Main image of article 4 Ways to Boost Your Marketability Amidst COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the country, the fact that companies are still hiring technologists is good news. 

Dice spoke with recruiters who are still making placements, albeit after adjusting to changes in the market. For example, it takes more to turn the head of a hiring manager or corporate recruiter now that they are receiving 30 résumés for an open position instead of the usual five to 10, acknowledged Chris Allaire, president of Averity, a tech recruiting firm based in New York City.

From your online presence to the interview and offer stage, below are some tips for making yourself more attractive to employers in an ever-changing job market.

Cut to the Chase

When a hiring manager is bombarded with résumés from candidates who appear to be over-qualified or under-qualified for a position, they start looking for reasons to screen people out, not in. 

“Reviewers are no longer willing to wade through dozens of bullet points that talk about how you used C programming language 25 years ago,” added Albert Squiers, director of technology practice at Fuel Talent. 

If you’re not hearing from recruiters or landing interviews, an online presence that emphasizes outdated photos, keywords and obsolete technology could be the culprit. 

To survive the revival and expansion of the 30-second rule for online vetting, make sure your profiles, résumé, code samples and portfolio succinctly highlight experience with in-demand technologies such as Docker, Kubernetes and Amazon Web Services. If you’re a developer, spin up a GitHub profile and contribute to open-source projects there. 

Avoid soon-to-be cliché attributes that everyone else is using, such as “inventive” and “resilient,” advised Lisa Rangel, CEO of Chameleon Resumes. Instead, describe your resourcefulness and ability to thrive under ambiguous circumstances by citing specific examples and successes.

Focus on concrete, measurable personal contributions rather than team achievements, and always use facts and data to support your bragging points. Also, given the shift to remote work, highlighting your remote work experience, team leadership and office setup may put you ahead of other applicants.

Find the Hot Spots

Scoring an offer under the current conditions imposed by COVID-19 requires forward-thinking, reframing your skillset, and potentially pivoting to a new industry.

For instance, at companies that are used to working with remote teams “it’s business as usual,” Allaire said. They are still hiring new software and DevOps engineers despite the economic uncertainty.   

“However, new business models and ideas will come out of this that don’t exist today,” Rangel noted.  

Make your job search more efficient by figuring out which companies and industries will need someone like you in a post-COVID world. 

For instance, we’ve already seen a shift toward telemedicine and distance learning, and the apparel, travel and manufacturing industries are making big changes, as well. Moreover, studies show that the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing some companies toward rapid digital transformation.

Focus on companies where you can make an impact and position yourself as a bold problem solver who can help pivot a company into new markets and revenue streams to stay ahead of competitors.

Don’t Wing It

When qualified pros were hard to come by, hiring managers were willing to cut busy candidates some slack when it came to interview prep. Now, they expect candidates to have a firm grasp of the company’s business model, products and tech stack, and to come up with the correct answers to technical questions. 

To ace high-stakes behavioral questions, Squiers recommends that you write out the answers and previous experience you want to emphasize ahead of time using the S.T.A.R. technique. Hone your storytelling abilities by practicing with a partner. Prepare for technical questions by studying resources such as Cracking the Coding Interview and practicing on HackerRank.

Some hiring managers are struggling to find the right person because they don’t know what skills they will need going forward. They’re also questioning whether the shift to remote work will be short-term or permanent, Allaire explained.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce uncertainty and nudge the hiring manager along. Research the potential impact of COVID-19 on the company and how it could establish new priorities such as cloud migration, IT modernization, data security, privacy and so forth. Then, during the job interview, be ready to explain how you can contribute to those efforts. Exhibit confidence and show that can achieve anything you put your mind to.

Prepare Your References

Under these trying circumstances, tech managers have become more cautious about extending an offer. They are thoroughly vetting candidates, verifying their claims and checking references. “Have your references ready to go,” Squiers said. “Recently, managers have been putting positions on hold when the candidate wasn’t able to provide an immediate reference.”