Finding your ideal graduate job as a software developer is hard, especially with so much competition. Here’s what you need to do to set yourself apart from the crowd.
Congratulations! You’ve just earned your degree and you’re about to graduate. It’s a culmination of three years of hard graft, so you have a lot to be proud of. However, once you’ve finished celebrating, thoughts turn to what you are going to do next.
If you’re looking to land jobs in software development, it’s hard to know where to start. There is a huge amount of competition out there. Data from Q3 2019 found that on average, there are 212 applications for each graduate role (across the job spectrum, not solely development), with only eight candidates being selected for interview. How can you negotiate this challenge and emerge with your ideal job?
Here are our top five tips for landing the graduate development job of your dreams.
1 – Define your workplace values
Before you can get the developer job you always wanted, you need to know what the job you always wanted actually is. Make sure you’re clear on what you want, as well as what you don’t.
Define the kind of company you’re looking for in an employer. You will want to consider a wide range of factors, including;
- Company size – Do you want a startup, scaleup or corporate giant?
- Culture – Find a company that shares the same values as you.
- Vibe – What is it like working for that company? Are the people there fun and outgoing, or quiet and serious? Believe it or not, some people prefer the latter!
- Sector – Is there a particular industry you have always wanted to work in?
- Tech stack and engineering practices – Are there systems or ways of working that you are more comfortable with?
- Flexible working – If being able to work from home or choose your own hours is important to you, look for a company that offers flexible working policies.
You should also have a clear idea of the direction you want your career to take, as it will have a bearing on which companies you apply to. For example, landing a role at a startup is a risk, compared to taking a job at a corporate. However, you have a better chance of accelerating your career in a smaller, fast-paced organisation.
2 – Create a portfolio
While employers will appreciate that you’re applying to join them straight out of university and will not be expecting to see an extensive portfolio of previous work, if you can demonstrate some kind of track record, it will put you ahead of your competitors.
A great way to validate your tech skills before you can get some real-world experience is to build out your Github and Codepen accounts. GitHub is the industry standard repository for code. When you create an account and display your previous projects there, it shows potential employers what you can do. You can also contribute to open source projects which will help you make valuable connections with other coders.
You could also make some money while you build your portfolio by taking on some freelance work. Use sites like Upwork or PeoplePerHour to find small gigs that you can do while you’re applying for jobs. Again, you never know who you might end up working with.
3 – Build connections
It’s unfortunate, but so many times in the job market, it comes down to who you know not what you know. The more connections you make in your chosen sector, the more likely you are to spot an opportunity to get your foot in the door ahead of your competition.
Check out your local tech scene by networking on LinkedIn and joining Slack groups. Contribute to these communities and show people that you’re someone who knows what they’re talking about. Attend industry events, meet-ups and hackathons, use them as opportunities to network and grow your profile.
If you don’t live somewhere with a local tech scene, you can still participate remotely. Make your online presence part of your personal brand.
4 – Broaden your horizons
Although you have a clear idea of what you want (after asking yourself the questions in Tip 1), nothing is set in stone. You are not tied to your choices and things can change.
Times are changing. Companies are looking further afield for talent now. You may find that there are golden opportunities to work in different cities or even countries. Don’t close your mind to anything.
Remember that tech is a fast-moving world. Keep up to date with what is going on in the industry and if it looks like you need to upskill yourself to land the job you really want, make sure you do it. The more you know, the more in-demand you will be.
5 – Work the process
Finally, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and just do it. You’ll need to make sure your LinkedIn profile shows you in your best light. You’ll also need a CV that is professional and polished. Highlight your key skills and go into detail on what you have achieved so far.
Start applying for roles and see how you get on. Go to interviews – even if you don’t get the job, it’s all experience. Take any opportunity offered for feedback. Make sure you follow up on any applications (don’t wait for them to get back to you). Rinse and repeat.
Your dream job is waiting for you. You just have to go out there and get it. Good luck!
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