First IT job: how to convince your dream company to hire you?
by Carolina Mota
If you have already finished your computer science/software engineering degree, or are about to complete it, you want to enter the IT job market and have already identified the company where you would like to work, then this article is for you!
By the end of your academic path, it is frequent that multiple questions and doubts rise as the recruitment processes start and, in particular, those related to the company where we aspire to work. Throughout this article, I will try to answer these questions as tips to help you in this important step of your journey — getting your first job in IT.
What should I share to shine in my dream company interview?
All previous experience is significant, but let’s go step by step.
Start by sharing your motivation and the reason why you would like to work for that company. Specifically share what you would like to do, relating it to the company and the area in which you want to work (do a previous research on the company, show that you are interested, involved and that you match the requirements they are looking for).
Share your academic background putting it in perspective with the area you are applying for. Highlight two or three significant projects that you are proud of and talk about them in detail:
- How it was built,
- In which parts you were involved,
- What was your take on it,
- What technologies were used,
- What was the outcome and what would you improve
Also, call attention to personal projects or initiatives in which you are involved. Show that you are dynamic, curious and that you like to learn continuously and broadly.
How can I stand out from other candidates running for the same job opening?
Every experience counts, even experiences “disconnected” from the academic context or the area you are applying for. All the contexts you’ve been through, or intervened in, taught you something and led you to develop certain soft skills that will eventually (at this moment!) be called to put into practice and will value you.
All the projects you work on — or are a part of — that go beyond your formal education matter! Do you practice any sport? Are you part of an associative movement? Do you volunteer? Do you work summer jobs in various circumstances to keep yourself busy? Do you maintain projects of your own — or with friends — in your free time? All these are relevant experiences that provide you moments of learning and the development of soft skills that will be fundamental and valued by the company you want to work for.
Your future employer, at the moment he is getting to know you, will be concerned about acknowledging and exploring these soft skills!
In addition to the initiatives in which you can be involved, it is important to show off that you have a clear knowledge of the company’s culture during the interview, its way of being and work methodologies. Whether it is because you really enjoy working in a team, or because you consider yourself as a good team player, or even because organization and focus are your strengths, it may be a good idea to emphasize these or other characteristics, giving examples by showing academic projects or extra-curricular projects. Basically, in addition to the technical part, this is yet another way to show that you can make a difference and contribute like no one else!
What questions should I ask to get the potential employer’s attention?
Asking questions and having the concern to clarify doubts is fundamental and will draw attention in an interview. Therefore, regarding this, various questions can be raised:
- Questions about the company— asking questions and wanting to know more about the company (its history, structure, teams, dynamics and their culture) is essential to stand out in the verticals of posture and behaviour. You will show that you care and you are oriented, engaged with the process and the company.
- Technical questions — asking specifically about the area and the team you’re applying to is essential to become acquainted with the context and specific environment in which you will have to work. What area’s structure? How does the team work? What is the technological environment? Why are they strengthening the team now? — All these questions will show the recruiter how interested you are.
- Questions about the hiring process— asking questions about how the process works and how many phases it has will confirm and emphasize that you are dedicated, interested in being involved in the process. Also, it gives you visibility into the entire process as a holistic approach and what to expect.
Let’s summarize the main topics you should use to convince the company of your dreams to hire you:
- Share your technical background, but don’t forget to talk about yourself as a whole, to show who you really are deep in your values and soft skills. All experiences matter!
- Share personal projects and how they helped you develop your soft skills.
- Ask relevant questions and clarify your doubts! Asking questions is always positive!
I hope these tips are useful and help you enter the company of your dreams, or get your first IT job!