Attention Tech Grads: Apps, Video Games, Hacking May Be Time Well Spent

Survey Also Suggests CIOs Appreciate Non-IT Backgrounds

Apr 13, 2017

MENLO PARK, Calif., April 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Who says playing video games is a waste of time? CIOs polled recently by staffing firm Robert Half Technology cited a number of interests that increase an entry-level IT job seeker's appeal, including website or app development (50 percent), video game playing or development (24 percent), and participation in hackathons (17 percent).

Technology leaders also listed backgrounds outside of IT that are beneficial to professionals in the field. Math was the top response for 36 percent of CIOs, and business and marketing savvy impressed another 31 percent of executives.

CIOs were asked, "When it comes to new graduates looking for their first tech job, outside of professional experience, which of the following tech-related hobbies or activities increase their appeal to employers?"*

Website or app development


Video game playing or development


Participation in hackathons


Raspberry Pi, Arduino or microcomputer project creation


Don't know/no answer


*Multiple responses allowed.

CIOs were also asked, "Outside of IT, which one of these backgrounds would give a candidate for a technology role the greatest competitive advantage?"



Business or marketing


Liberal arts




Don't know



View an infographic of the survey results.

"While there's no substitute for meaningful work experience, highlighting relevant hobbies and activities can be an effective way for new tech graduates to demonstrate their passion for the industry and impress hiring managers," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. "And for some initiatives, like artificial intelligence, leaders are seeking employees from a variety of backgrounds. Aspiring technology professionals from a different field of study should make clear to potential employers how their skill sets will help them be successful in the roles they pursue."

Reed also suggested hiring managers consider more than just previous work experience and academic qualifications when evaluating candidates for entry-level IT jobs. "If you focus only on professional accomplishments, you may overlook applicants who are innovative, passionate about technology and motivated to expand their skills," he said. "There can be great value in training a promising candidate who could potentially become a top player on your team."

Robert Half Technology offers five tips for new grads pursuing entry-level IT positions:

  1. Tap into your network. Use professional networking sites to connect with people in your ideal industry and ask for informational interviews to learn more about their careers. You can also contact specialized recruiters who can introduce you to local organizations and employers that may be hiring for entry-level roles.
  2. Modify your search and application materials. Instead of blasting out resumes, contact specific employers that interest you and customize your resume to their needs. To stay current, follow companies you like on social media to keep up with what the business is doing. 
  3. Make your case. Draw parallels between your pastimes and how you'll add value as an employee. Managers are drawn to professionals who are naturally curious and want to learn, so play up those traits during your interview.
  4. Showcase your soft skills. IT hiring managers look for people with exceptional interpersonal abilities, like problem solving and communication. When meeting with potential employers, highlight how you've collaborated on projects and worked through challenges.
  5. Remember the basics. Don't let a small mistake – like arriving late to an interview or dressing inappropriately – jeopardize your job search. When meeting with hiring managers, come prepared with copies of your resume, a strong handshake and examples of what you can offer if hired.

About the Research
The survey was developed and conducted by Robert Half Technology and includes responses from more than 2,500 U.S. CIOs in 25 metropolitan areas.

About Robert Half Technology
Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of technology professionals, specializing in a full spectrum of technology services – from project, contract-to-hire and full-time IT staffing services to managed services and solution consulting. With more than 115 locations in North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, the company provides highly skilled talent for IT initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. For more information, please visit For career and management advice, read our award-winning blog at


SOURCE Robert Half Technology

For further information: Jenn Popovic, (650) 234-6033,

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