saying you’re a self-starter isn’t enough – where’s the proof?

09/05/2016 10:49:17

Even though the job market for IT professionals is strong, that doesn’t mean that corporate IT managers aren’t demanding when it comes to assessing and hiring IT staff. Many IT managers are finding themselves having to do more with less – which means the costs of making a hiring mistake have never been greater.

One characteristic IT hiring managers are looking for more than ever from their job candidates is self-motivation. Given the speed of change in technology and intense competitive pressures, it’s often not enough just to have the right skills; you’ve got to be able to prove you’ll take the initiative to keep growing professionally and honing your knowledge to keep up with rapidly evolving technologies.

In a recent series of interviews we conducted with IT managers involved in their firm’s hiring process, here’s some of what we heard:

“We run a lean structure, so there’s always opportunity to show how you can step-up.”

“People need to take responsibility for their own development. If they show desire, then I support them; if they don’t then I’m not jumping in.”

“There are always going to be skills to learn in tech. You have to want to continue to develop…”

“To make it, people need to take ownership, be able to work on their own, know what to do next.”

It’s not enough to say you’re a self-starter or to add it as a personal characteristic on your resume, you’ve got to be able to prove it. Spend time thinking about how you would augment a resume or answer an interviewer’s questions that would illustrate your self-motivation. Here are some thoughts.

  • Continuing to refine your technical skills and add new ones has never been more important. Many organizations have cut their training budgets and now expect their IT workers to teach themselves new skills. Learning a technical skill that can help an employer enhances your value and illustrates self-motivation.
  • Highlight tasks and achievements that demonstrate your persistence and eye for detail.
  • Point out times you have volunteered for assignments that were challenging and/or time constrained.
  • Are there examples when your initiative resulted in new processes, revenues, cost-efficiencies, improved productivity, solutions to thorny problems, etc.?
  • Provide examples of times you have worked with little or no supervision – or had to take on the supervisory role yourself.

If you haven’t been working for long, or just haven’t accumulated enough examples of self-motivation, consider some actions you might take:

  • Take an online course and acquire a certification in a highly demanded or emerging technical field.
  • Join an organization related to your work field and participate in their activities.
  • If you’re a decent writer, consider starting a blog that offers regular insight into your field of expertise.
  • Volunteer for a work assignment – don’t be afraid to fail.

The pace of change shows no signs of abating anytime soon. Self-driven, skilled individuals – who can offer proof of their moxie, will find themselves with more and better career options.