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Staying ahead in the competitive job market for high tech industries

Posted on 31/12/2013

With the economy picking up and mid-year bonuses being distributed, many people may now be considering moving onto greener pastures. The high technology industry sector is usually a complex one, and in some cases, senior level placements are not advertised in the usual channels. So, how can you find out about new job opportunities in the technology sector and find your dream job?

Finding new job opportunities

Everyone is familiar with channels such as classified advertisements, internal job boards, trade press or job websites. However, in some cases, senior level positions are never advertised, as the company prefers to source for candidates on a selective basis. In other instances, high technology jobs are so unique that they are not advertised in the usual routes.

Networking

Rather than leaving the responsibility in the hands of the employing organisation, it is better to be proactive, and use your own networking skills to identify new career opportunities. Who do you know in other companies in your area of expertise that may be aware of openings? What companies are actually growing in your particular sector? Sometimes it may be the SMEs that are taking on new talents from larger organisations that are restructuring. Other times, it may be the MNCs that are expanding, as they merge or acquire other companies.

Conferences and exhibitions are a useful venue for networking, particularly if the event focuses on your technology sector. Alternatively, networking can be done on a smaller scale, through face-to-face meetings, or a friendly chat over drinks. Virtual networking is also increasing in popularity, through sites such as Linked-in. These online websites give you the opportunity to link up with new business contacts, build networks with your existing contacts and widen your network on a national and international basis. Your background and skill sets are easily identifiable to those who are seeking talent (with the advantage of not looking like you are trying to get a new job if you are currently in employment). Remember to check out discussion boards, which sometimes advertise job opportunities or a need for expertise in a specific area.

Executive search firms

Executive search organisations, particularly those that specialise in your industry sector, have the advantage of knowing what is going on in the industry across a wide range of companies. They are aware of senior positions in the market, some of which are not openly advertised externally and can help you to market yourself to potential employers. Those with global offices can widen the search internationally, if you are willing to relocate. To source for the right executive search firm, check with your acquaintances which firms they rate, or contact headhunters directly to find which you are comfortable with.

Applying for opportunities

Once you have found the right job opportunity, now comes the more challenging part – applying for the job. When brushing up your CV, do remember that frequently a non-technical HR person may be the first to review it. So do not flood your CV with technical jargon or use abbreviations, which may not be known by those outside the technology sector. Instead be clear about what you have achieved and when, as well as your roles and responsibilities. Key information needs to be presented in a clear and succinct format in the first 1 – 2 pages. Although it is important to make your CV stand out, most technology companies prefer to see well-structured content without distractions, such as many different colours or unusual fonts. A brief profile at the beginning, summing up your experience and key skills in 3 – 4 sentences is often a good idea. Tailor your CV, or at least your covering letter, to the role for which you are applying and highlight experience which is relevant to that role.

If you have been networking appropriately and have a great CV, you should be able to get that coveted interview and it is important to keep up the good work by preparing yourself well. A background internet search on the company and news articles relating to it will improve your chances of success. If you have a presentation make sure you have prepared it with plenty of time for rehearsal. Firm handshakes and first impressions are important, so dress appropriately. In some cases this could be a suit and tie, for example if you are applying for a senior management role in a major MNC pharmaceutical. In others cases, it could be more casual, if you want to fit in as a product developer, in a young up and coming IT start-up.

Thinking laterally

Sometimes there are other alternatives and it is always good to demonstrate some flexibility. If your technology sector or market is not doing so well, can you transfer your skills to another? For example, employers within the medical devices sector are frequently willing to take on those with experience in the semiconductor industry. Are you willing to relocate? Many pharmaceutical companies are moving R&D and manufacturing operations to China and need experienced and skilled individuals. Would you consider working for a contract organisation, particularly as more high tech companies are outsourcing specialised functions? If your skills do not transfer well to that sort of environment, you may wish to get involved in more cross functional projects within your own organisation, to gain the experience. What about interim management, where experienced professionals take on operational or strategic assignments on a short term basis. Interim managers need to be able to stomach some risk, as they operate on a freelance basis, and are typically self-employed.

And finally, the most importantly tip when looking for a new position, stay positive and driven, and you will achieve your goal.

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