Industry insiders have the edge

* IT execs say industry-specific experience will tip the scales in a job seeker's favor

When you're having trouble choosing among potential employees, what is it that gives a candidate an extra edge? Nearly half of IT executives recently polled said industry-specific experience would tip the scales in a job seeker's favor.

IT placement Robert Half Technology polled more than 1,400 CIOs about the selection process, asking, "If two candidates interviewing for an IT position had similar skills, which one of the following additional qualifications would you find most valuable?"

According to the results, 43% of IT leaders chose industry-specific experience. Soft skills were next at 32%, followed by certification in a relevant technology as chosen by 15%. An IT-related undergraduate degree appealed to 8% of respondents, while 1% chose an MBA.  The remaining 1% would either cite a different qualification or didn't know.

"While the job market is picking up, many companies remain selective when hiring IT professionals," says Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Executives seek individuals with a deep understanding of the issues, challenges and tools specific to their industries, and who can contribute immediately to the company's success."

If you're one of those IT job seekers new to a particular field, Lee advises to focus on transferable skills. Help the employer understand how your previous work experiences directly maps to the requirements of the specific position.

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