How to Successfully Land Your First IT Job After College

By December 20, 2016 Careers, Women in IT
First IT Job

Landing your first IT job

While it’s a big relief when you finally graduate, the real challenge is about to begin. You will find that landing your first IT job isn’t easy, given that hundreds and thousands of other fresh graduates are competing for similar positions. But, finding a job may be easier for you than for others if you prepare yourself for the path that lies ahead.

Based on research by Burning Glass, the future of college students majoring in STEM is “looking bright”. They have access to twice as many entry-level jobs as non-STEM graduates, and they get better pay, too.

Although the advantage is on your side, a degree alone doesn’t guarantee that you will land your dream IT job. So, how can recent college IT graduates boost their chances of scoring their first job? Read on below to find out.

Understand your strengths

There are various jobs that you can apply for, so, which one do you want to get? You must know what you are good at, whether you want to be a coder, specialist, product manager, etc. It is the initial step to be able to get the job where you can excel in. Express your specific IT interests in the interview to be able to alert the hiring manager of your ambitions so that they are aware of how you best fit their organization.

Before you even start applying for any opportunities, you must learn about the different options and career paths available if you took the job to be able to apply for positions that the best suit your interests and talents.

Showcase your work and knowledge

Make sure you are prepared to put your best foot forward by presenting them your work as well as your vast knowledge about the position you are applying for. If you are applying as an office-based tech expert, you must know the skill set and knowledge necessary to troubleshoot computers, servers, internet connection, etc. For instance, if you have a skill set that revolves around data security state it early on in the interview and on your resume, as most enterprises are now focusing their attention on it. Likewise, if you are applying as a mobile app developer, make sure you know the latest trends in mTech and present them with how you foresee the market growing or how smartphones are twice as powerful as their previous models. Industry experts suggest presenting all of this knowledge and expertise in a presentable portfolio. Portfolios can be created and presented via mobile devices, too, as O2 mentioned that premium handsets today are able to run powerful productivity apps. Show your techie side by adopting new forms of presenting your portfolio through a website, app, social media page, or another form of digital device.

“As a recruiter, reviewing an applicant’s website or portfolio is a great way for me to get a better understanding of who they are,” said Brian Long, a talent advocate. “Create a blog where you can write about things you are learning or trying, your thoughts on the newest JavaScript framework, or the process you went through for a class project.”

Sharpen your “soft” skills

Being aware of the technical or ‘hard’ skills are not enough to land your dream job. All applicants must be able to present their interpersonal or ‘soft’ skills as well, such as be able to work in a team, effective communication, leadership, and problem solving skills. There are a lot of highly valued soft skills that IT professionals should have that help them progress their career, such as knowledge sharing (teaching and mentoring). It’s best to identify the skills where you are weak and invest in enhancing them. Networking also helps in this process where previous colleagues and professors can help you improve your soft skills.

“Even if you have proficiencies in a hard- to-find technical skill like Java, those skills alone won’t land you a job in IT. It’s these soft skills that will make you more employable and well- rounded to a potential boss,” according to Abjojot Pansare, head of recruitment at Collabera.

Build relevant experience

Knowledge. Check. Skills. Check. Experience? The best way for you to improve your chances of getting hired is by gaining practical experience in your discipline through internships as they serve as your key stepping stones to full-time employment. It will help an applicant to develop and demonstrate their specific skills that employers are demanding.

“This is especially true in IT, where internships constitute 13 percent of all postings calling for IT-related skills, which is greater than all other skill areas besides engineering. Moreover, in the past 12 months IT internships were the second-most demanded, with employers seeking interns who already possess expertise in multiple IT skills such as JAVA, C++, and Python,” Burning Glass CEO Sigelman said.

Search for programs with hands-on training to learn and prepare for a job in IT as it trains you in real-world scenarios. If you aren’t able to get any internship, then a strong portfolio will help you present relevant skills and your experience to employers.

Graduating from a 4-year course isn’t enough for you to successfully land your dream job after college. Even if your degree has a high conversion rate in terms of employment, many hiring managers are still looking for other skills in order to select the best candidate for their organization. We hope the aforementioned tips have offered an insight on how you can ace your job interviews in the future. Good luck!

Aleah Kristine is a a full-time HR assistant for a UK-based manufacturing company. In her spare time, she blogs about her passion in fashion, technology, mobile devices, sci-fi and more. She hopes to inspire people developing their other skills aside from the one they’ve gained from the campus.

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