Although there have been recent layoffs at tech companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, and Meta Recruiters, don’t expect this pattern to continue outside the tech industry.
Rucha Vancoudre, senior economist at Lightcast, a labor and analytics firm, said many tech companies are hiring during the pandemic to meet consumer demand for digital devices in entertainment, marketing, education and work. As life and work shift to pre-pandemic spending and behavior patterns, companies are reducing headcount accordingly and freeing up resources to pursue new business opportunities that may have existed or emerged during the pandemic. In short, regarding layoffs, Vancoudre said, “It looks pretty good (for the tech industry) right now.”
Use soft skills in your job search
Job seekers should anticipate that with layoffs comes competition in the job market and be strategic in order to stand out.
Instead of looking for another job at a tech company, candidates should look beyond the tech industry for higher pay and work-life balance. Candidates should actively market themselves and use their transferable soft skills in their job search.
Soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and values are highly transferable across industries and can often be the difference between landing a job interview and an offer.
A study by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and the Stanford Research Center found that 85 percent of career success can be attributed to hard soft and people skills, with 15 percent coming from hard skills. If this study was conducted in 1918, we’ve known for over a century that soft skills are critical in the workplace.
Let’s take a look at 3 ways tech candidates can identify and promote their flexible soft skills to help them position themselves for jobs outside of their previous industries.
1. Ask your colleagues and close friends to give us feedback
Chances are you don’t know or doubt what soft skills you have. That’s why asking current and former coworkers and managers can be an enlightening and confidence-building tool.
Ask them what your best soft skills are and give an example of seeing those skills in action. Or, you can ask them which 3 words describe you in the workplace. The answers may surprise you, in a good way!
2. Study job descriptions to find and prioritize your skills
Job descriptions contain clues to help you know what skills you have, and you should highlight them when applying for a role. But if you don’t read and study the job description, you won’t get these clues. Although job descriptions aren’t always well written, that doesn’t give you permission not to read them.
If you’re thinking of applying for a job, make a list of specific skills. If you have that skill, identify concrete examples of how you’ve used that skill in previous roles. Proving your skills in action is more powerful than just saying you have skills.
If you’re looking for opportunities in other industries and haven’t yet decided to apply, use this as an opportunity to ask yourself if you have the soft skills the employer is looking for. Don’t let a lack of hard skills close the door to applying for jobs in a variety of industries. It is often easier to teach hard skills (such as software or technical knowledge) than to teach soft skills.
3. Focus on your soft skills in your career materials and interviews
Put yourself in the shoes of recruiters and hiring managers, they’re busy and don’t have time to read every word on your resume or LinkedIn profile. That’s why it’s so important to be careful about communicating your soft skills at every opportunity before you apply and during the interview process.
- On your report, Tailor the skills you’ve listed to each role you’re applying for. This can be as simple as reordering the content of your resume to highlight the soft skills mentioned in the job description. Or, it could mean providing different examples of your skills in action.
- In your letter, Don’t forget to highlight a maximum of three soft skills mentioned in the job description and provide examples from your past experience.
- On your LinkedIn profile, Use your headline, byline, and about section to convey your soft skills.
- During the interview, Remember the top soft skills mentioned so you can focus on covering examples from past roles to your answers.
Although employers seem to focus more on hard skills, don’t discount how your soft skills translate to other industries and roles. A project manager who has worked in technology for 10 years can easily leverage their experience at a large financial institution, hospital or airline.
Hard skills like software and methods change, but soft skills are timeless. Candidates who can successfully convey the right soft skills for the roles they are applying for are more likely to stand out in a crowded candidate market.