Whether you're looking for a career switch or just starting out in your job search for the first time, you may want to take a little advice from some CEOs– familiarize yourself with computer programming.
In a recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Kirk McDonald, president of advertising technology company PubMatic, wrote that adding the ability to code to your resume isn't just a small change, but rather, it's a skill you can list that could give your job prospects a massive boost. To drive his point home, McDonald took a brash tone, writing to all potential candidates who might apply to his company, "I've got to be honest about some unfortunate news: I'm probably not going to hire you."
McDonald's bold statement was based on the fact that many people don't have the necessary technical skills, including introductory to medium level coding, to get by at a company that is even slightly related to a digital field. He stated that the demand for coding has grown so high that learning how to speak the language of computers can be crucial.
"I don't mean that you need to become genius programmers, the kind who hack into NASA's computers for fun," McDonald wrote. "...What we nonexperts do possess is the ability to know enough about how these information systems work that we can be useful discussing them with others."
McDonald then added an anecdote to supplement his argument. In his scenario, it could be very likely for a client to ask you how long a particular digital project could take. The best way to answer this would be in a language engineers and programmers can understand. If you don't understand the basics of coding, he says, you're much more likely to get caught off your feet at your new job.
"Even if your dream job is in marketing or sales or another department seemingly unrelated to programming, I'm not going to hire you unless you can at least understand the basic way my company works," he wrote. "Teach yourself just enough of the grammar and the logic of computer languages to be able to see the big picture."
McDonald stated that all it takes is familiarity with two or more computer languages – say, APIs and Python – for companies to really take note.
Incorporating these skills into your search
Once you've got a few languages under your belt, it's time to integrate these with the other traits tech companies are looking for. According to KSDK News, companies in St. Louis, one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the country, say that coupling strong interpersonal skills with coding abilities is a major advantage.
One CEO stated he has altered his hiring strategy to include what he calls "the H's," which include when a candidate is humble, honest, hungry and happy. If you can entice your potential employer with your tech skills and then delight them with your zest for a new opportunity and strong social abilities, you're in a good position to find a job in the technology sector.
It also doesn't hurt that the latest projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate computer programming will see some of the swiftest job growth in the country by the end of the decade. Employment of basic computer programmers is expected to increase 12 percent by 2020, while the job outlook for software developers is more than twice that.
By the end of the decade, employment for software engineers is expected to grow 30 percent, as there is no end in sight for the demand for these professionals' services.