Techies: Congrats! You’re finally cool. :-)

With a plethora of job openings in the tech sector, it should come as no surprise that those who once thought they would rather do anything else but program code or work with “tech” (much less hang out with those who do) are now suddenly changing their tune. It also doesn’t hurt that the title of “geek” or “techie” is suddenly something cool, thanks to the rise of innovators like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

As a result, job postings are being flooded with wannabes. You know, those English majors who now want to be computer science geeks (hey, they probably did read a lot of sci-fi growing up…) and work for some trendy Silicon Valley startup so they can blog about it. (As an English major myself, I reserve the right to poke fun.)

The impact this has on the market, though, is that it slows the hiring process and makes hiring managers throw up their hands and say, “there’s a shortage of talent.” [I would argue that most likely these companies are also ill equipped to handle the hiring process properly and just give up after skimming through the 500th communications major resume. (For more on this, check out my earlier post, “From the Corporate Goo to the Tech Job Market Zoo“.)]

All hope is not lost for the true techie, however. A recent article by CNN Money, called “Why getting into tech isn’t as easy as you think“, outlines some of the hurdles these crossover candidates are facing. For one thing, they need to be aware that the tech industry has its own set of rules and skill sets that are particular to it, and they must demonstrate that they can maneuver through it.

So, all of this should be good news for techies, then, right?

Well, in the midst of all these non-techies trying to break into the industry, those candidates with tech experience must tread carefully. Here are two important things to consider:

  1. Cultural fit is increasingly important to employers. It might seem like a buzz phrase or passing trend, but “cultural fit” in the 2014 job market will be a key factor. That means, essentially, that techies need to work on their soft skills. It’s not just enough to have that IBM background or Cisco certification; now you need to demonstrate you can move within the environment the employer has, which is not always an easy sell for a group who tends to be more introverted. This is an area where your non-tech wannabes can have some advantage. If they can demonstrate that they can be innovative and learn the lingo, they might edge out someone with a more technical background for a management or less hands-on tech role based on their ability to meet the “cultural fit.”
  2. Think business opportunity when showcasing skill sets. Here at NoddlePlace, this is a big part of our mantra to our clients. It’s not always just about what certification you have. You need to be able to take that credential and show how you can use it to increase business efficiency and value. In other words, you need to be aware of what the business does, what problems it has, and how you can use your tech skills to make it better. Then you need to articulate that. So, no more hiding in the cubicle in the corner hoping management will “get” your value. It doesn’t work that way. What most likely happens is that management thinks it doesn’t have the right talent or that it isn’t out there.