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Tech jobs are there for the taking. About 85,000 of them on this continent, anyway, according to Dice.com. USA Today says the fastest-growing areas are jobs using iPhone-related skills, cloud computing, mobile applications and Android know-how.
But how do you land one of those jobs? You may in fact be the smartest guy or gal in the room, but that won’t mean much if you don’t dazzle in the interview—and we don’t just mean charming the pants off the interviewer. Even though tech jobs are plentiful, getting an offer can still require jumping through all manner of fire rings.
Here’s how to stand above your competition:
Pump up your resume
The boring way to write a resume? Tick off your education, jobs and programming languages in bullet points—bam, bam, bam!
The road less traveled: take that app you developed and explain how you can build one to help make the company you want to work for better. “We’re looking for people who can articulate their experience and communicate clearly what they bring to the party,” Cheri Ott, GM’s director of human resources for global information technology, wrote in a Dice.com post.
But before you even touch that resume, do a little research. (Okay, a lot of research.) Ott tells Susan Hall of Dice.com that candidates should start at the company’s website and use the job descriptions as a guide.
So what if you’ve got a ton of white space on that resume? Hall says companies like GM don’t consider lack of experience a deal-breaker. “Any school experience, internships, maybe you managed a project in a fraternity—all of that counts. GM wants people who have initiative, a strong work ethic, a desire to make a difference and want to learn,” Hall writes.
And if you describe yourself as creative, Hall notes, come to the interview ready to back that up—to show that creativity.
Get the cloud straight
As much as people toss around the term “cloud computing” these days, few people really know exactly what it is. This is one thing you want to have nailed down when you walk into an interview, writes David Linthicum.
In this post, he details three questions you’re likely to have thrown at you, and a little cheat sheet for answering them. “Hiring good people is a tough thing to do, especially when the technology is still emerging,” he says.
The thing about tech interviews is that they often come with a little practical exam: coding on the spot. “Not all companies let you do algorithms during the interview, but some, like Microsoft, often do,” says Isabel Schafer on BusinessInsider.com.
So give yourself at least 10 hours of coding practice before you walk into an interview. “Join a programming team, find coding questions online or in specialized books,” Schafer advises.
Shine with your soft skills
Just because you’re applying for a tech job doesn’t mean you need to take yourself too seriously. Show your passion for the work. Dominic Mazzoni, a software engineer at Google, told Brazen it doesn’t really matter why it lights your fire, so long as it does.
“Some people love programming because they like building tools that help others. Some love the challenge. Some love the creativity,” he says. “Some love optimization, some love writing beautiful code. Express your passion for some technical area and you’ll be someone I want to have on my team.”
Mastering the work like a drone? That’s no fun at all.
Gigi Douban is an independent journalist who writes often about business and tech.