Weeks upon weeks of rabid procrastination and pondering the merits of ” things IT blogging” got me absolutely nowhere. I’m a sociable guy, fairly well-educated, and read a lot of technology blogs myself to keep on top of current industry trends – yet I could not force myself to sit down and write my first blog. Call it writer’s block if you wish, but I’d like to refer to my condition as “lack of interesting anecdotes about a horribly boring topic-itis”. I can’t recall a single noteworthy event in my entire professional IT career that would produce a semi-interesting read for Joe Everybody…until last week. Proof positive that procrastination does indeed pay if you wait long enough (see what I did there?).
The world of IT is saturated with a mind-numbing variety of acronyms that would induce seizures in even the most diehard Scrabble fan. As an IT professional, your resume officially looks like an explosion at an alphabet factory interrupted by brief bits of normal sentence structure. A literal nerd porn nirvana to the nth degree. We’re rightfully proud of our various experiences and achievements, and we tend to drone on and on and on to sell ourselves as the right candidate for the job. Kudos to you if you can get your foot in the door for the -important client meeting based on the merits of your alphabet soup, but what happens when a non-IT person runs across your CV? Roughly 11 times out of 10 it’s the equivalent of pure, unabridged terror.
Fast forward to last Thursday morning – my alphabet soup landed me in an interview with one of the largest software companies in the world for some contract consulting work. I’d survived the intense telephone interrogation from the upstream IT manager, my last remaining task to land the contract was a face-to-face interview with mangers from HR and Operations – the decisively “not IT” crowd. The two very pleasant ladies sitting across the huge conference room table briefly scanned over my CV, put it down, and asked a few questions about my professional experiences. We had a pleasant chat about their corporate culture, the weather, my experience living abroad, hobbies and interests outside of work, my favorite shade of lipstick – absolutely everything except my IT background. It was obvious they simply weren’t going to go there. After the interview was completed and business cards were exchanged, the Operations Manager told me jokingly that they had to ask some personal questions about non work-related topics just to make sure I was human and not a robot.
We had a hearty laugh and I left the building, giving myself a mental high-five for scoring the client interview and knocking it out of the ballpark. It wasn’t until after I got home and had a few quiet moments alone that I realized the true depth of their parting statement…I totally come off on paper as a personality-devoid robot with zero interests or hobbies outside of plug-in gadgets. I obviously had the technical chops to land the IT Manager’s phone interview, but the face-to-face interview’s sole purpose was to see me as a person instead of an antisocial who’s spent his entire life accumulating acronyms for his alphabet soup CV.
At the end of the day, the client simply needed reassurance that I did in fact have a personality, worked to live (not the other way around), and have properly developed social and communication skills that allows me to interact comfortably with their employees. They wanted a human, not a robot.
I think it’s officially time to tame down the alphabet soup and make sure my CV reflects more of my interpersonal skills….you should probably do yourself a favor and do the same (if you haven’t already). Your technical skills may get you in the door, but your ability to effectively communicate with a non-technical crowd will keep you in the building. Always keep in mind that we’re in the business of providing a much-needed service to people, not simply maintaining their expensive technology toys.
Brian the Technology Guy