Table Talk: What makes someone a compelling hire?

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.