Yesterday I took part in a discussion at a Table Talk session for Microsoft Ignite on what makes a compelling hire. My co-hosts were Lars Klint, Robert Crane, Hamish Watson, Janaka Rangama (thanks to Lars for the screenshot below). A huge thanks also to everyone who joined in and to my lovely co-hosts.
The chat was lively and some of the excellent answers and advice follow:
Certifications help get you the interview, not the job
Certifications are second to the value of the knowledge and skills that you can demonstrate
- There is an excellent YouTube series by Tim Warner (MVP) which is “just what the doctor ordered” for AZ 900.
- If you are looking to switch roles then start as a side gig. Get your own azure subscription and play with that. Write a blog and show off your skills. If you are a dev then get a github account and demo your stuff there.
- One of the participants asked “I’m familiar with git, maybe I should add that to the resume, I assumed it was almost assumed” – never assume anything, always make it clear what skills you have
If seeking to switch career roles then understand what the skills are that you need for the new position and find a way to use them in a real project (even a personal side project).
- As you progress in your career your skills should become a T-shaped – “the person with “T-shaped” skills has deep skills in a single domain as well, but also possesses breadth across multiple disciplines.” (check out this post for an explanation of T-shaped skills)
- Suggested meetups and tech communities where you can connect with like-minded people. One question was how to network during Covid, here is a podcast with some great ideas for how to do networking during Covid
- General recommendation to go to Microsoft Learn – there are fabulous training materials there
- late addition from a friend on Twitter – “Key words also important. pain point might be Git or Azure DevOps or Splunk etc that recruiters are searching on.”
- Follow the ongoing discussion here
My thoughts on the matter
For me ability to execute is key. A smart person can learn a new coding language relatively easily, but it is challenging to teach the ability to deliver and execute.
I always try to hire people who are smart and who get things done. I do not always hire for skills. For example, a smart person who already knows one programming language, can usually pick up another one pretty easily.
Another thing is certifications, they are just a guidepost, what I am really interested in is skills. So our team is always trying new ways that we can assess skills for new hires.