This guest post was created in collaboration with Venturi Group one of the UK’s top IT recruitment agencies.
As an IT recruitment agency, we work with recent graduates every day. For many students, getting that first foot on the career ladder after finishing university is a daunting prospect. While some nerves are unavoidable, fortunately, there are things you can do to give yourself a head start in today’s competitive job market. Below we have outlined the 3 points we feel will help your CV stand out from the crowd.
Work on your ‘soft skills’
Some may be rolling their eyes at the mention of ‘soft skills’(attitude, communication, creative thinking, work ethic, teamwork, networking, decision making, positivity, time management, motivation, flexibility, problem-solving, critical thinking, and conflict resolution.), but in tech many employers put a premium on them. A CV that reads like a long list of programming languages is unlikely to engage a recruiter. This is not to say that technical skills aren’t important. Obviously, if the development job you are applying for requires a lot of Java-based coding, then you’d better know your Java. However, much of what separates average graduates from those that are truly outstanding is not their technical expertise – it’s their ability to work well with others. Tech companies now put skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership on an equal footing with the amount of code you can write in a day.
Think of ways to demonstrate these softer skills on your CV in the covering letter by mentioning times you’ve solved problems through communication or detailing summer placements where you worked as part of a team. By putting an emphasis on communication and teamwork you’re showing not only can you master the “nuts and bolts” of the role but you’ll also be able to articulate why you’re doing what you’re doing to other departments and how that will ultimately benefit them.
Get involved in projects outside university
You’ve probably heard this one a few times before. Employers look fondly upon students who are engaged in technical projects outside the university. After all, it’s a clear indication of a genuine passion for technology. In a competitive job market, having that extra something on your CV will inevitably make you stand out from the crowd. For example, being able to list coding projects you have worked on, hack-a-thons you have entered, or internships you have undertaken are all major advantages when it comes to applying for jobs.
“When looking through graduate Software Developer CVs, candidates that have a side project always grab my attention. Ideally, they’re doing some web development outside of the classroom to put in to practice the theory they are learning. Those that have pet projects they are really excited about usually perform better at interview and get placed sooner than those who don’t. It’s hard to fake that kind of enthusiasm and interest,” said Adam Ferguson, Principal Consultant at Venturi.
Show you’re always open to learning new skills
One thing all hiring managers like to see is a candidate who has a demonstrated ability to adapt to new challenges. The pace of change in tech is relentless. Therefore, you need to get comfortable with the idea of continual learning after graduation. A programming language that is a hot topic now could fade into obscurity six months later. Keeping up to date with the latest trends and developments in the industry will come in handy at interviews. Hiring managers are always impressed by graduates with an eye toward the future.
You can highlight this on your CV by creating a weekly or monthly blog on current trends in tech or attending tech conferences outside of the university. Activities like these will give you a better grasp of the direction your chosen technologies are heading. Having points like these on your CV demonstrates you are actively thinking about what the tech landscape will look like in the future. As a bonus, you’ll be equipped with interesting topics of conversation to raise with your interviewer.