Discover how side projects can make you not only more employable, but more promotable.
Whether you’re running an e-commerce site or building websites, most tech professionals have a side hustle these days. It probably began as a way of making some extra cash, or perhaps it was more about pursuing a passion. Whatever the reason, the offshoot of a side project is that you’re spending your spare time developing new skills – skills that you might not have had the chance to develop in your day job – that will ultimately make you more employable and promotable.
Show your passion
Side projects are a good way to show your passion outside of work – it offers prospective employers a more rounded picture of who you are and what makes you tick.
Obviously projects that are closely associated to your choice of career show your passion for the industry. It immediately tells an employer that you consider what you do to be more than just a job. That said, non-profession related side projects help when parallels can be drawn to the role, company or industry in which you’re looking to gain employment.
It’s also important to differentiate what may be viewed as a side project as opposed to conflicting interest. So be sure you present it in a way that it’s viewed as adding value.
Website or app development, running tech meet-ups, gaming, robotics or other engineering-related projects are common among tech professionals, and all are viewed favourably by employers and recruiters. This kind of side hustle shows an individual’s desire to be immersed in technology, while also demonstrating their proactive approach to the industry they’re passionate about – something that’s always well regarded by prospective employers.
When it comes to more functional roles, we’re always interested in seeing candidates improving their business knowledge through involvement in club or business committees, or examples of personal entrepreneurships. Taking part in activities outside of your comfort zone – taking part in public speaking engagements, Toastmasters or even the occasional stand-up gig – will be viewed favourably, particularly in the new world of IT, where IT you’re expected to be a leader, not just fix the WiFi.
Show your softer side
Beyond the constant improvement in your capability to perform the expected technical function of the role, you also need to pay attention to building your ‘softer’ skills. More so than ever, technology-related roles require individuals to have a strong appreciation of the company they work in and a clear idea of how their role is adding value, usually through enabling an increase in sales revenue or reducing cost. This knowledge comes through a desire to increase this understanding and the ability to engage with business stakeholders.
Remember, while your education and experience may get your foot in the door, it’s your soft skills that keep them open. Your work ethic, communication skills and emotional intelligence are the soft skills crucial for a successful career.
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By Alex Jones, IT/Technology Director, Randstad
I'm proud to have been working for Randstad Technologies for over 10 years, with a focus on driving continuous and accelerated growth of the organisation across the Asia-Pacific Region. I consider coaching and mentoring leaders in the business as one of the most rewarding parts of my role.