MAXX Potential

Don’t Let A Credential Keep You From a Tech Career

By The Team at MAXX

As more hiring companies lean on AI screening tools to sort through resumes, the lack of a credential can become a barrier to landing that first interview. However, it’s not just the credential that gets you through the interview process. Most hiring managers look beyond credentials and want to see examples of applied experience.

According to Inc.com and Techrepublic.com, Google and many of the top companies are changing their hiring criteria, even going so far as to create their own certification programs. Google claims the programs “equip participants with the essential skills they need to get a job,” with “no degree or prior experience required to take the courses.”

TechRepublic points out that “while a company like Google doesn’t disregard academics, its strategy revolves more around creating paths for nontraditional candidates.”

At MAXX Potential, we go beyond the resume and help apprentices achieve their tech aspirations by providing the industry experience, training, and mentoring required to ace that second interview. We pair MAXX Apprentices with MAXX Mentors and customers who need smart and eager team members, meaning MAXX Apprentices work on projects that make a difference in the world and to our customers. 

A Few Things to Consider Before Seeking an Information Technology Credential

While IT credentials can strengthen your resume and knowledge base, they take time and money. Most certifications will require months of work on top of your daily life responsibilities. The benefits of credentials are many, and at the same time, experience is just as and maybe more crucial to developing a strong resume.

As career paths become more and more choose-your-own adventure when it comes to deciding on experience and credentials, employees have more options to choose a path that best fits their unique talents, interests, and abilities.

Specializations

When you know what tech role you want to fill, this can orient your decisions around possible certifications. Some fields require more specific knowledge, and specializations will outfit you with the appropriate information. While certifications are available for many areas of IT, some areas require specific certifications, and they are more relevant for security and infrastructure-related roles like: 

  • Cybersecurity
  • Networking
  • Cloud computing
  • Data

Job Relevance

Some jobs prioritize experience over credentials and certifications. Meanwhile, other jobs require that all job candidates are up to date and certified in specific standards. For example, a technology security position may require specific certifications to even qualify while a software engineering manager may be more interested in your repository than the list of courses you’ve completed.

Certification Reimbursement

Some jobs reimburse employees for meeting their education requirements by going through a certification program. This benefits the company and you. Certification reimbursement can remove the financial barrier. If your company offers a reimbursement program, go for it. 

Career Pivots

Not all certifications are created equal, and experience in the target tech area will give you a working understanding of the role you desire to fill. While it might make sense to gain a credential for a role you hope to occupy, on-the-job experience can often take you further. Choose your credentials wisely. 

Don’t Let A Credential Keep You From a Tech Career

Certifications can become a gatekeeper for some who desire to pursue a tech career, and that doesn’t have to be the case, especially with the option of on-the-job training. One of the best combinations is the ability to learn on the job while also receiving a certification.

At MAXX Potential, we issue a different type of credential: industry-recognized experience for your resume. Your resume gains a list of completed customer projects and experiential learning. When faced with the interview question, “Give me an example of when…,” you’ll have a unique set of tech industry experiences to pull from.

Ready to take the next step in your tech career? Contact MAXX Potential today!

''Consistency and endurance pays off in the end.'' - Words from Alum, Ali Tahir

Ali Tahir

Alumni Success Story: Ali Tahir

 

Ali worked as an Apprentice for over six months, gaining valuable on-the-job tech experience before he exited MAXX Potential to work at General Electric Corporation.

What were you doing before MAXX Potential? What drew you to pursue a career in technology?

Before MAXX, I was an event manager and the owner/operator of a catering solutions company I started as an undergraduate student while studying experimental psychology with a focus on behavior research and stats analysis. 

What drew me into technology was an opportunity to revisit some passions I had since grade school, specifically building computers, understanding technology, and developing my casual programming hobbies into a full-time career. 

I completed a software engineering bootcamp in April 2021, and in October 2021, I was hired by MAXX Potential.

Can you talk about what you’re currently working on? What are some of your job responsibilities?

