It seems I've heard from a lot of people looking for jobs lately. I had a friend reach out and when I posted a note on LinkedIn I had someone looking for a job, I heard from a few dozen others that they were in the same situation. The last year has seen a lot of turnover in IT. There have been lots of big (and small) companies that have let staff go, for a variety of reasons. The why doesn't matter to you if you've lost employment. You just need a new job.
At the same time, I hear from lots of customers and friends that they are struggling to find good talent. They have openings, but none of the people interviewing have good skills.
That's an interesting mix of situations. There are jobs and companies want to hire people, and there are people needing jobs. However, there don't seem to be enough good matches, and my guess is we have some skills mismatches here. In other words, candidates aren't showing they have the skills employers need, or at least not at the depth employers need.
A lot of success I've had in the past is being good at some tasks with a database, but also showing employers I can learn about other tasks easily. Some of that is from blogs or answers on forums, and some of that is showcasing those skills in interviews. I think that many managers will accept they might need to teach you or train you on certain things, but they want confidence you can learn and grow.
Good interview soft skills help, but showcasing learning and growth helps as well. Blogging is a good way to show that, but what do you blog about? My advice to students is to explain how they solve the problems they're given in coursework. Show what you learned, from where, and how you chose to solve a problem with the resources used.
I would say that experienced workers can do the same thing. Take on some sample projects that build or design a database. Work on a sample dataset and produce queries to answer questions, explaining what the goal is and then how you solve the problem. Show how you can improve a project by refactoring code, and then proving things are better with execution plans and performance numbers.
Show you have skills to get some things done, and the skills to learn how to solve complex problems. Hiring managers need to have this confidence in you.
If you have ideas for a project, let us know in a comment. What types of projects have you worked on that you were proud of the solution? What sample datasets have you used to learn? We all can improve our skills in some way, and perhaps a few specific ideas will get some of you moving in the new year.