Today’s blog is a guest post from Liam Donoghue, who works with IT recruitment agency Venturi Group. Read on to find out what Liam’s top tips are for breaking into this competitive sector….
As an IT recruitment agency, we work with recent graduates everyday. For many students, getting that first foot on the career ladder after finishing university is a daunting prospect. Fortunately, while some nerves are unavoidable, there are things you can do to give yourself a headstart. Below, we’ve outlined some of the best things you can do before beginning the search for your first role.
Get involved in projects outside university
You’ve probably heard this one a few times before. Employers look fondly upon students who are engaged in technical projects outside university – after all, it’s a clear indication of a genuine passion for technology. In a market saturated by graduates, having that extra something on your CV will inevitably make you stand out from the crowd. For example, being able to list coding projects you have worked on, hack-a-thons you have entered, or internships you have undertaken are all major advantages when it comes to applying for jobs.
“When looking through graduate Software Developer CVs, candidates that have a side project always grab my attention. Ideally, they’re doing some web development outside of the classroom to put into practice the theory they are learning. Those that have pet projects they are really excited about usually perform better at interview and get placed sooner than those who don’t. It’s hard to fake that kind of enthusiasm and interest,” said Adam Ferguson, Principal Consultant at Venturi.
Work on your ‘soft skills’
Some may be rolling their eyes at the mention of ‘soft skills’. But in tech, many employers put a premium on them. A CV that reads like a long list of programming languages is unlikely to engage a recruiter or hiring manager. This is not to say that technical skills aren’t important. Obviously, if the development job you are applying for requires a lot of Java-based coding, then you’d better know your Java. However, much of what separates average graduates from those that are truly outstanding is not their technical expertise – it’s their ability to work well with others. Tech companies now put skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership on an equal footing with the amount of code you can write in a day.
Think of ways to demonstrate these softer skills on your CV by mentioning times you’ve solved problems through communication, or detailing summer placements where you worked as part of a team. By putting an emphasis on communication and teamwork you’re showing not only that you’ll be able to master the nuts and bolts of the role, but also that you’ll be able to work with other departments and clients, a vital part of any role in tech.
Research all potential avenues for employment
The tech sector spans across all industries and includes a wide diversity of roles – from Big Data Analysts to Security Architects. As well as deciding on which roles and industries are a good fit for your skill set, you should give some thought to what sized company you would like for. The experience of working at a company with more than 10,000 employees is very different to working for one with 50. Do you want the structure and support of a large corporate company? Or the freedom and responsibility of a tech startup?
Always be open to learning new skills
One thing all hiring managers like to see is a candidate who has a demonstrated ability to adapt to new challenges. The pace of change in tech is relentless. Therefore, you need to get comfortable with the idea of continual learning after graduation. A programming language that is a hot topic now could fade into obscurity six months later. Keeping up to date with the latest trends and developments in the industry will come in handy at interviews. Hiring managers are always impressed by graduate with an eye toward the future.