When MAXX placed me at General Electric Corporation (GE) in December 2021, my team was in the beginning of the SDLC, planning a stack change of 14 APIs from their Java code to NodeJS. 

Our goal was to rewrite the APIs, using best practices where possible and trying to replicate existing end user behavior. I was responsible for rewriting some of the smaller APIs by separating functionality into modular parts (controllers, services, servers, routers, etc), creating a Docker image of the projects for deployment, setting up our CI/CD pipelines, and testing. 

My recent responsibilities have included setting up mutual TLS between our applications and external sources using Envoy service proxy.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your current role?

I am fortunate to work with experienced software developers, and I find it very rewarding to work together towards a common goal. That’s how I like to bring value to my team. 

It feels good to assist my teammates with tasks, and on some occasions, teach them about technology and concepts I worked on while rewriting an API or setting up the security infrastructure of our pipelines.

How do you keep your skills up to date? What’s the best way to learn new concepts, technologies, programming languages, etc.?

GE sets bi-annual performance goals that help me keep my skills up to date. I set goals with realistic markers to keep me motivated to stay up to speed. For me, the best way to learn new technology and languages is to start building something with it. 

In some respect, you have to dive right in because it’s only when you approach it hands-on that you get a sense of how these things work, and tutorials and classes can only take you so far. They’re certainly helpful, but the best thing to do is to make something with the technology you’re interested in.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone early in their IT career or looking to get their start?

Consistency and endurance pays off in the end. Stick with it. From the early days of the pandemic till I got hired at MAXX, there were plenty of moments where I felt like throwing in the towel because the material seemed too complicated to learn, or job hunting was incredibly demoralizing. 

Nothing worth doing is ever easy, and even now at my job, there are still days where trying to figure out how things work at GE makes me feel like a “puny hu-mon.” 

If you’re looking to get your start, remember to be kind to yourself and get comfortable with being in an “unknown space” a lot of the time. Building that muscle will help you endure.

MORE BLOG POSTS

Beyond the Resume: Assessing Potential of Entry-Level Tech Talent

By The Team at MAXX

Two technologists discuss what it takes to go beyond the resume for the technical interview

A good hire is more than a checklist of technical skills, and most tech companies turn to the technical interview process to assess a candidate’s abilities. While a technical interview provides powerful information about a job recruit’s skill set, it offers another, maybe more important, data point: a look at a candidate’s character traits.

When assessing a candidate, a hiring manager seeks the ideal combination of experience and skill set. The entry-level space is often a catch-22 for everyone–hiring managers look for experience and entry-level applicants are looking for experience that just isn’t available. This is when a candidate’s underlying motivation can be the true barometer of their technical career potential. 

At MAXX Potential, our interview process is designed to spot tech talent potential with an eye to longevity in the field. MAXX Apprentices often arrive to us, exhibiting an interest in technology, but with a lack of experience. Candidates are often missed because their resumes don’t pass the screening process.  

“Resume assessment can create barriers for people seeking employment. At MAXX Potential, we want to remove those barriers.” Tricia Micheux, MAXX Potential Talent Acquisition Specialist, shares, “I am less interested in what level of education you have and more interested in how you’re achieving your tech goals on your own.”

These tech-savvy individuals have the potential to become great IT employees, but they never get the chance. 

A Harvard Business Review article asked readers to Imagine A Hiring Process Without Resumes, and the authors shared stories of businesses that implemented open hiring, on-the-job development, standardized accountability, and overall employee care. Hires were made based on willingness, and these businesses benefited by quick hiring and less overhead hiring costs. 

What if more companies applied these ideas in their own hiring practices? What if more businesses hired based on aptitude, perseverance, or passion for the industry?

3 Characteristics to Seek During a Technical Interview

Technical interviewers have a difficult challenge of determining whether or not a candidate has the necessary technical requirements for the job opening. A great technical interview takes into consideration the day-to-day responsibilities of the particular role and creates opportunities for discussion around problem solving skills, practices, and processes. They observe how candidates interact with the problems, demonstrating their character traits.

