicted that the key competencies of the future will include, apart from the indicated skills in the area of sciences, the so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), as well as: the ability to actively learn, creativity, the ability to share knowledge, cooperation with others, a problem-solving attitude, critical thinking, or negotiation skills. At the same time, it should be stressed that as soft skills are typically human and will not be automated (or at least not any time soon), they will become the most important for the employees of the future.
Is soft skills development a worthy goal? Most definitely. Are they worth boasting about? Totally! With all that in mind, why not reconsider your career path – if you already have these skills, then maybe a team leader position would be perfect for you. Just some food for thought!
So, what matters most during a job interview? There’s really no definite answer. Although it’s worth bearing in mind that there are always other people on the other side of the table – the candidate, the recruiter, the engineer – your prospective boss or teammate, who will be there to help you get through the process smoothly. A job interview is not some sort of hearing to tick off all the points on the recruiter’s list, nor do recruiters aim to look for your weaknesses. They really want to hire you and work together.