Getting a digital tech job isn’t just about your professional experience, but what you do in your own time. Hays’ Adam Shapley suggests four activities you can do outside of work to boost your chances.
Are you looking for your first or next digital technology job? Then your extracurricular activities (those you undertake in your downtime outside of work) will be closely examined by employers.
Why? Today’s tech employers aren’t just looking for someone who ticks all the boxes on a job description; they want to see people who see their role as a ‘craft’ that they nurture, develop and cultivate in their own time in order to keep their skills relevant and moving forward.
In a rapidly changing economy, it is more important than ever to stay up to date in your industry. Keeping up with the latest technology trends and developments is important if you already have a job, and it is imperative if you are looking to make your next career move.
Employers are looking for candidates who show the dedication and devote their time to keep themselves current in the tech industry.
By improving your knowledge and staying up to date with the latest best practices, you will be able to advance in your current role or take advantage of new opportunities. However, we know this is easier said than done.
Here are four tips on the extracurricular activities you can do outside of work that will help keep your skills up to date and employable in today’s rapidly advancing world of work.
Attend events (or even speak at one)
Industry events are often the best way to stay on top of trends. Each event is different, with distinct topics and speakers, so you are bound to sharpen your expertise and learn something new.
Conferences, workshops and meet-ups are a valuable way to learn about the latest technologies, industry trends and hotspots.
It’s also a great way to network and get to know people in your industry. You can often get a really good idea of what’s new and important in just a day because the information provided is highly curated and relevant.
If you’re an expert in your field, why not submit a proposal to present at one of these events? Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge, no matter how general or specific your topic of expertise is.
Speaking at events is also the best way to affirm your technical and presentation skills to potential employers.
Connect at a meet-up
If you’re after something smaller and less formal, meet-ups are another way you can stay connected with the tech community and garner new skills.
At a meet-up, you will find a mix of tech professionals, employers and recruiters who get together to discuss all things tech-related – innovation, challenges and solutions.
It is a great opportunity to learn, network and make friends with other tech lovers. You can search for local meet-ups in your area here.
Be part of an online community
The most obvious benefit of joining an online community is the potential to pool experience and expertise with thousands of tech experts from all around the world.
Some examples of popular online tech communities you could join include GitHub, where you can host and review code, manage projects, and build software with like-minded individuals.
Stack Overflow is another popular forum for developers. These platforms allow you to collaborate and share ideas with other developers, users and organisations, and discover innovative solutions to your tech challenges.
Fine-tune your problem-solving skills at a hackathon
What better way to get creative and showcase your programming skills than through participating in a hackathon with other programmers?
Often, these events are sponsored by big-name companies, so it can also provide a unique opportunity to showcase your technical skills. You might even score an interview afterwards – it’s not unheard of.
If you’re just starting out in your career, participating in a hackathon will give you great experience and also help you stand out from the crowd when looking for your next role.
Whether it’s attending a conference, networking at a meet-up or problem-solving at a hackathon, employers want to see you are taking control of your career and willing to turn it into a ‘craft’.
These extracurricular activities will differentiate you in the job market and give you a competitive advantage.
As a member of the operations management team across Australia and New Zealand, Shapley is responsible for the strategic direction of the Hays Information Technology specialism across the region.
A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.