Getting your first technical graduate job can be a daunting experience, but it doesn’t have to be. If you follow these tips, you will soon be on your way to starting a rewarding career in the technology sector.
Work on having the right skills
The technical skills acquired through your university degree will help you populate your CV, but they may not be enough to make you stand out from other tech graduates. With technology roles becoming increasingly specialised, it’s a good idea to determine the most sought after skills. For example, in some sectors knowledge of SQL could give you an edge over other graduates. For other sectors it may be Java, Ruby or PHP. Consider taking part in hackathons and coding competitions to get the required skills. Hands-on training through internships, community projects or even personal projects are also excellent learning opportunities.
Don’t neglect your soft skills. According to a recent study by Burning Glass Technologies, more and more recruiters are looking for candidates with soft skills such as effective written communication, negotiation or interpersonal skills. With many positions in technology requiring teamwork or leadership skills, honing these and other soft skills will increase your chances of being hired. They may well be the feature that sets you apart from other candidates.
Optimise your CV
Customising your CV to suit each job application may sound like a time consuming process, but it can be the difference between getting lost in a pile of CVs and getting an interview. For each job application, identify the requirements of the position and emphasise your experience, interests or skills that best match those requirements.
If possible, get someone else to check over your CV before you send it out. Ask a friend you can trust to spellcheck it and make sure that it gives a professional and appropriate impression of you. Better yet, most universities have careers advisors who will be happy to go over your CV and help you make the most of your job application.
Build your network
With professional social networks like LinkedIn, it is now easier than ever to stay in touch with your classmates, former colleagues, and lecturers. Does your university have an alumni network? If so, join it now! This can be a great way to be part of relevant technology circles and be noticed when new opportunities arise. In addition, professional affiliations are ideal for more targeted networking. Most professional bodies organise events such as talks, conferences or short courses. Taking part in these events will give you the perfect venue in which to make new industry contacts. However, don’t forget that you must be genuine and authentic to build trust.
Look after your online presence
Are you proud of any personal coding projects? Showcase them online on GitHub. Did you design a cool app? Consider making a website to show it to the world. Having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with plenty of connections will enhance your chances of getting hired but there are many other ways to build a good online presence within the technology market. A personal website can show off your web design, coding and management skills, as well as display personal projects and your well crafted CV. A professional Twitter account will help you stay connected and informed about the current technology jobs market.
However, make sure personal social media profiles are not public, as this can hurt your chances. Recruiters don’t need to know what you look like after having your fourth beer.
Make use of career resources
Your university’s careers department can be an invaluable resource. Most universities offer career services for alumni. As well as helping you to build a great CV, they can also offer expert advice on how to prepare for an interview, how to do well in technical assessment centres and even point you at the best job websites and companies to get you started on your job hunt.
Excel at the interview
The interview stage is your chance to really shine. It’s where you show that you have what it takes to do the job and do it well.
Make sure to research the company before the interview. Don’t focus only on their website: finding other information about them will make you stand out as a candidate and can really impress your interviewer. Case studies, past projects and the reputation of the company within the technology industry are very good pieces of information to consider before the interview. To really excel, find ways to use your knowledge of the company to highlight why you are a good fit for the role. Draw parallels between the company values and your own values.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a job straight away. Often, companies are looking to hire graduates for their potential, not for their current skill set. If you can show that you are willing and able to learn, and are realistic about your options, you will eventually find opportunities that are right for you.