LinkedIn, GitHub and the good-old-fashioned resume: The pros and pitfalls

Online networks can bring great job opportunities to the skilled IT professional in 2016, writes Andrew Morris, Director at specialist recruiter Robert Half

The digital revolution means anyone can find or post a job online in seconds. Not only job seekers, but employers too, have a number of online tools at their fingertips to find and recruit top talent.

However, before starting a search for a new role or employee, IT candidates and employers need to be aware of the pros - and the pitfalls - of the key platforms at play.

1. LinkedIn

The Pros

It’s highly unlikely that an IT professional is not on LinkedIn these days, making it the go-to platform to build a professional network and look for a new job. Undoubtedly the largest professional social network, LinkedIn currently has over 433 million members worldwide, and boasts more than two new professionals signing up per second. Akin to a virtual networking conference, LinkedIn allows candidates to build and maintain relationships.

The more active a candidate is on the network, the higher the likelihood of a recruiter noticing them. LinkedIn encourages users to share interesting and relevant content, helping them to build professional capability and nurture relationships. Companies and candidates can also write blogs or participate in group conversations, which in turn extends and develops their network.

Candidates can leverage the Intel that LinkedIn provides to make their CV more relevant to prospective employees. LinkedIn regularly releases reports and advice on how to use the platform more effectively. For example, a 2015 report identified the top skills most likely to get candidates hired. IT proficiencies featured in 20 out of 25 of these skills. Job seekers can easily access these reports and tailor their profiles accordingly.

The Pitfalls

As a public interface, candidates need to ensure that their profile is up-to-date, and well curated. If a LinkedIn profile is weak, potential recruiters can question the competence of the candidate, especially IT professionals.

Alternatively, if candidates have a strong profile, it can attract unwanted attention from people outside of their network. Whilst this can be a positive thing if the attention leads to a business opportunity, it can sometimes result in a lot of email spam.

Hiring managers should treat LinkedIn profiles with caution, and always verify the content before hiring. Like a CV, an over-inflated list of achievements should always be checked.

LinkedIn has come under recent attention for data breaches, with the company admitting to another 100 million user accounts being hacked as an extended aftermath of the 2012 breach. Professionals across all sectors need to be vigilant and aware of the potential security risks.

2. GitHub

The Pros

GitHub takes professional networking to the next level: IT candidates and companies can network through collaboration. Whilst the site is primarily an open-source platform to build software, it does have some very real benefits to the IT candidate looking for their next dream role. Developers and programmers are rated on the projects they deliver on the open-source platform, which goes on their permanent record. The more quality projects individuals deliver, the more evidence they have as potential candidates to demonstrate their abilities to future employers.

The platform also has a social networking hub; allowing developers to discuss technologies and, in the course of contributing effectively to forums, extend their professional network and impress potential employers.

As the world’s biggest collection of open source software, it’s an invaluable education tool. Candidates can read the source code to skill up for potential new projects.

The Pitfalls

A little like eBay, the reputation of the individual rests on how others recognise and evaluate the product. If a candidate delivers an outstanding project but never receives a positive evaluation, a potential employer could overlook the work. Conversely, a relatively small project by a competitor could receive greater commendations, meaning the balance gets tipped in their favour.

3. The resume

The Pros

It may seem a little old-school, but the importance of having a well-developed resume should never be underestimated. The vast majority of employers, even in the tech industry, will still request a CV when a candidate applies for a job. It’s critical that the resume is valuable, communicating significant achievements and skills effectively and articulately.

The Pitfalls

CVs that are too long or poorly executed can immediately reduce a candidate’s chances of securing a role. CVs should be 3-4 pages maximum, with the front page presenting a concise overview of skills, experience and key achievements.

Hiring managers will check CVs against LinkedIn and other professional networks, so to avoid questions of integrity, it’s critical that candidates ensure all platforms reflect their CV consistently.

When looking for their next dream job, candidates should view each platform as part of an integrated network. The more relevant platforms are utilised, the greater the chances of an employer discovering and short-listing the candidate for a role. With IT skills in such high demand, the sky’s the limit for the proactive IT candidate.

Andrew Morris is director at specialist recruiter Robert Half.

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