Congratulations! You’ve made it through a tough technical program and are graduating with all the tools necessary to land an awesome job in the perfect company to showcase all your amazing skills, right? Wrong!
Graduating from college is just the start of what you hope will be a long and fulfilling career in technology. What should you expect from the job market now and how do you make it work for you? Here are our top tips:
- Soft skills aren’t optional. Sure, you can code like the whiz kid your mom always said you were, but how’s your email etiquette? Can you work as part of team without losing your cool? Show up on time? Soft skills like verbal and written communication are just as critical to helping you land that dream job as is your technical acumen. Often tech candidates get a bad rap about not being personable. Don’t let that be you!
- Consider an internship. Maybe you graduated last semester—or even last year—and you still haven’t found your dream job. Consider taking an internship or even a volunteer position to gain some real-world experience. Do some freelance for your high school or college, or find a friend with a side hustle that needs some love. Any experience will help beef up your resume in a crowded and talented market and you just might learn some new skills or make some new connections that could lead you to your dream job!
- You absolutely need a resume. Employers aren’t mind-readers. Make sure your resume is up-to-date and includes all projects you’ve worked on—especially the super cool ones. Incorporate any results or statistics about those projects and any client, teammate or professor quotes saying how great and easy you were to work with. Consider creating an online portfolio or including a link to your GitHub profile so you can better showcase your talents. Absolutely tailor not just your cover letter/intro email paragraph (yea, you still need those) but also your resume to the companies you’re applying to. Simply reshuffling relevant projects can draw attention to your best stuff.
- Practice before your interview. It’s not just about tip #1 above. Yes, you must be on time, professionally dressed and prepared to answer and ask questions. You also may be asked to describe in detail what you did on specific projects listed on your resume or even do a small, sample project of your technical skills as part of an interview “test”. This is pretty common in today’s job market to confirm people have the skills they claim to have and it’s something we actually recommend employers do. It’s also a sneaky way to test your style and ability to communicate, not just how you perform technically.
- Follow up! Ghosting is a real problem and not just on Tinder. Candidates ghost employers all the time and employers have even started ghosting candidates! Follow-up right after your interview with a thank you email or handwritten note and then follow up in week if you haven’t heard any news. Not getting a response via email? Pick up the phone. We know it’s hard, but you gotta do it!
- Get organized. Treat your job search like any other project and start with the end goal in mind. Research companies and industries that you might be interested in working for that align with your personal values. Make a list and then stalk them on LinkedIn, review their websites and find people IRL that could give you some inside knowledge. Find potential recruiters (like us!) who work with those companies and industries and schedule a chat. Schedule specific times and days to do your job search; it’s super easy to spend all your time focusing on getting a job, which over time can impact your health. Leave those all-nighters at college.
- Be patient. Finding the right fit can take time. And remember, your first job is likely not to be your only job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says people have on average 12 jobs in their lives (half of those are between the ages of 18 and 24!) and change jobs approximately every four years. Treat every experience as an opportunity to learn and meet new people!
At Align Workforce Solutions, we’ve helped tons of new grads match with the perfect employer right after graduation. Just recently, we helped a Backend Engineer/Developer who went straight from his undergrad to Master’s program with no real-world experience, nab the perfect job within 25 days of graduating! Not only did he have a great starting salary, huge bonus potential AND stock options—it was also for a project he was super interested in working on now that he was finally done with school.