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How To Get a Job In The Tech Industry: What Recruiters Look For

News, Industry Expertise
IT Staffing And Recruiting, Security Clearance Jobs

Looking for your next career opportunity takes a lot of energy; to avoid wasting your effort, you need to understand what recruiters look for. Some qualities of a successful candidate may transcend industries, while others depend on your chosen field. This blog post will answer, “What do tech recruiters look for?” based on the qualities that set apart applicants at Sentient Digital, Inc., a technology solutions provider for government, military, and private sector clients. Our Recruiter, Kathy Hinkle, provides her perspective as an experienced recruiter of tech employees to help guide your career search. 

What Recruiters Look For Across Industries

While there is no “one size fits all” approach to hiring, certain qualities make an applicant suitable for a wide variety of roles and industries, and rather than inherent personality traits, these characteristics can be acquired and developed. For example, in a 2017 Glassdoor Survey, the vast majority of recruiters favored “informed candidates,” those candidates who took time to understand what the company wanted and could provide, and articulated how they were a good fit. 

Additional attributes that appear to predict success in a range of industries include ability to work well with others, excellent communication skills, and intrinsic motivation to succeed. Developing these abilities will serve you well because in many work situations, you will need to find motivation to persevere through stressful situations, to support your fellow employees on collaborative projects, and to ensure nothing gets lost in the shuffle. Your cover letter and your interview may provide opportunities for you to give examples from your past work or school experiences that illustrate your capabilities in these areas. 

At Sentient Digital, the cross-industry qualities that we look for in successful candidates fall into the categories of motivation, interpersonal skills, and approach to work. 


That recruiters seek highly-motivated employees goes without saying, but as noted above, motivation has to come primarily from within. Passionate, enthusiastic, self-starters who want to show what they can do, and thereby advance their careers, fit in well in a fast-paced environment like Sentient Digital where we must constantly grow our skills and respond to different situations. Recruiters may want to tell you about pay and benefits, but what recruiters look for in applicants is strong motivation that comes from the desire to do your best work and excel in your career. Intrinsic motivation will help you enjoy your work and take satisfaction in achieving results, and recruiters can see that. 

Interpersonal Skills

When you consider the question, “What do tech recruiters look for?” you might not imagine that people skills make the list. However, the interpersonal skills necessary in many jobs are also very valuable in tech companies. An analysis of millions of job postings for software developers, for example, found that “Teamwork/Collaboration” was among the most common “soft skills” employers sought. For our work with government, military, and private sector clients, Sentient Digital needs both leaders and team players, and often needs the same person to fulfill both roles in different situations. A great leader must have the humility to be a team player and a team player must be ready to step up to lead when the moment calls for it. In spite of the stereotype that tech employees prefer to be behind a computer screen rather than meeting with clients or coworkers, these skills make a huge difference to our work every day. 

Approach To Work

Many modern working roles are no longer siloed, so modern recruiters prize the ability to wear many hats, taking on whatever responsibilities a project requires. For example, a software developer may also have to go beyond programming to serve as a project manager, consult on proposals, and act as a liaison to a client. This inherently involves a degree of flexibility, versus a rigid obsession with remaining within the literal bounds of your job description that will not allow you to reach your full potential, in this and many careers. Finally, a strong work ethic is critical to success. The determination to consistently put your skills into practice to serve company and client objectives will help you build a successful career over time.

A List of Qualities Tech Recruiters Look For

What Do Tech Recruiters Look For In Their Best Candidates

Recruiting for technical roles naturally involves emphasizing a specific skill set that may differ from that of other industries. Technical roles require scientific precision, attention to detail, creative approaches to new challenges, and many other skills. 

The desirable technical skills and background in Sentient Digital employees include inquisitive minds, analytical thinkers, problem solvers. Inquisitive minds enjoy an intellectual challenge and will find that every day at a tech company like Sentient Digital. Analytical thinkers refine their ideas, test their hypotheses, and continuously improve their results. Problem solvers are especially important when working closely with technology, because new problems will continue to develop as new technology develops, and true problem solvers will continuously create innovative solutions.  

What Recruiters Look For May Depend On Their Company’s Client Base

Additional education, experience, or skills that recruiters seek may depend on the needs of their organization’s clients. For example, if the tech company you want to work for serves only the private sector, the recruiter may look for experience in that arena. By contrast if the company serves military or government clients, military service or public service work may give you an advantage in the application process. For its part, Sentient Digital serves clients in all three of these areas, and takes particular pride in offering career opportunities for Veterans, among other talented professionals. Keep in mind that the ability to obtain security clearances at the relevant level for your position may also be necessary. 

Working in the tech industry requires continual learning to stay current. You may give yourself an edge in the application process by already having the certifications and proficiencies that your prospective employer needs. Currently, for a software engineer, Java and C++ are essential, but experience with MATLAB, Python, GIT, and AgileMATLAB, Python, GIT, and Agile can make your application even more solid. For a Senior Systems Administrator role, you need professional level, vendor-specific certifications from Microsoft, Azure, and AWS, but a more desirable candidate would have MCP or MCSE with Hyper-V experience. These qualifications will change over time, so you need to have a willingness to continually build your skills.

Sentient Digital’s Recruiter Weighs In

Kathy Hinkle, Recruiter at Sentient Digital, provides additional advice for prospective applicants about what qualities make a good candidate. First, she notes that, “We look for the soft skills of candidates who are strong communicators, are flexible, and open to taking on new challenges.” These skills hold a similar importance at Sentient Digital as at many companies across industries. 

She also stressed that Sentient Digital prefers to promote from within, fostering the growth of each employee’s career path. Sentient Digital offers an employee development program, exemplifying this priority. Applicants can also learn more about the kind of experience that leads to a successful career at a tech company by reviewing the employee bios page. 

Sentient Digital looks for employees who share our values. Sentient Digital’s company culture is rooted in our values statement, called our “CREED,” which stands for Caring for each other, Resilient in our work, Eagerness to learn, Energetic in our approach, and Dedication. If a candidate can demonstrate that they have the same guiding principles, that helps the company to see how they would fit with the organization. This advice would apply to other companies and industries as well; research information such as a company’s values, mission, and any other information about culture when applying and make sure that your cover letter and interview reflect your understanding of these items. 

Kathy gives another useful piece of advice by pointing out that you may want to think outside the box for different ways to get discovered by a company. The usual job boards may not always be the best option for your application. For example, for a company like Sentient Digital, which does significant work for the military and government, a specialized website such as ClearanceJobs has yielded a lot of excellent candidates. 

You have probably heard before that networking matters, and that connections make a big difference in landing people jobs. Kathy reaffirms this advice, stating that, “My favorite way of identifying strong candidates is through networking and employee referrals. Good people know good people. It says a lot about the company when our employees think highly of our company and want to bring a former co-worker on board.” Receiving this advice from a tech recruiter should underscore the importance of people skills in obtaining a position in a tech company and thriving once you get there. 

Do You Have The Right Combination of Qualities? Apply For A Position at Sentient Digital, Inc. 

Sentient Digital, Inc. proudly recruits the best cybersecurity experts, software engineers, AI researchers, and more, as well as non-technical support roles. Our mission is to support the warfighter as well as to create optimal technology solutions for government and business clients. If you have the skills, drive, and passion for what we do, apply to join our team.