As your graduation approaches and you begin to apply for positions, the process of landing that first job can seem intimidating.
As a hiring manager of entry-level Application Developers, I understand your dilemma – “I can’t get hired without job experience, but I can’t get experience without the job!”
While it may be true that you will be competing with others similar job or intern experience, you can quickly break away from the group by differentiating yourself in other ways.
Focus on Your Soft Skills
What are soft skills?
Soft Skills are character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people.
While having the technical skills is a requirement for your job, soft skills can demonstrate your overall fit into the organization and culture. It can also help interviewers determine how well can you communicate or work with others.
Here are four tips to help you showcase your soft skills.
Soft Skill of Be Prepared:
Think through a list or projects or assignments that you have worked on and be able to apply your knowledge of those projects to the questions asked. As a new graduate, it is okay if you only have one or two projects that you keep referring to – using them shows me that you can apply your knowledge to the questions.
If you cannot articulate any projects or assignments that you have worked on, your technical skills will not stand out and you will not demonstrate that you can think on your feet.
I know that your experience is limited, so think outside the box! If a question does not relate to a project you’ve worked on in school, but maybe a personal or non-technical experience demonstrates the quality they are looking for, so feel free to use it!
For example, if asked to describe a scenario where you managed to complete a project on time while presented with conflicting priorities, you may not have an IT assignment that relates directly. Instead you could speak to how you managed your course load during finals when everything is due at the same time. How did you work through that process? Did you succeed?
One of the latest employees I hired demonstrated to me how easily he could adapt within a changing environment. I accidentally listed his phone interview 30 minutes earlier on my calendar than it was scheduled. Upon calling him I immediately realized my error, apologized and offered to call him back at the agreed upon time. He pleasantly laughed it off and agreed to complete the interview early. While I certainly would not have held it against him to call back at the scheduled time, to see that he could “roll with the punches,” was one example to help him differentiate himself.
Try to find an example of a time you showed flexibility or the ability to adapt in a changing environment and you will stand out from the crowd.
As a new IT graduate, you may not even know what questions to ask your prospective employer. You can gain self-confidence by doing a little research on the company you are applying for and you can show interest by asking probing questions related to the questions being asked of you.
For example, if asked to share a time that you’ve had to explain a technical problem to a non-technical person, you could follow-up your answer with a question such as:
“Based upon your question, is this a situation that occurs frequently within the role? Will I be working with clients or other stakeholders on a regular basis?”
This demonstrates that you are interested in the role, are able to interpret information presented to you and think through it without specific instruction.
There you have it! As you move towards getting hired at your first IT job, keep these tips in mind as you interview and you will quickly rise above the others. Just remember, it is just as much about who you are as a person and how you can fit within the organization as it is about your technical skills. Best of luck to you!
Do you have any other interviewing or job hunting tips that work to give job hunters an advantage?
Thanks for reading!
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