Do you have problems with Niche Skills ?

nicheWe live in an era of ever changing technology. The development of the educational and training system has provided us with a huge influx of talented people. Technology keeps changing and so does the talent pool. People keep jumping into new endeavors to learn new skills and at times they get into something which is NICHE. Internet is full of pages with details about what Niche IT skills are but to summarize; a skill becomes niche when either the technology becomes very old like Fortran, TCL, BASIC, PASCAL or it is the very latest like NoSql, Mongodb to name a few.

Having niche skills in IT industry is a challenge, not because learning it is very difficult, but because coping-up with its demand is a big task. Niche skill-set can get you a decent paying job but finding this job remains a daunting task. And even if you find yourself lucky in getting a nice project you remain vulnerable. You will be one of the guys who knows the stuff, so most of the things come to you and then because its difficult to find new opportunities. its tough to negotiate with your demands.

Now the question arises when a skill becomes niche should’nt it be in huge demand? Not necessarily. Even if the demand is huge its stays for a very less time. And in most scenarios the demand stays but can’t be fulfilled. Most of the times it becomes difficult to explain to the recruiters about the technology for example in my case I had a hard time telling my recruiting manager that I have worked on Tcl Scripting and she only knew javascript. What’s this Tcl Scripting … ?

Its worse when you face a non-technical recruiter, explaining your skillset becomes a hell lot off a job specially when its so niche that even technical guys gape at it. So there comes a disconnect, Companies need guys with these skills but the recruitment team can’t understand the requirements and hence can’t find proper guys, while on the other side people with such skills sit whole day uploading resumes on useless non responsive job databases. Most of the times companies end up hiring people with some other skills and then they train them spending huge amount of money.

So what can be a solution to this problem?

In my view there can be multiple things which the bigger community of hiring managers, technical teams and recruitment can do.

The technical teams should be very specific and clear with the requirements. If the skills required are niche then the skillset should be very well defined with related information sources so that the hiring and recruitment teams get to know about the requirements in detail.

The recruitment team if into technical hiring should have atleast basic technical know how and incase they are looking for a niche requirement they should do some homework before hunting.

Even after all that the candidate with the niche skills still has to do some hardwork. He should be more expressive in his resume, if the skills are niche then put a bit more detail about the projects. On job hunting sites put the skill tags efficiently and use some related tags to guide recruiters to the profile.

The points mentioned here are purely based on my experiences and I expect comments and critical feedback from you on this. This would help.