IT sector

‘Anybody can code’: Landing an IT job in India will require new skills

The $150-billion Indian IT industry’s appetite for workers skilled in areas like data science and artificial intelligence is growing.

With new-age information technology jobs on the horizon, techie resumes are due for a makeover.

Soon, it won’t be enough to flaunt an engineering degree or knowledge of Java and Python. Automation is set to take over jobs that primarily involve mundane, repetitive tasks. Globally, 12% of employers worldwide expect to downsize in light of technological advancement. The fears are more intense in India: between 20% and 30% of Indian bosses believe automation will reduce headcount.

But it’s not all bad news either. The $150-billion Indian IT industry’s appetite for workers skilled in areas like data science, artificial intelligence, and more, is growing.

Levelling up

The number of openings in analytics doubled in the country from April 2016 to April 2017. Close to 50,000 positions are currently available at big-name firms like Amazon, Citi, HCL, IBM, and Accenture, a recent study by Analytics India Magazine and online training platform Edvancer found. Around 61% of these roles require candidates with less than five years of experience.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are also picking up momentum. In fact, artificial intelligence featured among the hottest startup sectors in India this year. Along with big tech firms, over 170 startups are focused on this space. Unfortunately, though, their hunger for talent is far from satiated: only 4% of Indian artificial intelligence professionals have worked with technologies like deep learning and neural networks, which are key to advanced artificial intelligence-related solutions, recruitment startup Belong told Quartz earlier.

So, to ride the next wave of IT jobs, aspirants must move away from low-skilled jobs like installing and maintaining servers, and handling networks between servers. Every human resource manager is seeking developers who can manipulate algorithms and work with different machine-learning models. “Anybody can code, but can you optimise the code to run fast on a slow machine [on any machine for that matter]?” Rajat Vashishta, founder of Falcon Minds, a resume consulting firm, says.

The evolved candidate

A grasp of languages like Java/C/C++ is an evergreen asset, Shashikala from Head Hunters India said. But to get into big data, techies may need to master languages like Scala and Hive that are less mainstream, Shashikala said.

Recruiters are also looking for those with an eye for good design and code architecture. “Programmers who focus on good design principals are always preferred over programmers who can just code,” Vashishta says. “User experience matters a lot more than it used to, say, five years ago.”

Moreover, these days, a standard BTech degree is not needed for many of these jobs. Aspirants can crack data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence jobs with post-graduate degrees or PhDs in academic areas like pure mathematics and statistics.

So, while skills in technology areas such as business intelligence, DevOps, artificial intelligence and machine learning are sought after, what is more important is showing the company how these skills were put to use, according to Aditya Narayan Mishra, chief executive officer of CIEL HR Services, a recruitment firm. “Did you help cut the production time, did you decrease the defect count, did you bring down latency or augment the page traffic. You have to come up with numbers and valid results that you got,” Vashishta added.

Besides, freshers aren’t the only ones who must stand apart, said Pallavi Kathuria, a consultant at executive search firm Egon Zehnder. Senior managers need to have “the risk appetite to capitalise on opportunities as they arise, and a constant curiosity to expand on their already deep technological expertise”, Kathuria said.

Presentation matters

Showcasing is important. The resume must be laid out to exactly fit the criteria for the job one is applying for. “If any UI [user interface] developer would like to pursue [a job] as a full stack developer then he/she should develop and highlight back-end programming skills also in the profile,” Shashikala adds.

The design of a resume, too, has changed, says Vashishta. “We have moved to the age of shorter and shorter attention spans – so the resume has to tell more about the candidate in the shortest span of time,” he says. “Most techies write pages and pages of projects in their resumes. While it is important, in most cases, the same information gets repeated. Anything above two pages is a big no!”

This article first appeared on Quartz.

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