At MAXX Potential, our team looks for aptitude, perseverance, and passion. We listen to what candidates say and what they don’t say. While they explain their technical skills, we listen closer to hear the resiliency and excitement behind their work.

1. Hunger for Technical Problem Solving

A key statute of the information technology field is problem solving, and a technical interview analyzes a job candidate’s ability to evaluate, determine a problem-solving process, and implement that solution. It’s inevitable that those within a tech role will face problems that they don’t know how to solve. How does the candidate interact with the problem? Are they hungry to solve the problem? Does a problem ignite interest or drain them?

At MAXX Potential, we start with a scenario-driven hypothetical question. Once the candidate answers, our team asks more questions, pressing the candidate to flex his or her analytical skills and consider edge cases. How far is the candidate willing to go to think outside of the box?

While it’s important to listen to what the candidates share about themselves, it’s just as important to observe what their body language and attitudes say about their motivation for the technical problem. The technical field attracts many individuals because of the promise of an impressive paycheck. Yet, not every individual is cut out to spend their days in the trenches of problem solving.

2. A Learning Mindset and Perseverance

When a candidate says “I don’t know” or seems to have gotten to the end of their first take at a solution, the next question to ask is the following: what is your process to find a solution to a problem when you don’t know? 

The character traits that MAXX Potential hopes to see the candidate demonstrate are perseverance and curiosity. Is the candidate willing to struggle with the problem? Is the candidate ready to analyze the problem from different angles?

During this part of the interview, the hiring panel observes the job recruit’s soft skills in action. When faced with a difficult problem, is the candidate comfortable asking clarifying questions? While some roles are behind the scenes, many tech roles require the ability to interact with clients and teams of people to complete the project, so it’s important to see strong communication and interpersonal skills. 

This conversation allows us to see how candidates communicate and think through a challenge, meet surprise issues, and persevere to find a solution. This reveals who has the initiative to pursue a task, interact with a team, ask strategic questions, and learn the skills required to reach a solution. 

Curious people can’t help but persevere to find answers, and these traits are a great foundation for technologists. While a resume outlines hard skills, a great technical interview uncovers character traits and soft skills.

3. The Light-Up Moments

As we meet and talk with each job recruit, we’re looking for their aptitude and perseverance to highlight a true passion for technical problem solving.

To bring that characteristic to the forefront, candidates are invited to present a project they’ve worked on that demonstrates their technical skills and their joy. The candidate has an opportunity to show off their skills in an area where they’re familiar, and the interviewing panel observes the candidate in their sweet spot and asks relevant questions to unearth more potential.

At MAXX Potential, we root for each candidate’s success and want to provide that moment for the candidate to stand out and present a technical project they’re proud of as well as discuss their future projects. Micheux points out, “Sometimes it is easy to forget that those involved in the interview process are humans. Being able to connect on a person-to-person level is something that feels unique to MAXX Potential and can often get lost in the technical interview process.”

“Sometimes it is easy to forget that those involved in the interview process are humans. Being able to connect on a person-to-person level is something that feels unique to MAXX Potential and can often get lost in the technical interview process.”

Tricia Micheux, MAXX Potential Talent Acquisition Specialist

A resume offers the story of education and job experience, but it doesn’t always account for a person’s passion. When we see job recruits light up, we see individuals with the motivation to pursue a technical career.

Going Beyond the Resume with MAXX Potential

Discovering the best tech talent starts with evaluating potential, and MAXX Potential built our apprenticeship program on these talent assessment techniques. We look for the people who have been filtered out through traditional recruiting methods.

Partner with MAXX Potential and discover entry-level talent to build out your team with a strong bench on the sidelines. For our clients, we serve as a go-to partner for the entry-level tech roles, and for candidates, we provide an avenue for hungry and flexible learners to excel in an IT career.

Let us handle the technical interview so you can stay focused on your business. Get in touch with MAXX Potential today.