As an IT graduate, looking for your first full-time paid position can be disheartening. You might be wondering how you are supposed to meet the ‘job experience’ requirements when this is your first role.
Well, there is a way.
It involves some careful thought and practice on your part to demonstrate why an employer should hire you over other candidates.
Showcase the desired skills during recruitment
One of the best ways to place your head above the candidate crowd is to first understand what skills a company is looking for. Then you must consider how you can demonstrate these in your interview.
Here’s a ‘must have’ skills list to get you started:
1. Soft skills
Your university years may have given you a sound technical foundation, but in today’s workforce, you need more. Employers are looking for transferrable (or soft) skills, as these add true value to their business. Things like how well you work in a team, how effectively you communicate with clients and whether or not you can think critically and problem solve.
Here are some suggestions to help you demonstrate your soft skills to a prospective employer:
Teamwork and collaboration
Reflect on your uni days and consider a time when you played a pivotal role in a team. Something that showcases your abilities as a leader, motivator or mediator. You’ll inevitably be asked an interview question about teamwork, so make sure you have a great example ready to go.
One of the most common interview questions is ‘Can you tell me a bit about yourself?’. While it’s often used as an icebreaker, it’s also a way to see how well you communicate, as you essentially have to distil your entire education and coding past into a short answer. This article will give you some great tips on how to do this.
Problem-solving and adaptability
These skills are paramount, especially if you’re keen on a developer position. Employers are looking for graduates that can adjust their approach when they hit an obstacle. When providing an example of this skill, explain the decisions you made and what outcomes you achieved.
2. Passion – for coding, the job and the company
Another guaranteed interview topic is why you chose the tech field, as well as this particular company. You might get questions like ‘What do you enjoy the most about being a developer?’ and ‘Why do you want to work here?’ or ‘What appeals to you about this role?’
In answering, it’s really important to showcase your enthusiasm and passion. To evidence your interest in the industry, you could talk about pet coding projects (even better if you have them on GitHub), or open-source work.
In order to express your passion for the role, learn as much as you can about the company values and culture and carefully review the job description. Pick out a few key abilities you possess, as well as values that align with yours, and build your answer around them.
3. A willingness to learn and extend yourself
A Stack Overflow survey found that 75% of developers learn a new technology at least every few months or once a year. This clearly illustrates the importance of continued learning to remain relevant.
A great way to show a willingness to learn is to have a desire to go beyond an understanding of the most common languages, like Java or HTML/CSS, to something trickier but impressive like Python, Go or React. Big points if you’ve already taken steps to do this, but if you haven’t, actively communicating your wish to get involved in these areas is a good starting point.
Extra tips to help you get your foot in the door
1. Get experience where you can
Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to gain experience in the IT field. Paid experience might take some time, but unpaid internships could be a quick path to success.
You could also consider freelancing via online platforms like Upwork, or getting involved in open source work. Be sure to look into bleeding edge technology, as many professional developers don’t have as much time to learn the latest tech. It’s a good way to build up that vital on-the-job experience.
2. Analyse the IT jobs market
Use the Stack Overflow survey to determine the most popular languages and trends. Pay particular attention to the tech people dread. Then compare this data to current jobs available in the IT market. A professional recruiter can be highly beneficial with highlighting key skills, as they have industry insights you might find difficult to source yourself.
3. Take courses to build your skillset
Based on your research, you might find it’s worth investing your time in additional courses or certifications.
Front end development is a good graduate entry point, as many experienced developers aren’t as keen on the area, so there will be less competition. Front end skills like React can take a few months with focus to learn, putting you firmly ahead of developers who don’t have that experience.
Three other skillsets that impress employers are those in data analytics, project management and commonly used agile frameworks. Get comfortable with languages such as R or Python/Pandas, or consider a course in the space. The same can be said for project management courses. It might be the thing that sets you apart from the rest. At the very least, aim to express your ability to see a project through end-to-end during your recruitment interviews.
Connect with us for extra help
We hope you find these tips on how to land your first IT role useful. But if you’d like some extra help with finding your first role, please let our Finite tech recruitment specialists know.