Playing Video Games, Hacking as Career Tools

Young people who spend countless hours playing video games and participating in hackathons may be on to something. Far from wasting time, these people are building valuable job skills, a new report finds.

Staffing firm Robert Half Technology recently polled Chief Information Officers, and found out what kinds of interests they like to see listed in job applications from entry-level IT job seekers.

The top choices include website or app development, video game playing or development and participation in hackathons.

Technology leaders also listed backgrounds outside of IT that are beneficial to professionals in the field. Math was the top response for 36 percent of CIOs, and business and marketing savvy impressed another 31 percent of executives.

“While there’s no substitute for meaningful work experience, highlighting relevant hobbies and activities can be an effective way for new tech graduates to demonstrate their passion for the industry and impress hiring managers,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology.

Robert Half Technology offers these tips for new grads pursuing entry-level IT positions:

  • Tap into your network. Use professional networking sites to connect with people in your ideal industry and ask for informational interviews to learn more about their careers. You can also contact specialized recruiters who can introduce you to local organizations and employers that may be hiring for entry-level roles.
  • Modify your search and application materials. Instead of blasting out resumes, contact specific employers that interest you and customize your resume to their needs. To stay current, follow companies you like on social media to keep up with what the business is doing.
  • Make your case. Draw parallels between your pastimes and how you’ll add value as an employee. Managers are drawn to professionals who are naturally curious and want to learn, so play up those traits during your interview.
  • Showcase your soft skills. IT hiring managers look for people with exceptional interpersonal abilities, like problem solving and communication. When meeting with potential employers, highlight how you’ve collaborated on projects and worked through challenges.
  • Remember the basics. Don’t let a small mistake – like arriving late to an interview or dressing inappropriately – jeopardize your job search. When meeting with hiring managers, come prepared with copies of your resume, a strong handshake and examples of what you can offer if hired.

So, parents who worry that their tech-savvy kids are wasting their lives in useless pursuits may have to adjust their thinking. In reality, their kids may be preparing for lucrative careers.

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