Article by Matt Najera, Vice President of Jobspring Partners.
The biggest mistake entry-level job seekers make is that they are too focused. Remember, your first job is your first job, so focus on just getting an opportunity that is going to give you skills to have options in the future. The other big mistake I see these days is that entry level IT graduates and recent college graduates rely too heavily on online tools. While Twitter, Facebook, Monster, and other online services can be very helpful, remember that they are only a piece of the job search, and you still need to get out, network, and make connections with people. People hire people, not resumes. This means the more face-time networking, the better your chances at making an impression and getting hired.
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Be specific in your job search and resume. Entry level job seekers always want to open themselves up to as many opportunities as possible, but when HR staff and Hiring managers see these resumes, and it looks like the person doesn’t know what they want, they typical pass on that candidate. If you want to be a Software Developer, say so. If you want to get into Systems Administration, then go after it! People who are specific about what they want get hired before the people who are still trying to figuring it all out.
With any job seeker, it’s important to have skills that will allow you to hit the ground running. On your resume, you need to list skills you have that are needed to do the job you’re applying for. Employers are no longer interested in hiring someone they need to train for three months to a year, so any skills you’ve gained, even if it’s from an internship or college work, are important to list.
One of the best ways to differentiate yourself is to show an actual project you have worked on, whether it’s your own project or one done for a job. It is easy to say, “I worked on a CRM application in my first job, but I can’t show you the source code.” It’s not very common for someone who can come in and leave a copy of the code with the interviewer that proves that they can write quality code. One of the biggest concerns to an employer when hiring entry level IT is your ability to pick up skills fast and mange yourself.
In the current market, if you have a good background and strong communication skills, you will have many job options to choose from. However, some of the critical mistakes that many entry level IT job seekers make is to think they are “above” a certain job or technology. I hate to tell you this, but, like any industry, you have to work your way up the food chain. Yes, working with some technologies, or in some specific industries, may be potentially career limiting, but they can give you the experience you need to step up to the next level. There are companies in every city that like to hire people directly from college to work on technologies that may not be the most in-demand skill, but those folks are learning a lot about the Big Data techniques and the enterprise environment. That kind of experience will be a big help for them to move on to their next position and give them opportunity to develop skills and critical thinking you may not get in many jobs.
So the main theme in your job search is take a job based on upon the experience and skills you will learn, and don't let money be the primary factor! You can’t put a price on the skills you will develop now until 3-5 years from now, and it's a pretty safe bet that you will not be retiring after your first job.
Article by Andy Kolkhorst, Practice Manager in Jobspring Chicago
“Send me the job description.”
This is something that I hear daily. While job descriptions can be very valuable when talking about getting an understanding of an organization and their product, they can act as a hindrance in regards to determining if you have the correct skill set for a position.
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Everyone has made a list of presents they wanted for their birthday at some point in their life. When you did, did you get everything you asked for? No. This is the exact approach a hiring manager takes when writing a job description. Many different technologies are listed, and in all likelihood, you are not using ALL of these in your current environment. Apply anyway! A job posting can be a very intimidating and the last thing you want to do is put yourself out there and get rejected, I get it. However, in the current tech market where there is an influx in open positions versus qualified candidates, you actually have the upper hand. It is necessary for companies to be flexible in order to ensure that their roles are filled quickly, which often requires them to hire a more junior candidate that can grow into the role.
This is counterintuitive to what your thought process is while scanning job descriptions online. The most important thing is to find a company that you are passionate about and they will make a role for you. You are a hot commodity right now and any company would be fortunate to have you; this is the mindset you need to have when going into any job search, especially in this hiring market. Roles are staying open for longer than ever and head counts are being lost. Companies are now looking for reasons to hire someone rather than nitpicking on why they should hire you.
If you are looking for a new job right now, you are in a position of power. Do not sell yourself short during this rare opportunity in the technology industry to truly dictate the next step in your career.